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Idaho State University

ISU Violin Student Wins Idaho Falls Symphony Young Artists Competition

ISU Violin Student Wins Idaho Falls Symphony Young Artists Competition


Every two years, student musicians compete in the Idaho Falls Symphony’s Young Artists Competition for a chance to perform a featured solo with the symphony in concert.

After performances from 11 finalists on Sept. 29, symphony music director Thomas Heuser announced the senior division winner: Rumeng Liao, a violin performance student at Idaho State University.

“I was kind of surprised when Dr. Heuser announced me as the winner of the senior division, because all the finalists are so talented and we all played different instruments,” Liao said. “I felt so happy and appreciative.”

The competition, split into junior and senior divisions, fielded thirty applications from aspiring musicians before narrowing the pool to the 11 performing finalists. A panel of judges, including Heuser and ISU piano instructor Mark Neiwirth, selected one winner from each division.

During her winning performance, Liao played the first movement of Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47. ISU piano instructor Natalia Lauk provided accompaniment.

Violin professor Hyeri Choi, who has taught Liao throughout the student’s three years at ISU, helped her prepare to perform the challenging piece during the competition.

“I feel very happy and rewarded from my student's success at every moment, and I am so proud of Rumeng that she did her best in the competition,” Choi said. “The competition was a great opportunity to encourage her professional career and move forward as a promising violinist.”

Liao, who hails from China, is a member of the Idaho State-Civic Symphony (ISCS) and the winner of the ISCS 2016 Young Artist Competition. She has studied violin since the age of three, performing with the Nanya Middle School Symphony and playing at the John F. Kennedy Art Center and the Montecito International Music Festival.

Now at ISU, Liao is finishing her last year of undergraduate studies, applying for graduate programs and continuing to receive musical and professional guidance from the Department of Music’s accomplished faculty, including Choi, Lauk and piano professor Kori Bond.

“There is no doubt that I receive lots of kindness and support from the ISU music department,” she said.

In addition to a performance with the symphony, winning the 2018 competition netted Liao a cash prize of $1,000. She will perform her solo with orchestral accompaniment provided by the Idaho Falls Symphony at its final concert on April 27.


Written by: Madison Shumway, College of Arts & Letters intern