NEC Prep Pianist George Li Plays at White House State Dinner for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, June 7
Joins James Taylor, Members of National Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Christoph Eschenbach to Entertain Guests
George Li, the NEC Preparatory School piano wunderkind, performed last night for President and Mrs. Obama, German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and her husband Dr. Joachim Sauer at a state dinner in the White House Rose Garden. George, 15, and a student of Wha-Kyung Byun in NEC’s Preparatory School, played the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 on an after-dinner concert that also included a performance by members of the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and James Taylor and his band.
George will be traveling with the NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra June 14—24 on a tour of eastern Europe during which he will be piano soloist in concerts at the Musikverein in Vienna, Dvorak Hall of the Rudolfinum in Prague, and the Litomysl Smetana Festival in the Czech Republic. He will play the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 under the baton of Benjamin Zander.
During the state dinner which was intended to further strength ties between the United States and Germany, the President presented Chancellor Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civil award of the U.S. government. The dinner, designed by elite Boston party planner Rafanelli Events (which planned Chelsea Clinton’s wedding), featured a “Spring Harvest” menu of American specialties, including vegetables and herbs grown in Michelle Obama’s White House garden. Guests at the event included Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Senator Mitch McConnell, Representative and minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and United States Chief Justice John G. Roberts. Also, television news anchor Diane Sawyer, James Taylor and his wife Caroline, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and VP Marissa Meyer, superstar architect Daniel Liebskind, the man behind Berlin’s Jewish Museum and NYC’s One World Trade Center; and from Massachusetts, Carol Fulp Vice President of Community Relations, Sponsorship and Event Marketing at John Hancock Financial Services, and her husband Bernie Fulp.
George Li, Piano
Fifteen year-old pianist George Li won First Prize in the 2010 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. He was also awarded five YCA Prizes: the Sander Buchman Award, the Ruth Laredo Award, the John Browning Prize, and the Paul A. Fish Memorial Award for career development, and the Slomovic Prize for a concerto engagement. He was the recipient of the Saint Vincent College Bronder Prize for Piano, appearances with the Boise Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle and the Vancouver Recital Society, and the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Prize and Usedom Music Festival Prize (both in Germany). Next season, Mr. Li will open the Young Concert Artists Series with his New York debut in the Peter Marino Prize Concert at Merkin Hall, make his Washington debut at the Kennedy Center, sponsored by the Alexander Kasza-Kasser Prize, and appear in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Already in demand as an amazing young performer, George’s recent engagements include Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 with the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra (NJ), Chopin’s Concerto No. 1 with the Waltham Symphony Orchestra (MA), and Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4 with Symphony Pro Musica (MA) and also with the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of the New England Conservatory in Albany, Boston and on tour in Europe. He has given recitals this season at the First Presbyterian Church in Utica (NY), the Parish Center for the Arts in Westford (MA) and in the “Prodigies and Masters of Tomorrow” Discovery Series in Miami.
George Li gave his first public performance at Boston’s Steinway Hall at the age of nine. He has appeared as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra as First Prize winner of the inaugural Thomas and Evon Cooper International Piano Competition, the Xiamen Philharmonic in China, the Símon Bolívar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela, the Boston, Brooklyn, and Spartanburg (SC) Philharmonic Orchestras, the Miami, Princeton, Albany, and Lexington symphonies, the Nordic Chamber Orchestra in Sweden, and with “I Solisti di Perugia” in Italy.
Mr. Li performed at the opening ceremony of Boston’s new Institute of Contemporary Art and the inauguration of President Tony Woodcock at the New England Conservatory. He has appeared in recital at Boston’s Steinway Hall and was presented in recitals by the Hilton Head International Piano Competition and the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. As a chamber musician, Mr. Li is a member of the New England Conservatory’s Vivace Trio, which has played on “From the Top” on NPR and WNET. The Trio also performed for members of US Congress at the Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
Mr. Li’s early awards include First Prize in the Minnesota Music Teachers Association Piano Competition at the ages of six and seven. Mr. Li attends the Walnut Hill School in Natick, MA and studies at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School with Wha Kyung Byun.
If you’d like to hear George play, check out his Live from Fraser performance which he recorded last Friday in WGBH’s Fraser Recording Studio. It will be broadcast Friday, June 9 at 7 p.m. and repeated Sunday June 11 at 11 a.m. on Classical 99.5.
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Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world. Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.
The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions. On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors. Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.
NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall. These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes. Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.
NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.
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