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Kohl Mansion’s Young Chamber Musicians Go for the Gold

May 21, 2019

Susan Bates, founder and director of the Young Chamber Musicians in residence at Burlingame’s Kohl Mansion, got some big news last week: One of the program’s six teen ensembles this year, the Fervida Trio, won Gold Medal in the Junior Division of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Karina Tseng (piano), Sean Mori (violin), and Angeline Kiang (cello) won the prize at the Fischoff’s 46th-annual competition, held in South Bend, Indiana, at Notre Dame University, after competing in three rounds that included chamber ensembles from across the United States.

The Gold Medal includes a $2,300 prize (sponsored by Bill and Shirley Garber) plus an opportunity to perform on From the Top, a weekly radio showcase distributed by NPR to some 250 stations nationwide.

Third place Bronze Medal in the Junior Division went to another Bay Area ensemble, the Meraki Quartet from Berkeley’s Crowden School, coached by Doris Fukawa and Eugene Sor.

In the Junior Division (string/piano), 24 ensembles (out of over 70 applications) traveled to South Bend. The Fervida Trio presented a 30-minute program that included movements from Pierre Jalbert’s 1998 Trio No. 1 and trios by Beethoven, Dvořák, and Mendelssohn.

The Fervida Trio (named for the Latin “passionate”) was formed in 2017 as part of the Young Chamber Musicians program. They are also the 2018 First Prize winners of the Galante Prize Competition, and the Gold Medal and Beethoven Prize winners of the 2019 PAC Chamber Music Competition, in Pasadena. The trio is coached by Susan Bates and Jeffrey LaDeur, with additional coaching by Ian Swensen and Lisa Lee.

Fervida Trio pianist Karina Tseng, 17, began her piano studies with Sujeeva Hapugalle and currently studies with Olya Katsman.

Violinist Sean Mori, 16, began studies with Li Lin and Wei He, and is currently a student of Ian Swensen at the S.F. Conservatory of Music Pre-College.

Cellist Angeline Kiang, 14, began as a student of Sieun Lee, and currently studies with Amos Yang.

The YCM final concert is at 1 p.m., May 25, in the Oak Room of the San Mateo Public Library, 55 W. Third Ave, San Mateo; admission is free. The Fervida Trio will perform with five other ensembles from the program.

The Fischoff is considered the premier competition for chamber music in the U.S., and includes both junior and senior categories in strings/piano and winds/brass. Founded in 1973 by Joseph E. Fischoff and members of the South Bend Chamber Music Society, the competition was created to “encourage emerging instrumental chamber musicians and to provide a national forum for their talents.” The list of Fischoff winners is a veritable inventory of eminent chamber-music ensembles.

Jurors this year included violinist Rebecca Fisher (Chiara Quartet), pianist Liza Stepanova (Lysander Piano Trio), and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler (formerly of Kronos Quartet) in the quarterfinal round. In the semifinal and final rounds pianist Marian Hahn, violinist Daniel Phillips, cellist Michael Reynolds, and violist Sabina Thatcher joined them.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

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