Music Doing Good Announces the 2015-2016 Scholarship Recipients

Music Doing Good with Scholarships not only had a record year for scholarship applications, but also for scholarship grants! Thirty worthy students were awarded scholarships to fund private lessons, music workshops or festivals, or tuition through an educational institution. Introducing the 2015-2016 Scholarship recipients:

Steven Dong, 14, is a 9th grader at Clear Lake High School. In Michigan, he started playing piano at age 5 and continued his studies in Iowa a year later as the family relocated. At age 11, Steven was the Iowa State winner of the MNTA junior division piano competition and also won an honorable mention in the Level E Iowa Music Teachers Association state piano competition. In 2012, he moved to Houston and became a student of Mr. John Weems. Steven won first place in the Houston Forum for Young Artist competitions in 2013 and 2014, and also became one of the finalists to perform in the TMTA state piano competition in 2014. In December 2014, he was chosen to be a finalist performer in the Houston Young Artists’ Concert at Rice University. In January 2015, Steven won an honorable mention in the Clear Lake Symphony competition. Aside from piano, he enjoys listening to piano recordings by performers such as Boris Berman and Daniel Barenboim. Steven also enjoys watching and playing basketball and football. (77062)

Sherry Hu, 15, is a tenth grader at Stephen F. Austin High School in Sugar Land. She started learning piano at age 5 and has won numerous awards, including 2nd place in the 2015 American Protégé International Piano and String competition and 1st place with honors in the 2014 Sonatina and Sonata International Youth Piano Competition. Sherry was selected as a member of the 2014 Texas All-State orchestra and placed 1st in the 2013 TMEA Area Orchestra audition. She also took first prizes in the HMTA piano competition (2010-2012), Sherman Clay youth piano competition (2011), and Fort Bend Piano Festival (2013). Aside from playing piano, she is an award winning soloist with the Chinese zither or guzheng. Sherry won the Judges’ Distinction Award, Best Performance Award, and first place in the American Protégé International Music Talent competition in Fall of 2014. She has been awarded with the title of Houston Young Artist (2009-2015) and invited to play live guzheng music on KUHF 88.7FM/KUHA 91.7 FM (2009-2012). Sherry’s performance was also aired on Houston PBS Ch. 8 (2012). She has been learning violin for four and a half years and was selected as a member of the TMEA Region XII MS or HS Symphony Orchestra three times. For both piano and guzheng, Sherry has performed at Carnegie Hall. (77479)

Armir Lee began playing alto saxophone at the age of 10 during his fifth grade year of elementary school. His primary focus and education was in classical music, however, he also played in middle school jazz band over the next couple of years. By eighth grade, Armir was studying jazz with more direction, specifically with improvisation. He placed second chair in the All-City Band and first chair in the RegionBand during his eighth grade year. In high school, he received invaluable instruction about jazz from teachers and peers and began playing tenor sax, as well. Sophomore year he placed second chair in the Region Jazz band and received the Outstanding Soloist award in the University of Houston Moores Jazz Festival. In 2015, Armir placed first chair in the Region Jazz band. He also plays at various venues such as fundraisers, churches, and corporate events. (77077)

Hailey Lewis began playing the flute in the sixth grade. She quickly found passion in making music and continues to do so. Currently a sophomore at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, she works hard to accomplish her goals, such as making All-State Band, which she accomplished in February 2015. Hailey is active in the Houston Flute Club and the Houston Youth Symphony, as well as her school’s band and orchestra programs. She currently studies with Sergio Pallottelli and upon finishing high school, hopes to major in music and flute performance and on to a career as a professional musician. (77054)

Esther Liao, a senior at Bellaire High School in Houston, Texas, began playing piano at the age of four.  At age six, she was recommended to study with Mr. Scott Holshouser, the principal keyboardist of the Houston Symphony. Not long after winning her first piano competition at the age of six, Esther won the Houston Music Teacher Association Concerto Competition the following year. At age nine, she made her debut with the Houston Symphony as the youngest Silver Medalist of the Houston Symphony League Youth Competition. Three years later, Ester took home the Gold Medal. Over the years she has received numerous top awards from competitions and performed as a soloist with the Fort Bend Symphony, the Symphony North of Houston, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Montgomery Symphony in Alabama, and multiple times with the Houston Symphony. In 2013, she made her Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall as the Grand Prize winner of the 2013 American Protégé International Concerto Competition in New York.  Esther was named the First Prize winner of the 10th Annual Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition as well as a Texas Young Master by the Texas Senate and the Texas Commission of the Arts. Most recently, she was named the First Place winner of the 2015 Blount-Slawson Young Artist Competition and has been featured on NPR’s “From the Top” and on Houston’s KUHA Classical Radio Station. Last summer, Esther was also invited to perform at the Menton Music Festival in France as the First Prize winner of the 2014 International Music Competition Jacques Taddei. She is a 2015 semi-finalist in the Houston Symphony’s Ima Hogg Competition and was also named a recipient of a scholarship from Music Doing Good this spring. Esther will be attending Princeton University in the fall where she hopes to continue her musical studies. (77036)

At age 6, Joseph London began piano lessons on an electric keyboard and about a year later, the family was bequeathed a piano. At eight, he began to practice music at the Duquesne University Mary Pappert School of Music’s City Music Program, where he took theory classes, eurythmic classes, as well as piano lessons. Joseph also began singing and performed regularly in their performance class. Upon moving to Houston, Joseph could not take lessons, but continued to practice. He took piano lessons through the University of St. Thomas’ Music Preparatory program for more than two and a half years. Joseph also volunteers at Catholic Charities and plays as an opening act for regional artists at a Community Concert held at a special luncheon for elderly and disabled community members. Joseph has played in Dr. Krystofiak’s fall and spring recitals each year. In both 2014 and 2013, he also had the honor of playing at the annual all-school UST Music Preparatory recitals. He competed in the Houston area’s Texas Music Teachers Association student music contest and won first place for solo piano. Joseph plans to compete at TMTA’s state convention in June. (77099)

Katerina Sawyer, 14, plays saxophone, bagpipes and clarinet and will be attending the Awty International School in the fall. She founded an all-girl band called the Polka Dots, who play for retirement homes, hospitals and places she says “need cheer to the most.” Katerina is also a member of the Galveston Historical Foundation and plays regularly at Dickens on the Strand and Historic Homes Tour Day. Last year, she was invited to play with the National Chamber Orchestra in Almaty, Kazakhstan – an incredible honor for this young musician. In 2014, Katerina also made her debut as a soloist when she was invited to play at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and she performed at the Children’s Museum of Houston, which was televised on KTRK-TV, Ch. 13. She has shared the stage many times with the artists of Music Doing Good and continues to hone her skill as a budding and philanthropic young musician. (77355)

Chase Smith is currently a freshman in the classical piano department at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He attended music magnet schools throughout his education including Parker Elementary and Johnston Middle School, and always balanced music with the Gifted and Talented Program, Vanguard Program or Pre-Advanced Placement classes. By the second grade, Chase had already created an original piece of music, which he performed in a piano recital. Additionally, he played the marimba, snare and bass drums in Parker Elementary School band that won a state competition in San Antonio. During middle school, Chase played the acoustic guitar and piano for three years. In the spring of 2013, he began private piano lessons for the first time, whereas prior, he received lessons only in a school setting. Last year, the Smith family received a generous donation of a piano for their home. Chase volunteers his time in the community each weekend as part of a worldwide Bible educational work. He also enjoys running and playing basketball. (77031)

Nathaniel Zhang is a freshman at Clements High School in Sugar Land, Texas. Born in Houston, Nathaniel displayed exceptional musical talent from an early age. He has been playing piano since he was six years old and is currently studying piano with Mr. John Weems. He won numerous awards in a variety of competitions: 1st place in 2015 Texas State University Young Artists Piano Competition, winner of 2014/2015 HYAC, 2nd place in 2015 Blinn College Young Artists Piano Competition, 1st place of 2014/2015 High School All-Region Piano Competition, finalists at TMTA in 2013 and 2014, semi-finalist at MTNA in 2013 and finalist in 2014 and 1st place in 2013 Clear Lake Young Artists Piano Concerto Competition. Additionally, Nathaniel has been a Music Doing Good scholarship recipient in 2013 and 2014.

Besides piano, Nathaniel is also the concertmaster in the sinfonia orchestra at Clements High School. He has participated in the TMEA All-Region Symphony Orchestra from 2012 to 2014 and has still continued to join in the 2014-2015 TMEA High School Region Symphony Orchestra. During his free time, Nathaniel loves to volunteer at local communities such as helping school orchestra teachers and students and performing at the local events and several different non-profit organizations and nursing homes. (77479)

Music Doing Good inspires and transforms children’s lives through innovative, music-based programming and performance experiences. Our outreach programs bring musical enrichment to children in Houston who need it the most. The programs use music to stimulate minds, spark creativity and ignite imagination.

Music Doing Good in Schools engages the whole child in an after-school music and theater program designed to educate and empower participants, culminating in a student-driven performance in one of Houston’s premier performing arts venues.

Music Doing Good with Instruments collects, refurbishes and grants free gently-used instruments to underserved children and underfunded school districts.

Music Doing Good with Scholarships grants awards to fund lessons and tuition to students in grades 6 – 12, who display financial need and exceptional musical talent.


For more information, please visit or call 713.715.4923. High resolution photos are available for all scholarship recipients. Please email Julie Lambert at for photos.