Shuman Public Relations

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For Immediate Release



From left: Kasey Shao (photo by Taryn Frazier) and Harmony Zhu. 

(KALAMAZOO, MI) July 20, 2023 — Pierre van der Westhuizen, Executive and Artistic Director of The Gilmore, today announced that two pianists—Kasey Shao and Harmony Zhu—have been named recipients of the 2024 Gilmore Young Artist Award. Ms. Shao and Ms. Zhu will each receive a $15,000 stipend to further their musical careers and educational development, and $10,000 to commission a new piano composition for which the artist will have one year of exclusive performance rights. They will give solo recitals and orchestral performances during the 2024 Gilmore Piano Festival in Kalamazoo, April 24 through May 11, 2024. Gilmore Young Artist Awards, determined by a nominating committee and anonymous advisory panel, are granted every two years to artists who are unaware they are being considered. 

Mr. van der Westhuizen honors Ms. Shao and Ms. Zhu in a virtual award presentation featuring them in conversation with 1996 Gilmore Young Artist Orli Shaham, now streaming at and via The Gilmore’s YouTube channel. 

Commenting on the awardees, van der Westhuizen said, “These two young pianists represent the ideal of what it means to seriously pursue a life in music, which looks different for every artist. It boggles my mind to see how both Kasey and Harmony have devoted themselves successfully to other studies and interests while maintaining such a high musical standard. Their well-rounded lives inform who they are as people and as performers. We look forward to supporting their growth as musicians, and being inspired by what they will contribute in the future. I’m thrilled to welcome them to the family of Gilmore Young Artists.”

2024 Gilmore Young Artist Kasey Shao

Born in 2003 in Louisville, KY, 2024 Gilmore Young Artist Kasey Shao started playing piano at age six, and made her concerto debut at age 12 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézét Séguin as the first place winner of the 2015 Albert M. Greenfield Concerto Competition. 

A Young Steinway Artist and 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholar, Ms. Shao studies with Dr. Ran Dank, and with Magaret Kampmeier at Princeton University (class of 2025) concentrating in music with a focus on composition while also on a pre-medical track. She is the founder and president of the Princeton University chapter of Doctors Without Borders, an Academic Learning Consultant, and the Music Director of the Princeton Pianists Ensemble. She hopes to become a hand surgeon, helping other musicians continue to do what they love. 

Ms. Shao’s numerous competition accomplishments include the Gold Medal in the Classical Music Division of the 2020 National YoungArts Week, and first place finishes at the 2020 Overture Awards, 2020 Dubois International Piano Competition, 2019 Louisville Orchestra Young Artists Competition, 2019 Jack and Lucile Wonnell Young Arts Concerto Competition, and the 2018 Steinway and Sons Piano Competition. She was a finalist at the 2022 New York International Piano Competition, 2021 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, 2020 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, and 2020 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Ms. Shao has performed with the Blue Ash Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and Louisville Orchestra, and has been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Cincinnati Business Inquirer, Oberlin Tribune, and Cleveland Classical. Positive reviews include the BG Independent News, “...Compelling... she had her vision, and it was apparent that was most important,” and “...a budding talent from whom more will be heard,” by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

2024 Gilmore Young Artist Harmony Zhu

Born in 2005, 2024 Gilmore Young Artist Harmony Zhu began piano study at The Juilliard School at age eight, with teachers including Emanuel Ax and Veda Kaplinsky.  She was recognized as a Young Steinway Artist at age 10, and made her debut at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium at age 14. She won the 2021 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, becoming the youngest artist on the YCA roster, and was also the youngest to be named one of the “30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30” by CBC Music. She is a student at the Brearley School in New York (class of 2024).

Ms. Zhu was invited to open the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 118th season at their Opening Night Gala Concert at the age of 10 playing Beethoven Concerto No. 1 under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. She has appeared as soloist with leading orchestras worldwide, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Orquesta Filarmónica de Medellín, Albany Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, Illinois Philharmonic, Aspen Philharmonic, Hawaii Symphony, Peoria Symphony, Amarillo Symphony, among many others, with conductors including Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and David Alan Miller. 

Frequently invited to perform at music festivals including the Ravinia Festival and Aspen Music Festival, Ms. Zhu has been featured on major U.S. television networks including NBC's The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Stepping in with less than 24-hours’ notice to perform Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 with the Illinois Philharmonic in 2022, substituting for the late maestro Alexander Toradze, she was noted by the Chicago Classical Review as having “both the stellar technique and musical insight to have a major professional career.” Other plaudits include “a deeply musical soul and nimble technician [with] probing sensitivity” (Chicago Tribune), and “an impressive soloist, a sparkling and happy presence... unflappable” (Times Union). She is a world-champion chess player, and in her spare time enjoys visiting art museums, photography, reading, birdwatching, doodling, dancing, ping pong, badminton, and swimming.  

Founded along with the Gilmore Artist Award in 1989, the Gilmore Young Artist Awards are bestowed in alternate years to spotlight superior pianists living in the U.S. age 22 and younger. The process is modeled on the career-making Gilmore Artist Award, last given in 2018 to Igor Levit. The Gilmore will announce its 2024 Gilmore Artist on September 17 during a special livestreamed event in Kalamazoo.

Nominated by musicians, educators, and music professionals, candidates for the Gilmore Young Artist Award are unaware they are being evaluated by an anonymous artistic committee for their musical promise. These secret jurors attend performances and consult with one another over an extended period of time before making their recommendations. The 2022 Gilmore Young Artists were Janice Carissa and Clayton Stephenson. Among the 40 pianists who have been named Gilmore Young Artists are Misha Galant, Kirill Gerstein, Daniel Hsu, Maxim Lando, George Li, Wei Luo, Micah McLaurin, Yuja Wang, Orion Weiss, and Elliot Wuu. 


The Gilmore was created in 1989 to honor the legacy of Irving S. Gilmore. Known for its biennial Gilmore International Piano Festival, a three-week celebration of piano music, the organization also has a robust commissioning program to retain composers to create new works for the piano.  Since 1991, 15 biennial Festivals have been enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors to Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, and 41 new works have been created for the piano. Eight Gilmore Artists have been named, based on a non-competitive process and presented every four years. Gilmore Young Artist Awards, also determined anonymously, are granted every two years, and 40 have been recognized to date. The 16th Gilmore Piano Festival is planned for Spring 2024, at which the Gilmore Young Artist/s will perform. In 2022, a major gift launched the creation of the Larry J. Bell Jazz Artist and Young Jazz Artist Awards, which will be announced for the 2026 Festival. For more information, visit 

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