Washington teen wins piano competition

The last thing Charlie Albright expected to do was earn first place in the International Piano Competition held this week in Lawrence.

Scott McBride, of the International Institute, left, presents Charlie Albright, 16, of Centralia, Wash., the first-place trophy.

“I’m shocked, just shocked,” was all the 16-year-old Centralia, Wash., boy said Tuesday night after the final round of competition at Kansas University’s Lied Center.

The competition, which began Sunday, was one of the many activities at the month-long International Institute for Young Musicians Summer Music Academies at KU. About 100 pre-college age youths are participating and 16 of them were involved in the piano competition.

Albright said winning first in the competition made his constant practicing worthwhile.

“I’ve played all my life and I’ll keep on playing,” he said.

The second-place winner was Veronica Shi, 15, of Chandler, Ariz. The audience voted for her as their overall favorite of the competition. Erin Hales, 15, of Fountain Hills, Ariz., took third-place honors.

Honorable mentions went to Yi-Ju Lai, Taiwan; Page Moon, Anchorage, Alaska; and Yvonne Chen, Herndon, Va.

The judges for the competition were: Zhaoyi Dan, from the Shenzhen Art School in China; Cynthia Siebert, executive and artistic director of the Kansas City Friends of Chamber Music; Paul Pollei, founder-director of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation; and Jack Winerock, School of Fine Arts Department of Music and Dance.

Yi-ju Lai, Yuanlin, Taiwan, plays in the final competition of the 2005 International Piano Competition, which was part of the International Institute for Young Musicians. Finals were Tuesday at Kansas University's Lied Center.