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Curtis Alumni Win Three 2017 Avery Fisher Career Grants

Stephen Waarts, Haochen Zhang, and the Dover Quartet win the prestigious award, designed for young musicians with the potential for major careers


Dover QuartetPHILADELPHIA—March 17, 2017—The Curtis Institute of Music congratulates its alumni winners of the 2017 Avery Fisher Career Grants. Three of the four recipients are Curtis graduates: violinist Stephen Waarts (’16), pianist Haochen Zhang (’12), and the Dover Quartet (quartet in residence during the 2013–14 season; all members are also alumni of the school). These awards highlight young musicians on the road to having major performance careers, and each winner receives $25,000. 

Haochen Zhang was a student of Gary Graffman at Curtis, and in 2009 won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Since graduating in 2012, the 26-year-old pianist has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, and others. 

Violinist Stephen Waarts graduated from Curtis in 2016 and studied violin with Aaron Rosand. He won the audience prize at the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Competition and first prize in the 2014 Menuhin Competition. At 21 years old, Waarts has already played over 30 violin concertos, performing with the Berlin Konzerthausorchester, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and Brussels Philharmonic, among others. He is currently at the Kronberg Academy in Germany, studying under Mihaela Martin.

The Dover Quartet’s members are Joel Link and Bryan Lee, violins; Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola; and Camden Shaw, cello. All four studied at Curtis, and the quartet later became the first inaugural quartet in residence of the Nina von Maltzahn String Quartet Program, graduating from their residency in 2014. They have gone on to win major international competitions and have been dubbed “the young American string quartet of the moment” by The New Yorker. The Dover Quartet currently serves as the faculty quartet in residence at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.

The New York Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Artist Program was established in 1974 to give outstanding U.S. instrumentalists significant recognition on which to continue to build their careers. Up to five career grants, awarded by nomination only, are given each year to young soloists and chamber ensembles. To date 145 artists have received the Avery Fisher Career Grant, including Curtis alumni Yuja Wang, Jonathan Biss, Hilary Hahn, Anthony McGill, Jennifer Koh, and numerous others.

“One of the world’s finest music academies” (BBC Culture), the Curtis Institute of Music pairs tradition and innovation, educating exceptionally gifted young musicians as artist-citizens who engage a local and global community through music-making of the highest caliber. Each year 175 students come to Curtis, drawn by a tuition-free, performance-inspired learning culture. In this intimate environment, they are nurtured by a celebrated faculty and inspired by the school’s distinctive “learn by doing” approach, offering more than 200 concerts each year in Philadelphia as well as performances around the world through Curtis on Tour.

Curtis reaches global audiences through Curtis Performs (Curtis.edu/CurtisPerforms), the school’s dedicated HD performance video website. Online music courses and Summerfest programs offer lifelong learners further ways to listen, explore, and learn. And students hone 21st-century skills through social entrepreneurship programs that bring arts access and education to the community.

The extraordinary young musicians of Curtis graduate to join 4,000 alumni who have long made music history, performing around the world. As musical leaders, they make a profound impact on music onstage and in their communities. 


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