Aliya Alsafa

Aliya’s interview about piano >> click here to read full article

Aliya Alsafa, 16, is a pianist from Chicago, Illinois. She currently attends the Juilliard Pre-College as a student of Prof. Matti Raekallio. Recently, Aliya was named a Steinway Young Artist. Last summer, through the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, she performed for the Andermatt Swiss Alps Classics Festival. She has also participated in the Gilmore Rising Star Series and the Leeds International Music Festival in the United Kingdom. In 2018, Aliya played in the Holland Music Sessions in Den Hoorn, Netherlands. Aliya attends Special Music High School in Manhattan. Her other interests include dance, composition, computer science, and badminton.

“I am very thankful to have been selected as a Lang Lang Young Scholar! Music is a powerful gift that promotes the exchange of new ideas and perspectives. As a pianist, I hope to put more warmth in the hearts of others through music. The Lang Lang Young Scholars Program allows me to further my dream by introducing this inspiring form of communication throughout the world. I’m so excited to be part of an international music community. Under the mentorship of Lang Lang, as well as friendships with my fellow young scholars, I look forward to making a positive difference through classical music.”


Through  recent years, Aliya has been the recipient of special honors and awards. She won First Prize in numerous piano competitions including the Emilio Del Rosario Concerto Competition, Sejong Music Competition, Chopin Youth Piano Competition, and Walgreens National Concerto Early Music Division. Some of her current recognitions include, “Best Chopin Etude” at the 2017 Seattle International Piano Competition; she won First Prize in state and regional contests and Second Prize nationally in MTNA for composition; and, as MostArts youngest competitor, Aliya played with the festival orchestra at Miller Theater and received the Audience Favorite award.

Aliya has been praised for her artistry and musical sensitivity. She has performed in several prestigious concert venues throughout the country: Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Ravinia Bennett Gordon Hall, Harris Theater, Merkin, and Benaroya Hall. Aliya also played for Orchestra Hall at Chicago’s Symphony Center for the “Keys to the City” festival hosted by Emanuel Ax.

In 2013, Aliya was one of twelve pianists worldwide, selected for the inaugural Allianz Junior Music Camp through the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. She played in a masterclass as well as outreach concerts for schools in Munich, Germany.

At a young age, Aliya discovered her passion for music and began lessons at age four. She currently studies piano performance at the Juilliard Pre-College as a student of Prof. Matti Raekallio. Her other teachers and mentors, current or former, include Ms. Sueanne Metz, pianist and president of 88Keys to Cure (a NFP); Mary Sauer, Principal Pianist of Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Director of New Music School;  as well as Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem, Piano-Duo in residence at Music Institute of Chicago.
Aliya enjoys community service and has previously performed at fundraising events, retirement homes, and school outreach. She is a Davidson Young Scholar since 2010. Aliya was a 2nd place winner in the Northwestern University Midwest Academic Talent Search on the ACT (a competition with 12,000 students grades 3-9.) She currently attends Whitney Young. Among her other interests are dance, drawing, and composition.
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