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Canadian teen among semifinalists in Cliburn Piano Competition

A Canadian teenager is among the 12 semifinalists in the 15th Cliburn International Piano Competition in Dallas. Tony Yike Yang, an 18-year-old from Toronto, is the youngest person in the competition.

Toronto's Tony Yike Yang, 18, is the youngest pianist in the event

Tony Yike Yang's family is originally from China and moved to Canada when he was young. (CBC Music)

A Canadian teenager is among the 12 semifinalist in the 15th Cliburn International Piano Competition in Dallas.

Toronto's Tony Yike Yang, 18, is the youngest person in the current competition, named after American pianist Van Cliburn, who died in 2013.

The Cliburn competition, created by a group of Fort Worth teachers and citizens in 1962, is held every four years as a prominent showcase for young pianists. First prize this year includes $50,000 US cash and a live recording with Universal Music Group.

"It is a forum for young artists to celebrate the great works of the piano literature and an opportunity to expose their talents to a wide-ranging international audience," Cliburn said during the 10th competition in 1997. 

In the quarterfinal round, Yang performed Scriabin's Sonata No. 2 and Liszt's B Minor Sonata.

Fellow Canadian Tristan Teo, a 20-year-old from Vancouver, did not make the cut for the semifinals. Over the 14 past competitions, no Canadian has ever won.

Piano prodigy

Yang's family is originally from China and moved to Canada when he was young, he told NBC's Dallas–Fort Worth affiliate.

In 2014, Yang won first prize at the Cooper International Competition, impressing the jury with his rendition of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Cleveland Orchestra. The win netted him $10,000 US and a full scholarship to attend the Oberlin Conservatory.

In 2015, he placed fifth in the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition. Fellow Canadian Charles Richard-Hamelin placed second, behind South Korean winner Seong-Jin Cho.

That same year, Yang was also featured in CBC Music's 30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30.

In March 2016, Yang announced he was accepted to Harvard. He told NBC he plans to major in economics or government. According to his Twitter bio, he attended Julliard pre-college, from 2014-2015.

The Cliburn semifinal round is scheduled for June 1-5. Competitors will each play a 60-minute solo recital as well as a Mozart concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

The final is scheduled for June 7-10. The six finalists will each perform a piano quintet with the Brentano String Quartet and a Romantic concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on the evening of the final day.

With files from The Associated Press and CBC Music