Winners announced at the 2016 Chicago Amateur Piano Competition

02 September 2016
Final-1-44898.jpg Finalists
An array of prizes handed out to fantastic amateur pianists at this unique Midwest competition
Winners announced at the 2016 Chicago Amateur Piano Competition Images

The Chicago Amateur Piano Competition are pleased to announced its 2016 winners


The Chicago Amateur Piano Competition had almost 60 competitors vie for the coveted prizes of first, second, and third place as well as many judge’s discretionary awards.


As the only competition in the Midwest, it offers two competitions occurring simultaneously; a 2-round competition for pianists who do not have the repertoire to play for 1 hour and a 3-round competition for those that do.


The 2-round is becoming one of the most popular amateur competitions in the US as it allows pianists new to the competitions to give it a try and see how they do on stage, and so on. Many 2-round competitors come back and enter the 3-round competition.


Their experience is that the players in both competitions are quite comparable in technical and musical ability and simply lack the competition experience or the repertoire to enter the more challenging 3-round competition.


Winners were announced at the end of the Competition, on Saturday 27 August. 



1st place – Michelle Steffers

Michelle Steffers is a resident of Pittsford, New York. She has been studying piano since age 5 and attended the precollege division of the Julliard School in New York City. Dr. Steffers is currently a student of Irina Lupines at the Eastman Community Music School. She has participated in numerous recitals and chamber music venues.


2nd place – Noah DeGarmo

Noah C. DeGarmo from Dallas, Texas, works as an Emergency Medicine Physician, but his primary passion has always been piano.  He has played in master classes with Leon Fleischer and Tong-Il Han and most recently was a finalist in the Chicago Amateur Piano Competition in 2012. 


3rd place – David Swenson

David Swenson from Butler, Pennsylvania, was born in 1951 in St. Paul, MN. David’s mother began teaching him the piano at age 7. From age 9 to 20 his teacher was Earle C. Voorhies, former head of piano at California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles.  He resumed playing and practicing the piano 2 years ago and studies piano now with Tom Hill in Pittsburgh, PA



1st place – Yinuo Tang

Dr. Yinuo Tang is from Hong Kong.  He was born into a musical family in Beijing, China, where he began studying piano in 1990. He has performed at the Forbidden City Hall at Beijing and Lincoln Center at New York City. He is the recipient of the Gold Medal in the amateur category of the 2015 Sixth Seattle International Piano Competition.

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2nd place – Noriko Masuhiro

Noriko Masuhiro is  from Japan.  She started learning to play the piano when she was 5 years old and stopped at 19 years old.  She then restarted to play the piano at 40 years old.  She loves Japanese composers, especially Kosaku Yamada.


3rd place – Jaime Frias

Jaime Frias, from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, has enjoyed playing music since his childhood in Concepción, Chile. He has focused on piano and guitar as well as singing and composing.  He studied piano at the University of Florida, receiving a Bachelor of Music degree and Performer’s Certificate in 1983


Discretionary Awards

Most original programming: Noriko Masuhiro

Best contemporary repertoire: Tim Adrianson

Best romantic repertoire: Mari Ito

Best classical repertoire: Esfir Ross

Best baroque repertoire: Noah DeGarmo


Information on the images:

Main image:
3-round winners

Left to Right - Adam NeimanKonstantin Soukhovetski, judges, Noah DeGarmo (2nd place), Michelle Steffers (1st), David Swenson (3rd), Melanie Spanswick, judge and Thomas Zoells, PianoForte Foundation


Second image:

The 3-round winners up close


Third image

Winner of the 2-round competition, Yinuou Tang, with Thomas Zoells and Darcy Zoells


Pianist magazine was delighted to be media partner for the Competition.