2021 – 2022 Young Artist Competition Winners

Carlee Elsner

Overall Winner and Voice Division Winner


Carlee Elsner, a senior at Olathe Northwest High School, is a soprano who has studied voice for 6 years and piano for 10 years. Her voice teachers are Martha Sharp and Cameron Becker. Most recently, Carlee was a NATS finalist in 2021, the West Central NATS Regional Winner of Treble Division in 2021 and 2022, a Classical Singer Semi-finalist in 2021, and the William Jewell Vocal Competition Winner. She has also been a member of the Kansas Regional and All-State Choir all four years of high school. Since 2011, Carlee has been a member of the premier auditioned community choir program of the KC metro, Allegro Choirs of Kansas City. She plans on majoring in vocal performance and will know very soon which prestigious conservatory she will attend. Carlee is also a member of the National Honor Society, Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society, and has won multiple awards in Western and English equestrian events. Carlee will be performing Gaetano Donizetti’s “O tu che desti il fulmine” from Pia de’ Tolomei on our April 9th concert.

Matthew Liu

Overall Winner and Keyboard Division Winner


Matthew Liu, age 14, has been studying piano for 8 years and is currently a
student of Professor Jack Winerock at the University of Kansas. Recently, he won the best Chopin performance in MTNA junior piano, first prize at International Young Artist Piano Competition in D.C., first prize at Chopin International Competition in Hartford CT, first prize in Paderewski International Piano Competition, first prize in Conero International Piano Competition, and was a semi-finalist at the 2021 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. In 2019, he performed with Midwestern Chamber as a concerto competition winner, and KC Star commended his performance as “dazzling, …, the music played expressively, … a joy to hear”, and “was phenomenal”. In addition to music, Matthew loves to play tennis and chess, and enjoys spending time with families and friends at church. Matthew will be performing the first movement from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on our April 9th concert.

Lisa Ji

Overall Winner and String Division Winner


Lisa Ji, a junior at Blue Valley West High School, has studied violin for 9 years and piano for 12 years. Ben Sayevich is her violin teacher. She is the concertmaster in her school’s Symphonic Orchestra and has played keyboard in the Pit Orchestra for 2 years. Lisa was the winner of the KMTA competition several times for both violin and piano. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis. Lisa will be performing the first movement of Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor on our April 9th concert.

Neo Kim

Winds Division Winner


Neo Kim, a junior at Manhattan High School, has studied saxophone since the age of 9. Zach Shemon is his saxophone teacher. Neo plays in his school’s marching band and concert band. Neo has been chosen to participate in his district and all-state bands along with the concert band hosted by NAfME. He also participated in various school activities such as the Asian Student Union and Model United Nations. At the competition, Neo won the winds division by playing Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche, movements I, II, and III.