The internationally-acclaimed Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Competition will take place February 28 through March 3 in Washington DC. We will be welcoming nine talented young pianists from around the world who will be competing to advance to the final round, and to ultimately join the ranks of former winners such as Van Cliburn and Murray Perahia as the winner of this prestigious competition.  

Meet each of the nine semifinalists below!

Athena Deng, 21 Canada 

I believe Chopin's music is fundamental to the growth of a pianist because upon learning and revisiting his pieces, one can discover new things every time. For me, the first time is always intuitive because I grew up hearing Chopin and feel his music very deeply, but as I gradually immerse myself in the respective pieces, I begin to listen for what Chopin might've envisioned, the wordless messages woven into his melodies.

Athena Deng

Athena Deng currently studies with Professors Dang Thai Son and Stanislav Ioudenitch at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She made her orchestral debut at age 11, playing Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major with the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra. Athena has also collaborated with orchestras such as the Volgograd Philharmonic Orchestra, the Uzbekistan National Symphony Orchestra, the Richmond Orchestra, and the Virginia Waring Festival Orchestra. Moreover, she has been awarded many important national and international prizes, including the concerto first prize and solo second prize at the 2015 Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, the first prize in the 2017 National Canadian Music Competition, third prize in the 2021 William Knabe International Piano Competition, etc. Athena has been selected and awarded scholarships to participate at the Miami Frost Chopin Academy, the Lake Como Summer Festival, the Beijing International Music Festival and the Southeastern Piano Festival. She was a member of the Young Artist Program in Cleveland Institute of Music from 2017 to 2020 and has received extensive training in chamber music as well.

Semifinal Round
SZYMANOWSKI from Métopes, Op. 29 No. 1 The Isle of the Sirens and No. 3 Nausicaa
CHOPIN Mazurka in B major, Op. 63 No. 1 
CHOPIN Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35 
CHOPIN Nocturne Op. 37 No. 2 in G major
CHOPIN Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op. 61 

Final Round
CHOPIN Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21

Derek Hartman, 26 United States

“No composer makes me feel as closely connected to the piano as Chopin. His music taps into the full range of human emotions for the performer and the audience alike.”

Derek Hartman

Derek Hartman is a pianist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the Yale School of Music, at which he also received his Masters of Music in 2021 under the instruction of Boris Slutsky. He completed his undergraduate studies in piano performance and music theory at Northwestern University in 2019, whilst studying with James Giles. Derek has appeared as a soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and he was awarded top prizes in the Music Teachers’ National Association Young Artist Piano Competition, the PianoArts North American Competition, and the Thaviu-Isaak Endowed Piano Competition. His performance engagements have taken him to such diverse locations as the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Kravis Center of the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Ruïnekerk in Bergen, The Netherlands. He is a recipient of numerous scholarships, including the 2023 Evelyn Bonar Storrs Scholarship, and he was awarded the 2023 Yale School of Music Alumni Prize and the 2020 Elizabeth Parisot Prize in recognition of his contributions to the Yale community. A dedicated music educator, Derek is currently a faculty member at the New School for Music Study at the Frances Clark Center, and he has served as a teaching assistant in the Analysis and Musicianship curriculum at Yale. Since 2018, Derek has partnered with PianoArts of Wisconsin to design and present dozens of music educational programs across Milwaukee. Derek is also an avid chamber musician, a harpsichordist and continuo player, and he pursues endeavors in music theory and pedagogy.

Semifinal Round
CHOPIN Mazurkas Op. 59 No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3
CHOPIN Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35
SZYMANOWSKI Mazurkas, Op. 50  No. 4, No. 6, No. 3, and No. 14.
CHOPIN Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52

Final Round
CHOPIN  Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11

Antoni Kleczek, 17 United States

Chopin’s music is very important to me because of its depth of feeling. It is amazing to see how Chopin uses music in the same way a poet uses words to describe and interpret our interior feelings and to move our hearts.

Antoni Kleczek

Antoni Kleczek has been described by Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń as a pianist who plays each piece with "deep understanding...natural expression, communicativeness of emotions and all this while playing with apparent ease." Antoni has performed in such concert venues as Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, Gusman Hall in the Frost School of Music, and the Chopin Center in Szafarnia, Poland. In 2022, Antoni was awarded the Grand Prix in the 29th edition of the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition for Children and Youth in Szafarnia. Antoni was also the 1st prize winner at the 6th Rosalyn Tureck International Bach Competition in 2019 where he also received the Rosalyn Tureck prize for contemporary works as well as the Olga Kern Aspiration Award. Antoni participated in the 2022 Frost Chopin Academy where he had the privilege of working with Garrick Ohlsson, Kevin Kenner, and Ewa Pobłocka. Antoni also has worked with such artists as Horacio Gutiérrez, Jeffrey Swann, Kirill Gerstein, Krzysztof Jabłoński, Piotr Paleczny, among others. Antoni is a recipient of the 2023-2024 Chopin Foundation Scholarship and is currently studying privately with Dr. Martin Labazevitch in Washington D.C.

Semifinal Round
SZYMANOWSKI “Sérénade de Don Juan” from Masques Op. 34 
CHOPIN Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” Op. 2 
CHOPIN Mazurkas Op. 50 No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 
CHOPIN Nocturne Op. 55 No. 2 in E-flat major
CHOPIN  Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52    

Final Round
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21

Yuya Nishimoto, 21 Japan

[Chopin's music is important to me] because I really love Chopin’s music and I want to develop the power of expression. I hope to see you soon in Washington!

Yuya Nishimoto

Yuya Nishimoto was born in 2002, Japan. He graduated from the Music High School Attached to the Faculty of Music, Tokyo University of the Arts. He is studying at Tokyo University of the Arts with professor Susumu Aoyagi. He won first prize in the 12th International Chopin Piano Competition in Asia, the Salzburg-Mozart International Competition in Tokyo 2022 and the Asia International Music Competition 2022, second prize in competitions in Lugano and at his alma mater 2022, and also fourth prize in the 5th Takamatsu International Piano Competition 2023. He took part in the 2nd International Chopin Competition on Period Instrument 2023 in Warsaw and broadcasted his performance and interview on Polish Radio. He was awarded the Yamaha Music Foundation Scholarship in 2019-2021. He has worked with such ensembles as the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Seto Philharmonic Orchestra and Geidai Philharmonic Orchestra and Takamatsu Symphony Orchestra. He has performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3. He has given many recitals in Tokyo, Takamatsu, Hokkaido and Hiroshima. He has participated in masterclasses given by such great pianists as Dang Thai Son, Dina Yoffe, Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, Wojciech Świtała.

Semifinal Program
SZYMANOWSKI from Masques Op .34 No. 1 Shéhérazade
CHOPIN Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58
I.Allegro maestoso
II.Scherzo: Molto vivace
IV.Finale: Presto non tanto; Agitato
CHOPIN Variations in B-flat major on “Là ci darem la mano” Op. 2

Final Round
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11

Krzysztof Wierciński, 20 Poland

“Chopin's music is my daily life, my home, my childhood memories, and a huge love. I grew up with Chopin’s music, so it is of great importance to me in my artistic development.”

Krzysztof Wierciński

Krzysztof Wiercinski was born on February 22, 2003 in Warsaw. He studies at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw in the class of Prof. Joanna Ławrynowicz-Just and with assistant Mateusz Krzyżowski.  His work has resulted in many awards at national and international piano competitions: at the 13th International Chopin Competition in Narva, Estonia (2nd prize and a diploma for artistry and inspiration), at the 51st Frederic Chopin National Piano Competition in Warsaw (3rd Prize), and at the 2nd International Karol Szymanowski Competition in Katowice (2nd Prize). He has given concerts in various cities in Poland, Europe and Asia, including the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, the Tallinn Philharmonic in Estonia, the Polish Embassy in Vienna. He has performed many times at the Royal Baths Park or Zelazowa Wola.  At the beginning of March 2022, he played 21 Chopin recitals in 7 days at the Polish pavilion at EXPO 2020 in Dubai, being also the youngest of the Polish pianists.  He benefited from masterclasses with such eminent artists and pedagogues as Prof. Dang Thai Son, Prof. Arie Verdi, Prof. Nikolai Demidenko.  He was a multiple recipient of scholarships from the National Children's Fund and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.

Semifinal Round
SZYMANOWSKI from Masques Op. 34, No. 1 Sheherazade
CHOPIN Scherzo in B-flat minor, Op. 31. 
CHOPIN Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17 No. 4 
CHOPIN Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise, Op. 22. 
SZYMANOWSKI Variations in B-flat minor, Op. 3

Final Round
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-minor Op. 11

Victoria Wong, 26 Canada/United States

“Chopin's music has always held a special place in my heart; his musical language resonates with me the most, feeling like the most natural way for me to express myself.”

Yuya Nishimoto

Named as one of “Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 Classical Musicians” by CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation), American-Canadian pianist Victoria Wong first made her orchestral debut at age five, and has since performed on tour with orchestras including the New Brunswick Symphony, Hong Kong Symphonia, Canadian Sinfonietta, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, and Millersville Symphony Orchestra. She holds a Bachelors from New England Conservatory, and a Masters from The Juilliard School.

Victoria is First Prize winner of Lancaster International Competition, EPTA International Competition, San Francisco International Competition, and the Canadian Music Competition. She is also a top prizewinner at the Canadian Chopin Competition, Orford Music Award, and the Russian Music International Competition. In 2021, she participated in the main stages of the 18th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. She is often invited as guest artist to perform at festivals, including the 5th Shenzhen Piano Music Festival in China, Note in Citta Festival in Italy, and Westben Arts Festival and Mississauga Polish Festival in Canada. Victoria’s performances have been broadcasted by Canadian Broadcast Corporation, Radio Television Hong Kong, Guangdong TV in China, Polskie Radio (Polish Radio), and Sino TV in USA. She currently studies with Horacio Gutiérrez at Manhattan School of Music.

Semifinal Round
SZYMANOWSKI Prelude Op. 1 No. 1 and No. 8
CHOPIN Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35
CHOPIN Ballade No. 4 in F minor Op. 52 
CHOPIN Scherzo No. 4 E major Op. 54

Final Round 
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11

Oliver Moore, 22 United States

Oliver Moore

Oliver Moore is currently completing his Masters of Music degree under the tutelage of pianist Garrick Ohlsson at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has been featured with orchestras including the North State Symphony and Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, and in 2022 substituted at late notice for the Bear Valley Music Festival performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue under the baton of Alexander Mickelthwate. He has played in master classes and lessons for artists such as Boris Slutsky, James Giles, Shai Wosner, Yoheved Kaplinsky, Stanislav Ioudenitch, Arie Vardi, and Fabio Bidini.  In July 2023, Oliver presented a recital of works and transcriptions by Liszt, Busoni, Saint-Saëns, and Brahms inspired by composers Bach and Handel for the American Bach Soloists’ San Francisco Bach Festival. Oliver has attended the Piano Texas International Festival, and has served on faculty at the Butte MTAC Summer Chamber Music Festival. Oliver completed his undergraduate degree under Garrick Ohlsson at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has previously studied with John McCarthy.

Semifinal Round 
CHOPIN Impromptu No. 1 in Ab Major, Op. 29 
CHOPIN Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp minor, Op. 39 
CHOPIN Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in Eb Major 
CHOPIN Mazurka Op. 24 No. 4 in Bb Minor 
SZYMANOWSKI Mazurkas Op. 50 No. 13  and No. 16 
CHOPIN Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58 
CHOPIN Waltz in Ab major, Op. 42

Final Round
CHOPIN Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21

Mikołaj Seroka, 20 Poland

Mikołaj Seroka

Mikołaj Seroka was born in Warsaw and began his training in piano performance at age 5. He is presently a student of professor Krzysztof Jabloński - laureate of The XI Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1985 - at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen. Mikołaj Seroka is laureate of many national and international piano competitions, including the Orbetello International Piano Competition in Italy (May, 2021) and Romantic Music Festival in Toronto (Grand Prize, 2021).  In April 2021 his trio was awarded the Grand Prix Prize at The Centre of Art Education Competition in the ensembles category Since his earliest youth, Mikołaj Seroka has successfully concertized at many prestigious venues, including the Philharmonic Halls in Warsaw, Łódź, Opole and Rzeszów, Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio S-1 of Polish Radio, Royal Łazieńki, Royal Castle in Warsaw and Żelazowa - The house of the birth of Fryderyk Chopin, Polish Academy of Science in Vienna, Vigyazo Sandor Music Centre in Budapest, Maison de la musique in Switzerland.  He took part in masterclasses with Andrzej Jasiński, Michaił Woskriesienski, Natalia Trull, Hubert Rutkowski, Piotr Paleczny, Ewa Pobłocka, Aleksander Kobrin and Wojciech Świtała.

Semifinal Round 
SZYMANOWSKI Mazurkas op. 5s No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No.4 
CHOPIN Mazurkas Op. 33 No. 1 and No. 4
CHOPIN Waltz in A-flat major Op. 42
CHOPIN Polonaise in A-flat major Op. 53
CHOPIN Sonata No.3 in B minor Op. 58

Final Round
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21

Angie Zhang, 27 United States

Angie Zhang

American Pianist and Fortepianist Angie Zhang has concertized globally as a soloist and chamber musician professionally since age ten, when she made her orchestra debut under GRAMMY-nominated conductor Niel DePonte. Also accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College division at age ten, she has since won the Juilliard concerto competition three times, performed over 30 times with orchestra including with Fabio Luisi and Jeffrey Kahane as well as herself conducting Mozart K271 from the keyboard at Lincoln Center, and has appeared at major festivals including Bravo! Vail and La Jolla Music Society. She most recently was awarded Third Prize and was the best American at the 2023 International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments in Warsaw. A fourth-generation musician, she is also a dedicated teacher with over 10 years of collegiate teaching experience, and award-winning entrepreneur who works interdisciplinarily with top industry professionals from various fields to tackle bottlenecks, create more spaces where classical music can heal and inspire, and design innovative ways for artists to work with one another. She received her BM and MM with academic and chamber honors as a Kovner Fellow at The Juilliard School under Yoheved Kaplinsky, Joseph Kalichstein, and Robert Levin, and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan under Logan Skelton.

Semifinal Round
SZYMANOWSKI Preludes Op. 1, No. 1 and No. 7
CHOPIN Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23
CHOPIN Waltz in A-flat major, Op. 42
CHOPIN Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58

Final Round
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11

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