Overture Awards finalists off to Aronoff Center


Nadya Ellerhorst

Kasey Shao, ‘21, who began playing piano at age six, is no stranger to competition, having won awards at many national and international music competitions. Shao will utilize her musical talent in the Overture Awards’ final round on March 7.

While a great deal of attention is brought on WHHS’ sports stars, renown is not something that should exist merely in Marx Stadium. WHHS’ artists have been putting on amazing performances as well. Nowhere is it more obvious than in the success of two students at the recent Cincinnati Overture Awards.
Two WHHS students, SENIOR Gaby Chiong and Kasey Shao, ‘21, have risen to the top of their art fields in visual art and instrumental music, respectively.
They will be showcasing their work to Cincinnati’s art community on March 7 at the Aronoff Center. It will be a culmination of their work as artists and recognition on a major stage.
The Overture Awards are a multi-stage arts competition. This program shows the great emphasis Cincinnati places on the arts. High school students can compete in a variety of categories including creative writing, dance, instrumental music, theater, visual art and vocal music.
The competition consists of three rounds, with the third being the upcoming final round. Each round, artists are met with new levels of critique.
After a grueling competition among many well-acclaimed artists, four finalists in each category have been chosen to showcase their work in the final round.
Finalists earn a thousand dollars for getting this far in the competition, certainly praise well deserved.
Chiong has previously won awards for her work in visual art. Since being introduced to the medium this year in her AP 3D Art and Design class, she has won praise for her work in sculpture. Her ability to pick up the new form so quickly is a testament to her skills as an artist.
Chiong is excited to pursue her skills. “I know I’m going to definitely do art in some form in college,” Chiong said. Chiong is taking what she has learned in the classroom as well as her own discovery and is putting it into her sculpture work.
Shao, an accomplished pianist, has excelled in mastering some of the most intricate piano pieces since she started playing at the age of six. The Overture Awards give Shao local recognition, but her success has exceeded beyond Cincinnati.

Nadya Ellerhorst
SENIOR Gaby Chiong poses next to the sculptures she entered into the Overture Awards, currently on view in the Arts and Science building. As a finalist, her art, based on well-known fairy tales, will be on display in the Aronoff Center’s Center Stage Room from March 3 to 7.

She has taken home the highest award at many competitions, coming in first place at the Crescendo International Music Competition and the Princeton Festival Piano Competition. She additionally took home the top prize from the National YoungArts competition, Steinway Society of New Jersey Young Pianist Competition and the National League of Performing Arts.
This is not Shao’s first time being a finalist for this competition, being awarded this prestigious title last year.
For the Overture Awards, Shao chose a varied repertoire. In the first round, she played Chopin’s Nocturne No. 2 and in the semifinals, she played Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 3. Shao was limited in what she could play by the competition’s strict five minute limit on all music pieces, but nonetheless her performances still managed to wow the judges.
Shao and Chiong are two finalists out of a wider pool of competitors. Shao encourages more students to try the Overture Awards.
“If it’s something that you love and it’s something that you put your time into then definitely go and show your art. The Overtures is a really great program and offers a really great opportunity to show your art,” Shao said.
Chiong and Shao will be competing in their respective disciplines for a $4000 prize. Yet, in many ways, the final round will prove to be less of a competition and more of a celebration of these two artists’ work. The stage will be due recognition for two promising students who exemplify WHHS’ valuing of artistic achievement.