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Heartland Chamber Music

Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

Presents the 2023 class of Festival Scholars

Festival Scholars

Meet The 2023 Scholars

Elizabeth Aoki | violin Born December 2002, has been playing violin since she was 5. After two months, she was accepted into the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she studied with Bettina Mussumeli. At age 6, she was the youngest prizewinner in the Nova Vista Young Artist Concerto Competition. In September 2011, she began her training at Juilliard Pre-College where she studied with Masao Kawasaki for the next decade. She has won many competitions, been featured as a soloist with Corpus Christi Symphony, Big Springs Symphony, Juilliard String Ensemble, in numerous concerts, recitals, and national radio broadcasts. She has also received invitations from several documentaries, major television networks, recording artists, international festivals, and red-carpet events for celebrities and world leaders. At age 9, she was featured on NPR’s Performance Today with Fred Child. Her performance of the first movement from “Wieniawski’s Concerto No. 1” was recorded live and broadcast nationally by American Public Media. Elizabeth participated in the Aspen Music Festival for 7 years, From the Top, and the Starling-DeLay Symposium. She has had master classes with artists such asRobert McDuffie, Sylvia Rosenberg, Donald Weilerstein, Natalia Likhopoi, and Viktor Tretiakov. Currently, she is enrolled at the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, situated in Macon, Georgia. In her spare time, Elizabeth likes to read, compose, write books, and occasionally draw.

Victor Diaz | viola Victor began his musical training in Bogotá, Colombia at the National Colombia Conservatory and he completed his undergraduatestudies with professor Benny Kim at UMKC. He is currently completing his graduate studies with Professor Ben Sayevich and PeterChun at Park ICM. He was a winner of The Young Performer Competition from the Colombian Republic Bank. He has traveled andplayed around the globe with the sponsorship of organizations such as the Colombian Youth Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Americas,and Sphinx Organization. Victor has been part of educational programs such as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy, Allegro VivoFestival in Austria, and the National Alliance of Audition Support training program. He has been part of orchestras such as BogotaSymphony Foundation, Topeka Symphony, Wichita Symphony, Saint Joseph Symphony and currently he subs with the KC symphony.He is a teaching artist at Harmony Project KC and a private instructor in the KC metro area. This summer, Victor will be a Scholar for the4th time at Heartland Chamber Music Festival, and he will keep developing his artistry to keep fostering the positive impact of musicthrough his playing and teaching.

Ilvina Gabrielian | violin Ilvina Gabrielian was born in Saint Petersburg (Russia) on December 22, 1995. She began to study music at the age of 6. In 2018, she graduated with honors from the Saint Petersburg State Conservatory where she studied with the violin Professor Alexander Stang. During her studies, Ilvina took part in concert trips to Holland, Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, and Armenia with solo and ensemble programs, and performed at such festivals as «Muzikale Oktober Best» (Holland) and the International Conservatory Week Festival (Saint Petersburg, Russia). In 2019, Ilvina became a Master's student at the University of Kansas where she joined the studio of the violin Professor David Colwell. In May 2021, she graduated with honors and became a DMA student at the same University. During her studies at KU, Ilvina had masterclasses (solo and with chamber groups) with such musicians as Gil Shaham, Zlatomir Fung, Frank Huang, Michael Stern, and Stephanie Chase. She also took part in a concert trip to Milan in 2019 and was a Heartland Chamber Music Festival participant in 2021 and 2022. Ilvina has been presenting solo and chamber music recitals every academic year. In September2022, Ilvina joined Kansas City Symphony as a substitute Violinist. Ilvina is a laureate of various International music competitions, such as the Rudolf Barshai International String Competition, Savshinsky International Music Competition, and Stockholm International Music Competition.

Lily Gruman | cello Lily Gruman is a cellist currently based in Lawrence, Kansas, as she pursues a Master of Music degree under the instruction of Hannah Collins and Mark Gibbs at the University of Kansas. She graduated in 2019 with bachelor’s degrees in Music and Electrical Engineering, with a minor in Music Technology, from Iowa State University, where she studied cello with George Work, served as principal cellist of the ISU Symphony Orchestra, and in 2018 won the ISU Concerto Competition with Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto. She is currently the principal cellist of the University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra and a section cellist in the Topeka Symphony Orchestra. At ISU and KU, Lily has performed numerous chamber works by composers such as Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Mendelssohn, as well as herself and her classmates. During her time working as an engineer, she was a member of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, including its 2020 and 2021 “Civic in the City” summer outdoor chamber music outreach series, as well as other KC area community orchestras. Lily has also worked as an instructor for the Midwest Music Camps at KU and as a teaching assistant for the OPUS Chamber Music Camp in Naperville, Illinois. In addition to cello, Lily plays several other instruments, composes, and tinkers with electronic and digital tools for composition, production, and analysis. She hopes to develop her passions into a career creating music in a variety of contexts, from studios and theaters to chamber ensembles and orchestras.

Chung-Wen Lee | viola Chung-Wen (Katy) Lee is an accomplished Taiwanese violist based in Kansas City. With a passion for music that began at a young age, Katy received professional training in viola, piano, and the Chinese instrument zhongruan at a prestigious musical elementary school in Taiwan. Katy's dedication to her craft led to numerous achievements, including winning first prize at the Taoyuan City Music Competition in 2013. She served as the principal violist of the Wu Ling Philharmonic, touring in Taiwan, China, and Japan. In the United States, she has performed with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, the Topeka Symphony Orchestra, and recorded an acclaimed CD album with the Midwest Chamber Ensemble. Passionate about fostering musical excellence, Katy has been involved in various summer music festivals. She has shared her expertise as a teaching assistant at the Walnut Hill Music Festival in Boston, won the Chamber Music Competition at Round Top Festival Institute, and was invited to participate in the Taipei Music Academy Festival, founded by renowned violinist Cho-Liang (Jimmy) Lin. Katy is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Viola Performance under the guidance of Professor Scott Lee at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) as the violist of the Graduate Fellowship String Quartet. 

Cole Leonard | cello Cole Leonard, an exceptional 23-year-old cellist and multi-instrumentalist, has embarked on a musical journey defined by remarkable perseverance. Hailing from Gravette, Arkansas, he has triumphed over tremendous challenges, including a victorious battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2022. Despite facing cancer and enduring chemotherapy, Cole's love for music remained unwavering. Overcoming significant nerve damage caused by both the cancer and treatments, he defied limitations, playing his instruments without any strength or sensation in several areas of his arms and hands, a testament to his extraordinary determination. Currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Cello Performance under the guidance of esteemed Professor Guy Johnston at the renowned Eastman School of Music, Cole has received numerous accolades for his talent and dedication. Concurrently, he is pursuing a minor in Audio Music Engineering at the University of Rochester. Beyond the cello, Cole showcases his versatility as a proficient pianist, guitarist, bassist, drummer, and producer. He has a flair for composition, winning his first competition at the age of 11. Cole has written, recorded, and produced 2 original EP's so far and hopes to be a successful recording artist in his future. Cole's musical pursuits have taken him to prestigious festivals, including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, International Cello Institute, Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Lone Star Young Artist Program, AlpenKammerMusik, and Heartland Chamber Music Festival, where he has participated several times since the age of 15. Sharing the stage with acclaimed musicians such as Alan Vizzuti, Joshua Bell, and David Zinman, he has also had the privilege of playing in masterclasses led by renowned cellists Zlatomir Fung and Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

Mike Perroud | violin Mike Perroud decided to start the violin after seeing this innocent instrument hanging on the living room wall as a decoration. One year later, he was accepted at the Conservatoire de Neuchâtel (Switzerland). Along with his high school education, he continued his musical studies in Bulgaria with Prof. Evgenia-Maria Popova from the National Academy of Music in Sofia, where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree as a student of Prof. Ginka Gichkova. After this long stay in Sofia, he went on to earn his Master’s degree in interpretation at the University of Music of Nürnberg, Germany, in the class of Dr. Reto Kuppel. He also took part in masterclasses of renowned teachers and performers such as Shlomo Mintz, Zachar Bron, Detlef Hahn, Albert Markov, Pierre Amoyal, Mincho Minchev. He has been awarded various prizes in Switzerland, Germany and Bulgaria (Swiss Youth Music Competition, National Music Academy of Sofia Competition, among others) and has performed as a soloist in Switzerland, Bulgaria, and USA (Orchestre des Jeunes de la Suisse Romande, La Concordia Harmonie, Fribourg CH, Sofia Philharmonic, UTSO Knoxville, Tennessee…). In addition to his musical education, he has been involved with his fellows violinists Yana Zelenogorska and Sanjar Sapaev in the realization of musical projects. Thus was born their chamber ensemble "Les Pinsons Divers" which has been performing at festivals or on small concert tours in Switzerland since 2017. Mike Perroud is currently studying with Dr. Miroslav Hristov as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Tennessee Knoxville School of Music.

Rachel Yi | violin Known for her boundless imagination and deep understanding of music, Rachel Yi is a promising violinist currently studying for a Masters’ degree of Music at the New England Conservatory. As a student of Ms. Miriam Fried, Rachel has also studied privately and taken master classes with other renowned artists, including Paul Biss, Mihaela Martin, Nicholas Kitchen, Paul Kantor, Daniel Phillips, Hye-Jin Kim, and Ara Gregorian. Awarded first place at the 2016 Young Artists Orchestra Concerto Competition, Rachel also placed second in the Clemson University Concerto Competition in 2015. Both prizes gave her the opportunity to solo with the full orchestra. Rachel is the recipient of several scholarships including the Anthony Quinn Foundation, Fine Arts Foundation and GCYO. Rachel has been invited to participate in many music festivals, such as the Heifetz Institute of Music, Madeline Island Chamber Music, Heartland Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, the East Carolina University Summer Chamber Music Institute, Taos Chamber Music Festival, and most recently, Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute. 

2023 Festival Scholars

Each year young up and coming artists audition to become one of 8 selected students to be a part of our Festival Scholars program. 


Festival Scholars is a full scholarship opportunity for 8 highly-gifted musicians to receive intense chamber music coaching with the festival artistic director, Jackie Lee, and Miami String Quartet members; Benny Kim, Scott Lee, and Keith Robinson as well as the Grammy Award-Winning Parker Quartet.


Scholars also perform live on Kansas Public Radio and are featured in their own performance on August 4th in Yardley Hall.

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