CS student Catherine He, winner of 2023 Concerto and Aria competition, gives stellar performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Catherine He is a master of the keyboard.

She is not only a computer science student in her third year, but also an accomplished musician who began playing the piano at the age of 4 — an award winner of many regional, national and international piano competitions, among them orchestra@uwaterloo’s 2023 Concerto and Aria Competition, a contest open to Waterloo students and recent grads every other year.

Catherine’s playing of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor at the concerto competition in February 2023 was described by its judges as an “absolutely flawless and poignant” performance, earning her the opportunity to perform as a soloist with orchestra@uwaterloo at a public concert held at Knox Presbyterian Church on November 19.

photo of Catherine He at the piano

“Catherine’s performance of Chopin at Sunday’s concert was absolutely amazing. Every note was played with such grace and emotion,” said Raouf Boutaba, Professor and Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “It’s wonderful to see one of our students perform at this venue, as the orchestra and the competition have strong ties to computer science. Professor Emerita Anna Lubiw was a key person behind orchestra@uwaterloo’s inception and Professor Emeritus David Taylor created a legacy of classical music at the university by sponsoring the biennial concerto and aria competition.”

photo of David Taylor, Catherine He and Raouf Boutaba

From left to right: Professor Emeritus David Taylor, Catherine He and Professor and Cheriton School of Computer Science Director Raouf Boutaba after Catherine’s performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor at Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo.

Photo credit: Mark Vuorinen, DMA, Associate Professor and Chair of Music, Conrad Grebel University College

Orchestra@uwaterloo is a 60-member instrumental ensemble open to Waterloo students, staff, faculty and alumni. The orchestra is directed by Dan Warren, a well-known trumpeter, conductor, and creative advisor. 

About Catherine He

Catherine He started playing the piano at the age of 4. Under the tutelage of Lang-Ning Liu, she won numerous competitions, among them the CCC and CMC, and received her ARCT diploma at age 13. She also won first prize in the 28 and under piano category of OMFA, advancing to the FCMF nationals, where she received third place. On the international level, Catherine was a semi-finalist in both the CIPC for Young Artists and the International e-Piano Junior Competition. She also placed first in the Junior Division of the Canadian Chopin Competition. In 2020, she won the Overall prize in Division IV of the Steinway Canada Virtual Piano Competition. Catherine graduated from the Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists in 2021. She is currently completing her 3A term of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo.

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