Starla Blair, Presentations Chairman
902 Gaslight Dr
Springfield, MO 65810

NFMC is proud to list the outstanding winners of Young Artist Awards selected in 2023. For more information on booking these winners please contact Starla Blair listed above. If you are interested in having a Young Artist perform you can download the Young Artist Inquiry form here.

Leland Ko, Cellist

Leland Philip Ko (b. 1998), a cellist of Chinese-Canadian descent, is the kind of person who’s always had an overflow of energy. His restlessness has led him to  various callings, from competitive tennis and distance running to calligraphy and origami, but so far he’s found that making music with and for others – and the process that goes into that – are the things that best focus his mind, and that this restlessness is what gives him an almost stubborn desire to
experience something with his audiences and colleagues every time he walks out on stage. Though he has chosen to dedicate himself to classical music, he does his best to remember and live by a former mentor’s advice that music is about life, not the other way around.
Leland was born and raised in the Boston area, where he studied with Kirstin Peltz, Ronald Lowry, and Paul Katz. He earned a B.A. from Princeton University in German literature, before attending The Juilliard School for his M.M., studying with Minhye Clara Kim, Timothy Eddy, and Natasha Brofsky. He has returned to Boston to pursue an A.D. at the New England Conservatory with Yeesun Kim and Donald Weilerstein, and resides in the city with his
11-year-old cat, Ham.

Leland Ko’s – YouTube Channel

Krista Pape, Soprano

Praised for her “virtuoso and fiery performance, famous pyrotechnics and all,” (Rutland Herald), soprano Krista Renée Pape made her professional debut as Queen of the Night with Opera North in 2020. As a resident artist at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, she has performed: Frasquita and covered Micaëla (Carmen), Annina and covered Violetta (La traviata), Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Mrs. Grady and covered Wendy (The Shining), and Woman 4 (Sondheim on Sondheim). Pape graduated with a Masters in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy (2020) from the University of Houston. Additional competition and awarded prizes from: Metropolitan Opera Laffont National Council, National Society of Arts and Letters, MIOpera Vocal Competition, Lewisville Lake Symphony Vocal Competition, Pasadena Vocal Competition, MTNA Young Artist Performance in Voice, the San Antonio Tuesday Musical Club Young Artists Competition, National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist Competition, and a Fielder Grant. In the summer of 2023 she returned to Opera North to reprise Frasquita (Carmen) and premiere Julie Jordan (cover, Carousel), as well as attend the Collaborative Piano Institute as a vocal fellow. In summer 2022, Pape was a Fellow in the prestigious Music Academy of the West Vocal Institute, premiering as a soloist in the Tom Cipullo project and participating in several other chamber and large works

Krista Pape – YouTube Channel

Anna Han, Piano

ANNA HAN is a laureate of many competitions, including the NFMC Young Artist Auditions, Hilton Head International Piano Competition, Juilliard Bachauer Competition, New York International Piano Competition, and Salon de Virtuosi Grant. Born in Arizona, she studied piano privately with Fei Xu for thirteen years before completing her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Robert McDonald, receiving both the prestigious Kovner Fellowship and William Schuman Prize. She recently finished her Artist Diploma at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin, where she studied with Sir András Schiff and Schaghajegh Nostrati. An avid chamber musician, she is a returning fellow of Yellow Barn, Kneisel Hall, and Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival, and has performed with Steven Isserlis, Kim Kashkashian, Itzhak Perlman, Randall Goosby, Leland Ko, and the Verona Quartet. She has also performed eleven different concerti with orchestras, premiered multiple compositions, and recorded on the Steinway and Sons label. With support from the 2021 Bita Cattelan Philanthropic Engagement Award from Concours Musical International de Montréal, she is producing a documentary about the effect that Covid had on a handful of classical musicians. Based in between the US and Germany, she lives to share laughter, experiences, and sometimes, good music with friends all over the world. More information is available at

Anna Han – YouTube Channel

Michael Celentano, Tenor

Michael Celentano (tenor) is a former young artist at Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance and Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, NY. Recent appearances include Stony Brook Opera Theater’s production of Britten’s Albert Herring as Albert and Gustav Holst’s Savitri as Satyavan, Max in Bronx Opera’s production of Der Freischütz, Miner in La Fanciulla del West and Ensemble in L’Amore de tre Re, both with New York City Opera as well as  a Nibechung Vassal in The Metropolitan Opera’s 2019 production of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Upcoming performances include Radames (cover) and Messenger in Finger Lake Opera’s production of Aida, and a Festival Artist position with TUNDI Wager Festival in Brattleboro, Vermont. Mr. Celentano is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University and is a student of Jeremy Little.

Michael Celentano – YouTube Channel

Rector-Hong Duo, Ellis Duo Pianists

Pianists Sylvia Hong and Michael Rector began performing together as a duo shortly after being married in 2011. They have played recitals at the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul. In April 2014, they toured in Eastern Europe, performing with the Georgian Sinfonietta and Black Sea Symphony. Highlights of their numerous tours in Korea include playing two sold-out concerts on the same day in Busan, and an invitation to perform with the orchestra in the Olympic city of Gangneung during the 2018 winter games. Avid proponents of American music, Sylvia and Michael presented a lecture-recital on the music of Morton Feldman at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria, in 2019. Following extensive research at the Library of Congress, their current project is a recital program and recording of rediscovered 19th-century American compositions for four hands.

Sylvia Hong is known to audiences worldwide as a pianist of imagination and virtuosity. As a concerto soloist, Sylvia has played in Korea with the KBS Orchestra, Mokpo Symphony, Busan Symphony and Suwon Symphony. In her native United States, she has performed with the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic and Mt. Vernon Symphony Orchestra. She made her debut in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall at the age of 16 as the 1st prize winner of the National Russian Competition. Sylvia’s three commercial recordings, all live performances, were produced by the Far East Broadcasting Corporation. She was the Korea Times “Musician of the Year” for 2012. Sylvia credits much of her success to her principal teachers-Lydia Frumkin of Oberlin Conservatory, Lee Kum-Sing of the Vancouver Academy of Music, and Benjamin Pasternack of the Peabody Conservatory where she received her Performer’s Diploma in 2012. She is currently Associate Lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Michael graduated from the doctoral program at Manhattan School of Music in 2012, where his teacher was Philip Kawin. He also earned a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, where he majored in comparative literature. Michael has presented lecture-recitals and masterclasses both at home and abroad, including at China Conservatory in Beijing, the University of Kassel in Germany, and numerous universities and music schools in Korea. His academic research focuses on performance practice and style change, with forthcoming articles in the journals Empirical Musicology Review and Perspectives of New Music. He has also written about piano pedagogy for American Music Teacher, Clavier Companion, and the MTNA e-Journal. He is currently Associate Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Hector-Hong – YouTube Channel