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Pianist Mudi Han Wins Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra Piano Competition

by Marci Janas '91


Photo: Mudi Han




Mudi Han ’06, a piano performance major studying with Professor of Pianoforte Peter Takács, won the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra’s (A2SO) Youth Piano Concerto Competition, held last October at the University of Michigan School of Music’s McIntosh Recital Hall.

Among the judges for the competition was Arie Lipsky, conductor of the A2SO.

As part of his award Han will perform the piece that won him the prize--Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459--with the orchestra, conducted by Maestro Lipsky. The concert, which is billed a Mozart Birthday Bash, takes place Saturday, January 18, at 8:00 p.m. at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater. Ticket information is available by calling the A2SO at 734-994-4801 or by visiting the A2SO web site.

Last year Han suffered one of the most devastating accidents that could befall a pianist: he slipped on some ice and fractured his arm. An injury that could have essentially halted a budding career proved an immense and motivating challenge for Han, and he credits his comeback--the A2SO Competition was his first activity after the accident--to Takács.

"Without his support, I can hardly imagine how I would have survived the two rounds of taped auditions and the live audition afterwards. He encouraged me. That’s the most important thing. He also taught me some relaxation and arm strength techniques that helped me overcome the physical difficulties." Han says that he will use these techniques for the rest of his life.

"It’s such a pleasure to work with a student who is both talented and highly motivated," says Takács. "Mudi has had to work very hard to regain the time and the mobility he lost due to his accident, so winning this competition is even more of an achievement. He also has become a very skilled Mozart player, which is not a very easy thing for a young performer to do. I really look forward to his concert in Ann Arbor."

Han, 19, is a double-degree student at Oberlin, majoring in economics in the College.

Born in Wuhan, China, he began his piano studies at age 5 with the chair of the piano department of Wuhan Conservatory of Music. Later, while a middle-school student, he frequently traveled to Shanghai and Beijing to study with top conservatory professors there. He also studied with Zhaoyi Dan in Shenzhen, the teacher of Yundi Li, winner of the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition.

In 1998 Solomon Mikowsky, a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music (MSM), sponsored Han for study in the United States, where he attended MSM’s Preparatory Division. He also graduated with highest academic honors from St. John’s Preparatory School in Astoria, New York.

While in New York City, Han received awards from the Parents Association and the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, both presented by the Manhattan School of Music. He also won the Balakian Memorial Award, presented by the Associated Music Teachers League of New York, Inc.

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