At only 18, a master of the classical piano

Youthful playing comes naturally for George Li, because the pianist is only 18 years old. This precocious talent performs for the Candlelight Concert Society on Saturday, March 22, at 8 p.m., at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre.

His program covers a lot of musical territory. The classicism of the late 18th century is represented by the Haydn Sonata in B minor, Hob. XVI: 32. He moves into mid-19th-century romanticism with two works by a master of writing for the keyboard, Chopin's Nocturne in B Major and Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor. And he shows how romanticism evolved in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with Debussy's Images, Book I; and also two works by Ravel, Oiseaux tristes from Miroirs, and La Valse.

The Boston-born pianist didn't waste any time getting his professional career launched. He made his first public performance at age 10 at Boston's Steinway Hall. He also garnered media exposure when he appeared on "The Martha Stewart Show" in New York City in 2007.

A crucial award was bestowed on Li when he was named the first prize winner of the 2010 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. That same year he performed four newly learned concertos with six symphony orchestras, as well as eight major solo recitals. As if that weren't accomplishment enough, he also passed the ninth grade with high marks.

He's enjoyed playing recitals in New York City and elsewhere; been a soloist with American orchestras in cities including Cleveland and Boston; and internationally performed with the Xiamin Philharmonic in China and I Solisti di Perugia in Italy.

In 2012, Li was named the winner of the Gilmore Young Artist Award, and also was the recipient of the Jabor Foundation Piano Award at the Verbier Academy.

In our own region, he performed in Washington, D.C., in 2011 at a White House State Dinner, and in 2013 played a recital at the Strathmore in North Bethesda.

Li presently studies at a joint music program at Harvard University and the New England Conservatory. Any way you look at it, he seems like a fast study.

George Li performs Saturday, March 22, at 8 p.m. at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Tickets are $32, $30 for seniors, $12 for students, free for ages 9- 17 with a paying adult. Call 410-997-2324 or go to

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