2020 New Music School Concerto Competition

April 25, 2020, 11:00 am

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Zarin Mehta, 12, piano with Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor. Credit: New Music School.

On Saturday’s program, hear the top three performances in New Music School‘s recent Concerto Competition. A total of 36 NMS students aged 8 to 15 entered the competition. Of those entrants, 16 had the chance to perform concerto movements with the Chicago Arts Orchestra and conductor Vladimir Kulenovic. The top three places were awarded at the finalists’ concert on January 26, 2020 at the Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts in Chicago.

First Place: Zarin Mehta

Zarin Mehta, 12 years old of Chicago, is a pianist studying with Mary Sauer and Jeffrey Panko at New Music School, and attends Francis W. Parker School. Zarin won the 2020 New Music School Concerto Competition, was awarded 2nd place at the 2019 Steinway Chicago Competition, Honorable Mention with Distinction in the 2019 DePaul Piano Competition, and Honorable Mention at the Walgreens National Concerto Competition in 2016. In 2019, Zarin performed at Schoenberg Hall, Steinway Hall and Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Currently he is preparing for his solo debut recital in Chicago. Outside of his piano studies, Zarin plays hockey for the Chicago Jets, with his team coming in first place in their divisional championship. Zarin also enjoys playing chess and participating in team robotics and math olympiads.

As the winner of the New Music School Concerto Competition, Zarin was invited to perform a solo recital on Introductions in November 2020.

Second Place: Mark Zhu

Mark Zhu, 15 years old of Chicago, is a sophomore at Walter Payton College Prep. He studies piano with Yana Reznik at the New Music School and won second place in the school’s 2020 Concerto Competition. Recently, he performed in a masterclass for pianist Paul Lewis. In 2018, Mark performed in Iceland’s Harpa Hall, and performed at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He is the principal pianist of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, and was a violinist for the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra. Mark takes classes from Stanford Online High School, and tutors other students. Additionally, Mark enjoys community outreach, and has played in a charity concert for the Lurie’s Children Hospital. He runs varsity for his high school’s cross country, and is a distance runner for the track team. During the quarantine he’s taken to running stairs and benching his dog.

Third Place: Joseph Gallwas

Joseph Gallwas, 12 years old of Elmhurst, attends Sandburg Middle School. For the past two years, Joseph has been studying piano with Jeffrey Panko at New Music School, and has taken private lessons from Mary Sauer, former principal pianist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Most recently in 2020, Joseph placed third in the New Music School Concerto Competition. At age 9, Joseph made his debut at Carnegie Hall with his twin brother Kenneth as the first place winners of piano duo at American Protege International Competition. Joseph is a frequent gold medal winner of the NWSMTA Sonata festival and was a finalist in the 2018 Chopin Youth Piano Competition in Milwaukee. He has performed at Barrington Library, the Polish Fest outdoor stage in Milwaukee, and Bethel Church in Elmhurst. Joseph is also a gifted ice hockey player and loves reading.


Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, by Frédéric Chopin
I. Allegro maestoso
Joseph Gallwas, 12, piano

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, by Edvard Grieg
I. Allegro molto moderato
Mark Zhu, 15, piano

Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, by Felix Mendelssohn
I. Molto allegro con fuoco
Zarin Mehta, 12, piano

Chicago Arts Orchestra
Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor