Tony Yike Yang, a 15-year-old student who hails from Toronto, Canada, was named champion of the 2014 Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition after an exceptional performance in concert with the Cleveland Orchestra in the Concerto Finals on Friday, July 25, at Severance Hall in Cleveland.
Yang closed the evening with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat major, Op. 23. Jurors deliberated for less than a half-hour before reaching their verdict.
Earning second prize was 15-year-old Zitong Wang of China, who performed Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26; 18-year-old Sae Yoon Chon of South Korea earned third for his performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, also known as the “Emperor” Concerto.
Yang’s first-place honor comes with a grand prize of $10,000, with second and third place earning $6,000 and $3,000, respectively. All three finalists have also earned full-tuition scholarships to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music—a prize valued at more than $175,000.
Yang is a student at the Young Artists Performance Academy of the Glenn Gould School. He was recently awarded the gold medal at the Bösendorfer and Yamaha USASU International Junior Piano Competition, among numerous other honors.
For all three performers, the journey began a week earlier with the first Semifinal Round of competition on the Oberlin campus, against 25 other pianists from around the world. They excelled through two Semifinal Rounds, a Concerto Round, and Wednesday’s Recital Finals in Oberlin to earn the opportunity to perform for top honors on the Severance Hall stage.
Presented by the Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cooper International Competition alternates each year between piano and violin. Featuring one of the largest prize packages of any youth competition of its kind, the Cooper Competition is eligible to young musicians ages 13 to 18. It is made possible through the generosity of Thomas Cooper, a 1978 graduate of Oberlin College, and his wife Evon Cooper, an accomplished pianist.
The Cooper Competition will return to Oberlin and Severance Hall again in 2015, as top young violinists from around the world put their skills to the test, yielding what will surely be another exemplary week of music in northeast Ohio.