Student Wins National Competition and Steinway Piano

OGDEN, Utah – Last week at the Music Teachers National Association competition in Albuquerque, N.M., Weber State University sophomore pianist Fan-Ya Lin dazzled the judges and audience with her performance.

When the final notes died away in the auditorium, it was Lin’s turn to be dazzled.

 Fan-Ya Lin
She not only edged two doctoral piano students to win the Steinway Young Artist Piano Competition, she also was awarded a brand new Steinway upright piano worth $22,000, courtesy of Steinway & Sons.

Lin was one of seven finalists to compete in the national piano competition that has been described as one of the most competitive piano events in the United States.

“This is like the NCAA Championship of piano in the U.S.,” said Lin’s teacher, WSU music professor Yu-Jane Yang.

Yang said the competition is usually won by piano students pursuing graduate studies at prestigious music schools from across the country.

“I told her not to worry about competing with others, but just to play her best and have fun with her performance,” Yang said.

Lin began the 45-minute long competition by performing Bach’s Toccata in C Minor. That was followed by an emotionally powerful performance of Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 57.

In adjudicating the piece, one judge said Lin made the piece sound like she was unfolding a story beautifully.

Her performance also included Chopin’s etude in double thirds Op. 25, No. 6 in G sharp Minor, one of the most difficult etudes in piano literature according to Yang. Lin concluded the performance with Argentina Dances 1st Movement by Ginastera.

After the performance, Lin’s first question for Yang was, “So, did you smile during my performance?” Yang responded, “Yes, many times!”

When they learned that Lin had won, both women’s smiles were mixed with tears of joy.

Lin, 20, is a native of Taipei, Taiwan. She began studying piano at age 4. Lin was the third-place winner of the 2009 Beethoven Club International Piano Competition, and the first place winner of the 2009 Snowy Range Piano Competition.

The MTNA Steinway Young Artist Performance Piano competition took place March 22, during the 2010 MTNA National Conference.

 Jana Gardner
Six WSU students earned the chance to compete at the national event by winning at state competitions and the MTNA Southwest regional, held in Honolulu in January. Michael Palumbo, WSU music professor and orchestra program director, noted that each WSU representative was one of only seven national finalists in their respective categories.

WSU sophomore Jana Gardner, who studies flute with Cindy Henderson, took second place in the national Woodwinds competition.

In addition to Lin and Gardner, Moriah Wilhelm competed in Senior Strings and the Tria Fata Piano Trio (Nicholas Maughan, piano; Kathryn Palkki, violin; and Samuel Runolfson, cello) competed in Chamber Ensemble.

“Fan-Ya’s performance was absolutely amazing,” Palumbo said. “It was a great week for our students and for Weber State.”

The three-tiered MTNA competitions begin at the state level. First-place winners of each state’s competition advance to a division competition. Division winners compete in the national finals. MTNA is a nonprofit organization of independent and collegiate music teachers committed to furthering the art of music through teaching, performance, composition and scholarly research.

Founded in 1876, Music Teachers National Association is the oldest music teachers association in the United States.

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For more information about WSU's Department of Performing Arts, visit

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Fan-Ya Lin, national piano winner
801-645-3275 •

Yu-Jane Yang, music professor
801-626-7489 •

Michael Palumbo, Department of Performing Arts music professor
801-626-6991 •

Jana Gardner,


John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
801-626-7212 •