Sage Hill Student Aja Zou Named Among Top Four Young Pianists in U.S.

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Sage Hill student Aja Zou

Aja Zou, an 11th grade student at Sage Hill School in Newport Beach, has been named a 2023 YoungArts Finalist in Classical Music.

Zou has been recognized for the caliber of her artistic achievement, joining an accomplished group of only four young pianists to receive the organization’s highest honor this year.

Selected through the organization’s prestigious competition, YoungArts award winners, all 15 to 18 years old or in grades 10 to 12, are chosen for the caliber of their artistic achievement by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous, blind adjudication process.

These YoungArts award winners join a distinguished community of artists and are offered creative and professional development support throughout their careers. A complete list of the 2023 winners is available online at

“Every year we are inspired anew by the talent, dedication and creativity of extraordinary early career artists,” YoungArts Artistic Director Lauren Snelling said. “YoungArts is proud to support artists at critical junctures throughout their lives, and we look forward to providing community and professional and creative development opportunities that will empower the 2023 award winners as they embark on exciting careers in the arts. Now more than ever, it is essential to support artists so that their voices can be heard long into the future.”

Zou will participate in National YoungArts Week in January 2023. Award winners will have the chance to learn from notable artists such as architect Germane Barnes, author Richard Blanco, actor and playwright Taylor Mac, jazz alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, costume designer Machine Dazzle and actor BD Wong.

Zou was very surprised to learn from the judges that her techniques were among the top in the nation.

“It was truly a pleasure and honor to be selected by YoungArts because it’s such an amazing organization that will connect me with the artist community and offer me opportunities to continue my success with music,” Aja said.

For the duration of her career, Zou is eligible for exclusive creative and professional development support including a wide range of fellowships, residencies and awards; microgrants and financial awards; and virtual and in-person presentation opportunities in collaboration with major venues and cultural partners nationwide.


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