15 February 2012

The Con's most outstanding group of young music students aged between 7 and 18, theOpen Academy's Rising Stars, will reconvene for 2012 on Saturday 25 February.

The Rising Stars already have several reasons for celebration and congratulations. Lucia Li, 10-year-old Rising Star student of The Con's Chair of Piano, Dr Paul Rickard-Ford, has won First Prize in the prestigious European Piano Teachers' Association International Piano Competition in Belgium. Lucia, the only Australian in the competition, played in the first round on Wednesday 1 February and was one of 6 pianists to be selected for the final on Sunday 5 February. The others came from the United Kingdom, Russia, China, Romania and Finland.

Her teacher, Dr Rickard-Ford, commented: "This is a great achievement for Lucia and another feather in the cap of the Rising Stars."

Another international accolade has been won by two Rising Stars violinists, Anna Da Silva Chen (15) and Grace Clifford (13), who are the only two Australian musicians chosen to play in the first round of the Yehudi Menuhin Competition in Beijing in April 2012. Of the other 18 competitors, five each are from the USA and China, three each from Korea and Japan and one each from Germany and Canada.

Anna already has a formidable list of prizes and awards to her name: last year she was a finalist in the string section of the ABC Young Performer of the Year, she won the Kendall National Violin Competition and was the 2MBS Young Performer of the Year. In 2010, she won the 35th National Youth Concerto Competition in Brisbane, the Junior section of the Ku-ring-gai Concerto Competition for NSW Secondary Schools, the Open Age section at the Sydney Eisteddfod and First Prize in the Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Awards for Performance Excellence.

Anna and Grace are great friends and both study at the Conservatorium with Robin Wilson. Grace also has a significant list of achievements on her biography, winning the Ku-ring-gai Competition, the Open Age section of the Sydney Eisteddfod and the Fred Blanks Award last year and the Wenkart Junior Violin Award in 2010.

The Menuhin Competition, founded in 1983, has a well-deserved reputation for attracting and identifying many of the world's greatest young violinists and the competition in April will be fierce, but the two Australian girls are excited about competing in China.

Joy Lee, Artistic Coordinator of the Rising Stars program, said: "We're so proud to see talent and hard work rewarded internationally. All three performers have a special and individual talent which reaches out to their audiences."

The Rising Stars will again be presenting their popular series of free concerts at 11.00am every Saturday. The dates for the first semester are 25 February to 31 March and 5 May to 23 June (except 8 June). All are welcome to join the audience, especially children.

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

Email: 0c255606582530540e3e293a32371723152e3f0e4e1756500d763419