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Dedication rewarded: Competition Offers Opportunity for Hard-Working Young Pianists

Written By: Melanie D. Hayes, Indianapolis Star

Hannah Carroll practices the piano at least two hours a day.

That dedication paid off when she won a gold medal in the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati in July.
Hannah, 10, Westfield, is one of several kids from Carmel and the surrounding area who placed well at the competition and earned a chance to play in a recital at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Sisters Irina Gorin and Ada Shebanova each run their own private piano schools in Carmel and had nine students claim top honors in their levels at the competition. The competition included200 students from Grades K-12, divided into categories based on experience, Gorin said.

As a reward, five of the students traveled to New York to play at Carnegie Hall on Sept. 30.

Those students were Hannah, a home-schooled student; Sayuka Minami, 10, an Orchard Park student who won second place; Yoko Iwase, 11, a Prairie Trace student who won second; Jeffrey Cheng, 9, a student at Sycamore School in Indianapolis who won second; and Michiru Kikuchi, 11, a College Wood student who earned honorable mention.

Other students who placed well but chose not to make the trip to New York were Chelsea Dai, 6, a Prairie Trace student who won second place; and Yue Jiang, 15, a Carmel High School student who won second in the concerto division.

Brittany Todd, 11, a student at Clay Junior High School, and Alex Huang, 8, both earned an honorable mention. Alex’s school was not available.

Yue has placed well the last three years at the world competition and played at Carnegie Hall the first two years. He has been playing piano for eight years.

“It was nice,” he said of performing on the famous stage. “It was an honor. It was exciting, and I wasn’t all that nervous because I knew the piece pretty well.”

Hannah, who has been taking piano lessons for two years, was both scared and excited to play at Carnegie Hall. The solo she performed was Sonatina in A Minor by Albert Biehl.

“I said a Bible verse to myself when I was waiting, and my mom and dad talked to me and comforted me,” she said about how she prepared for the recital. “That helped. Carnegie Hall was a very beautiful, beautiful place. It was a nice experience to play there.”

Irina Gorin, 42, who teaches 50 students at Gorin’s Piano Studio, has had students win at the World Piano Competition for three years straight and then perform in New York.

“Those kids work really, really hard,” said the Ukraine native, who has been teaching piano for 10 years in Carmel.

“It’s a huge honor to play at Carnegie Hall. It’s a very festive atmosphere with kids from eight countries.”

Photo Credit: WholtoneOwn work, Public Domain,

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