Johns Hopkins Gazette | March 30, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 30, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 28
Winners in Concerto Competition to Perform With HSO

Mengyu Lan, a graduate student in Civil Engineering, and Philip Wolf, a sophomore mathematics and economics major, are featured in Saturday's HSO concert.
Photo by David Friedlander

By Edie Stern
Hopkins Symphony Orchestra

When the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra takes the stage this weekend, the headliners will be a graduate student in the Whiting School's Department of Civil Engineering and a sophomore mathematics and economics major in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

The two accomplished musicians are pianist Mengyu Lan and cellist Philip Wolf, and their performances are the prize they won in the 2009 Johns Hopkins Concerto Competition.

Lan will play the first movement of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, Opus 11, and Wolf will play Saint-Saens' Cello Concerto No. 1, Opus 33, both under the baton of Vladimir Lande, conductor of the Hopkins Symphony Chamber Orchestra.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, in the SDS Room of the Mattin Center, on the Homewood campus. Also on the evening's program is Schubert's String Quintet in C, Allegro ma non troppo, and works for bassoon ensemble.

The winners were chosen from a field of nine contestants, based on an application and audition. The judges were Jed Gaylin, Hopkins Symphony Orchestra music director; Lande; and Miryam Yardumian, former director of Artists and Special Projects for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Lan, who comes from Chongqing, China, began studying piano at age 5 with professors from the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and later studied with such world-renowned professors as Zhaoyi Dan and Daxin Zheng. In 1992, he became the youngest pianist ever to achieve the second-highest national level of piano performance in China. In 2000, he was awarded first prize in a provincewide piano competition and was declared the national winner at Tsinghua University Art Camp. He has given solo recitals at Zhongshan Park Hall, Beijing Jinfan Hall and Tsinghua University. At Johns Hopkins, he has performed with the Hopkins Symphony Chamber Orchestra. He studies at the Peabody Conservatory with Corey McVicar.

Wolf grew up in Belmont, Mass., where he graduated from Belmont High School. He began playing cello in first grade. His early teachers were Barbara Pashke and, at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, Laura Blustein. During seven years playing in the Boston Youth Symphony, he was one of 10 student musicians chosen to take part in a cultural exchange in Laikipia, Kenya. A documentary film made about this project won an honorable mention at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. During summer 2007, he participated in the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. He now plays in the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra; has taught cello to children in the music program at Margaret Brent Elementary School, located near the Homewood campus; and has organized and played in chamber music ensembles in collaboration with Michael Kannen, director of chamber music at the Peabody Conservatory. He studies at Peabody with Daniel Levitov.

Chairing the 2009 competition was junior Larissa Woskob, from State College, Pa. She is a behavioral biology major and a bioethics minor in the Krieger School, a member of the Woodrow Wilson Debate Council and president of the Bioethics Society. Since her freshman year, she has been a pianist with the Hopkins Symphony and Chamber orchestras. She studies at the Peabody Conservatory with Corey McVicar.

The Johns Hopkins Concerto Competition was created by 2008 alumnus Hernan del Aguila, who wanted to give students on the Homewood campus a chance "to further their musical studies, gain experience in auditioning for professional musicians and receive public recognition for their work." The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students who are not pursuing degrees in music.

Tickets for the April 4 concert are free for Johns Hopkins students; $6 for other students, seniors (age 60+) and Johns Hopkins staff, faculty and alumni; and $8 general admission.

For more information about the competition winners, the April 4 performance and all HSO programs, go to, call 410-516-6542 or e-mail


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