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Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2009

IU String Academy cellists win top prizes at Popper International Cello Competition

Dec. 16, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Several cellists from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music String Academy received top honors at the David Popper International Cello Competition Nov. 12-15 in Varpalota, Hungary.

IU String Academy Popper Competition cellists with head of academy cello department, Susan Moses (far right).

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Michael Zyzak won first place in the junior (11-14 year-old) division. His win was the only unanimous decision by the judges in the competition. Zyzak has studied with head of the academy's cello department, Susan Moses, for seven years.

Laura Szabo, who has studied with Moses and Summer String Academy faculty member Csaba Onczay, won first place in the intermediate (15-17 year-old) group.

Ildiko Szabo, a student of Moses and Onczay, won first place in the senior (18-21 year-old) division. Szabo, who is from Budapest, has attended the String Academy for the past three summers.

Ju Hyun Lee won second place in the junior division, shared with a Polish student and an Austrian student who will attend the String Academy this summer.

Gabe Martins was a finalist in the junior division, while Young Hoon Koh was a semi-finalist in the intermediate group.

One of the most important contests in the world for young cellists, the David Popper Competition is named after the Bohemian cellist and composer. The competition attracts the finest international players, with this year's group coming from the United States, Korea, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.

Onczay, a former visiting professor at the Jacobs School, was president of this year's jury of internationally recognized cello performers and teachers, including Moses.

"The Popper Competition is immensely important to our students because it opens them up to the world at large," said Moses. "To hear young people in their age group so intensely devoted to the cello allows them to engage in a world of excellence and create lifelong friendships. This is truly a life-changing experience for them."

The Jacobs School of Music has had a unique affiliation with the Popper tradition in that IU Distinguished Professor Janos Starker, legendary cellist, studied with Popper's final protégé, Adolf Schiffer.

The IU String Academy will sponsor the first Popper Festival Day -- associated with the Popper International Competition -- on Feb. 27, 2010.

Past students of Moses who have won at the competition and gone on to acclaim include James Kim, Nathan Vickery and Shannon Hayden.