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16 year old UWA music prodigy best in the world

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Ready for a what am I doing with my life moment? Here you go; 16-year-old Shuan Hern Lee, a student from The University of Western Australia, is the first Australian to win the prestigious 2019 Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition in Dallas, Texas. He competed against more than 200 teenage applicants from 32 countries to claim the top prize.

Lee began his music studies at UWA at the age of 14 and won the competition with his outstanding performance of Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No 3 in D minor with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

He said he was inspired by Rachmaninoff’s famous quote: “Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart, it is love.”

Lee said he was excited to receive the top prize and for the possibilities that lay ahead for a career in music.

“Music is a universal language and what I love most about playing piano is the fact you can express your emotions,” he said.

“Learning music teaches us to appreciate arts and nature in the world we live in. It also helps improve our character and virtues in life. You have to be patient, persistent and disciplined during piano practice sessions.”

He started piano, vocal, music theory and composition lessons at the age of two with his father Yoon Sen Lee. He soon progressed and made the semi-finals of ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ when he was seven.

He made history at the age of 14, when he became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Fellowship of Music Australia (the highest diploma in piano performance of the Australian Music Examinations Board) before being invited to enrol in a Music Specialist degree at UWA.

In his short career Lee has already garnered 20 prizes in international piano competitions, of which 14 were first place prizes.

As winner of the Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition he will receive $15,000 and a $2000 scholarship from the Fort Worth Piano Teachers Forum for further musical advancement. He will also be provided with residency and mentorship opportunities with Cliburn.


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