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16-Year-Old Hawken Senior Wins National Award for Piano Repertoire

Arthur Erlendsson joins the likes of Kerry Washington and Raul Esparza as a National YoungArts Foundation award winner.

Photo Courtesy of Hawken School. Arthur Erlendsson is pictured during a performance with the Cleveland Orchestra in 2012
Photo Courtesy of Hawken School. Arthur Erlendsson is pictured during a performance with the Cleveland Orchestra in 2012
Arthur Erlendsson began practicing piano at four years old, but now he has an award that represents his hard work as well as any he has received.

The National YoungArts Foundation named Arthur, a senior at Hawken School, as one of its  2013 national award winners for a piano repertoire he submitted earlier this year. Arthur is one of the 685 winners selected from a pool of 10,000 students.

"I know that YoungArts is obviously a very high accomplishment," he said. "I guess I was glad that I had something to show for the work that I've done and all the help I've gotten from teachers and parents.

"It was a very exciting moment."

Arthur's submitted piece included his versions of works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Frédéric François Chopin. Famous YoungArts winners include actress Kerry Washington, four-time Tony Award nominee Raul Esparza and Executive Director of American Ballet Theatre Rachel Moore.    

Though Arthur is a member of the Cleveland Youth Orchestra and has won Cleveland Institute of Music scholarships, he admits to be a fairly nervous performer. He was much more at home recording his YoungArts pieces in a studio.

"(In a studio setting) I'm always starting over countless times — I think for one of the pieces i sent to YoungArts, I started over 40 times," he said. "I really enjoy having that control that you don't have in a performance, but I need to pick it up in my performances."

One of the more remarkable things about the soon-to-be-graduate — and one that he barely mentions — is that he is only 16 years old. He turns 17 in early June, but says there are few academic or musical instances where his age is a factor.

"Maybe during standardized tests," he said. "My brain is not developed in some ways yet, but I look like an 18 year old. I feel like a senior, and I'm ready to leave the house. I really don't feel like I'm 16 and everybody else is 17 and 18."

He'll leave his parents' Pepper Pike house in a few months to begin his college education at Yale University. He will earn degrees in the School of Music, but is unsure whether to pursue economics, engineering or something else for his degree. 

He will need to audition for a studio at Yale, but is confident that the early teachings of musicians  Olga Radosavljevich, Cecilia O’Linn, Adeline Huss, Antonio Pompa-Baldi and Vladimir Deninzon, of Highland Heights, will give him all the preparation he needs.

"They really turned me into the musician I am today, in terms of technicality," he said, also giving credit to his parents and older sister.

"Without all of them, I would not be anywhere near where I am today."

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