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Going Down the Liszt

Churchill sophomore wins piano competition

James Yang is described as a man of few words. However, he has little trouble expressing himself through music.

The 14-year-old from Potomac recently won the High School Students Piano Competition in Virginia. He beat out six others for the title in the first year of his eligibility.

“I didn’t really expect to win. There were other really good people,” Yang said. Yang was eligible to compete in Virginia because his teacher lives there.

“He is very dedicated,” said Marjorie Lee, his teacher.

Yang started playing Piano when he was 3. He has won many awards in Maryland and Virginia, as well as in national and international contests such as the Maryland State Piano Competition, the International Young Artist Piano Competition, and the Specialty Piano Competition, among others.

The piece Yang played to win this one was the Mephisto Waltz by Franz Liszt, Yang’s favorite composer. “I really enjoy playing that piece. It’s challenging,” Yang said.

The judges cited Yang for his sensitivity, warmth and mastery.

Lee agreed. “He has looked for the interpretive aspects of playing — not just the technical, bland way of playing,” she said.

Although the Churchill sophomore has a little time before he has to decide on his post-high school studies, he is already considering what he’ll do next.

“I’m thinking about going to a conservatory, perhaps Julliard,” Yang said.