Katrina Jia Eleven Year Old Pianist Takes 1st Place in National Piano Competition

Katrina Jai at Piano (2)

 – By JoAnn Richi

Published  Apr. 5th 2012 The Asian American Times.

Katrina Jia, 11 is a shy little girl with a beautiful smile. In a long blue silk dress, and shiny new shoes, with her jet black hair neatly combed and tumbling below her shoulders she politely answers the usual questions.


Asked what she especially likes to do, her glance steals over to the massive Steinway piano dominating the cavernous studio

Under the proud gaze of her mother, and Fei Xu; her piano teacher “from her first note”, Katrina Jia appears to embrace the keyboard effortlessly playing, from memory, Scarlatti’s Sonata in E Major.

Fei Xu, founder and co-owner with his wife Hong Zhu of the New Century Conservatory are world acclaimed piano pedagogues, noted for training budding prodigies.

A jovial man with a wide friendly smile, Fei Xu reminisces about his student as a kindergartener when her family first brought her to him for training. “She would start to play and then stop. I would say; ‘Go, continue, play! But she knew what she was doing, her mental control is unbelievable, she was hearing and playing the entire piece in her mind before touching the keys.” After just one year of training, Katrina had played three house concerts with complete new programs.

About her graceful, dance-like keyboard style, Fei Xu says;

“Her playing is very expressive, and that is so rare in a child her age.”

The judges at the MTNA National Junior Piano Competition were also impressed. As one judge exclaimed; “It is unimaginable how she puts her heart into everything she does.”

Her style of paying has also been described as “dynamic and vibrant”.

Just back from a family trip to Washington D.C., this San Tan Elementary School 6th grader was wide eyed about their excursion to New York City, where she took 1st Place in junior division of the MTNA National Junior Piano and Competition and Chopin Foundation of America Best Performance Award.

Getting to this competition has been a long, successful journey.

Winning the 1st Place in state competition in November, 2011 granted her the right to compete at regional competition held in Las Vegas in January, 2012.

Facing fierce competition from the most talented young pianist from Utah, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Hawaii, Katrina took first place in the Southwest Regional competition. She went on to the National finals in New York City last week, where seven other regional winners across the country competed for the title ” Notional Winner.”

The youngest pianist in the Junior division; Katrina Jia wowed the judges with her performance of Scarlatti’s Sonata in E Major, Mozart’s Sonata in C Major, Chopin’s Etude in F Minor, and ‘Miroirs’ by Ravel. 1st Place again.

Asked if she had anything more she wanted to tell us, Katrina lowered her eyes and quietly said; “I’d like to thank my teacher and my parents for always being there for me, for helping and supporting me. I am very grateful”.

And then, with a shy smile, she went back to the piano.


–   Photograph and article by JoAnn Richi   jorichi@cox.net

One time rights to The Asian Times. Photograph ‘Katrina Jia at Piano and article ‘Little Girl, Big Talent. Katrina Jia Eleven Year Old Pianist Takes 1st Place in National Piano Competition’ © JoAnn Richi March 2012