One of the earliest public performances Helen gave was a solo recital at age 9 at the Estes Park Music Festival (CO) in the Stanley Hotel (the location where Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was filmed), and at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan.
The American College of Musicians National Guild of Piano Teachers USA in the Taiwan area also invited her to perform in Fo Guang Shan Nan Ping Temple to help raise money for underprivileged children, and children with cerebral palsy. Helen made her orchestral debut at the age of 17 with the University of the Incarnate Word Orchestra performing the first movement of Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C Major in their newly built recital hall. Just a few months later, Helen performed as soloist with the San Antonio Symphony with their Young People’s Concert Series in six performances of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals in the Tobin Center. Most recently, she was principal celeste with the CIM orchestra in two concerts, playing Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra in November 2017, and Holst's The Planets in February 2018.
Awards and Honors
Helen has won over 50 national and international awards as a pre-college musician. Among those are most notably first place winner of the Bradshaw Buono International Piano Competition (2006) in New York, making her Carnegie Hall debut at age 8 in Weill Recital Hall. She has also won first place awards seven times in the United States Open Music Competition (CA), three consecutive first prize wins at the DeBose National Piano Competition (LA), as well as wins in the following: the United States International Duo Piano Competition (CO), International Chopin Youth Competition (TX), McKinney Young Artists Competition (TX), Texas State Young Artist Piano Competition, Hubbard Chamber Music Young Artists Solo and Chamber Music Competition (TX), San Antonio Symphony Future Stars Concerto Competition (TX), and the MCC Piano Competition (TX).
Festivals and Collaborative Work
In 2009, Helen participated in the inaugural season of the Texas State International Piano Festival (TSIPF). After winning first prize in the Texas State Young Artist Piano Competition, she received a full-tuition scholarship to attend the 4th TSIPF in 2013. During this festival, Helen appeared on From the Top on NPR with a 5 piano ensemble, and has been interviewed several times by Austin’s classical music station, KMFA 89.5 since that radio performance. She also won second prize in TSIPF’s ‘blind’ competition and received another full-tuition scholarship to attend the 5th TSIPF in 2014.
Ensemble-wise, Helen began performing chamber music with a preformed piano trio consisting of her high school peers in 2014, and played for her high school’s last orchestra concert of 2015. That summer, she was invited to attend a summer workshop with a scholarship from the Austin Chamber Music Center. She played in a preassigned piano trio and quintet, and was chosen to play with a few other ACMC participants with Time For Three, a “classically trained garage band" in a concert at UT-Austin's Bass Concert Hall.
In 2016, she was chosen among the ACMC’s best chamber musicians to be apart of their pilot program, the Honors Chamber Music Ensemble. She rehearsed with a piano quartet throughout the school year, ending with a recital hosted by ACMC in May 2016. That summer, Helen was also invited by Jinjoo Cho to be apart of the inaugural Encore Chamber Music Sonata Duo Intensive Program held in Cleveland, Ohio.
Most recently, Helen was awarded the Piano Trio Fellowship for the Young Artist Seminar held at Rocky Ridge Music Center in Estes Park, CO, and performed multiple times over the course of the festival as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra keyboardist.
Community Service and AYMA
As a freshman in high school, Helen developed and created a local outreach program called the Austin Youth Music Ambassadors (AYMA), sponsored by the Austin District Music Teachers Association. AYMA ambassadors are pre-college children who locally perform during the school year at area retirement homes and many Title I elementary schools. From 2013 to 2016, she and her siblings were ambassadors, and performed under the “Classically Cool” education concert series, supporting the music curriculum at those schools, and hosting food drives to local food pantries and the Capital Area Food Bank, where she later volunteered for a school service day in May 2016. Helen also connected Austin Chamber Music Center faculty with AYMA members to collaborate in their programs, and all AYMA ambassadors were given a scholarship to attend the next summer workshop.
In 2014, Helen was also selected as one of five “San Antonio Youth Music Ambassadors” sponsored by the San Antonio International Piano Competition, and for two years, she did recitals in the Historic House tours and in-home salon series. They also selected her to be a junior jury member for the 12th San Antonio International Piano Competition, where the members gave a Junior Jury Award to Saet-byeol Kim.