At the UAE National Symphony Orchestra's first Young Artists Concerto Competition on the stage at Brighton College, Abu Dhabi, on Friday, seven talented young pianists played for the chance to perform with the orchestra during the Mostly Mozart Night Gala, on October 12, at the National Theatre, Abu Dhabi, and a top prize of Dh1,000.
From this multinational group, Hsuan Ke Liu, a 12-year-old from China, was chosen as the winner for his performance of the third movement of Haydn's Concerto in D major.
"The piece I chose is cheerful. For me, playing is more of a hobby and this is great for me to get used to performing on stage, too," Hsuan says.
He describes how he felt when he was named as the winner: "I was so surprised. I was told I won because of my technique and engagement with the audience.
"I'd like to thank everyone for their support including my teachers and my parents. Also, I believe the other contestants did a great job,"
Each contestant played, alongside their teacher, a piece of music they had chosen prior to the competition day. The winner was announced during the orchestra's An Arabian Night performance at Zayed University, later on Friday.
The competition director Ioannis Potamousis says that music, like the event itself, brings people together. "Our aim is to unify young musicians and teachers where we learn from and support each other, and who will in turn become the next generation to carry on these fine music traditions to the UAE community," he says.
The runner-up was Jinweng Dai, 17 also from China, who received Dh600. Third place went to Xiaolin Zhang, 7 years old and again from China. He received Dh400. Despite a few nerves, the youngest contestant says it felt good being on stage - and adds, with a little shy smile, that one day he wants to be known as the "piano prince".