Arts & Culture

Local Music Students to Perform at Carnegie Hall

A Houston music school is giving students a chance of a lifetime. The International Music Academy is bringing 72 young musicians to Carnegie Hall for a concert this weekend.


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When 15-year-old Magen Zeng won an international piano competition about four years ago, she earned a chance to perform at Carnegie Hall.

"I was really nervous because I thought Carnegie Hall was only for professionals and really famous people, but when I realized that I also had the opportunity to do it ... I just took the opportunity to display my talent," Zeng said.

That experience sparked her to become a more dedicated pianist and to dream bigger. Zeng decided to audition for Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where she is now a student. She ramped up her practice time from 1 – 2 hours a day to 3 – 6 hours day, and she started attending prestigious music camps that further motivated her.

"It really opened my eyes to see where my potential could take me, and it made me realize that I could be something bigger and better."

When her teacher Katarina Loudermilk saw how Carnegie Hall transformed Zeng, she was inspired to create an opportunity for her other music students.

Loudermilk and her husband Matthew, both pianists, run the International Music Academy, and she decided to submit recordings and a request for their school to play at Carnegie Hall.

"They selected us and invited us, and gave us two dates, which is a big honor."

This weekend, the International Music Academy is bringing eight faculty members and 72 students, ranging from ages 5 to 17, to perform in the legendary hall.

"Both concerts are sold out. There are 300 people flying from all over the country to see that concert, all the grandparents and parents ... which is pretty cool," said Loudermilk.

The Carnegie Hall trip is a dream come true not only for these musicians but also for the Loudermilks, who want to inspire young Houstonians to become the next generation of top-level classical players.

In addition to the music school, the Loudermilks run the non-profit IMA Virtuosi, which has raised funds to cover the Carnegie Hall expenses and is sponsoring four students on the trip.

"The goal of our organization is to seek out the talent and help it develop."

They hope that the impact of such a major stage performance will be that young musicians believe in themselves more and receive the public recognition they deserve.

In this way, Katarina Loudermilk hopes that such programs and opportunities can help instill a cultural shift in prioritizing music and arts in education, which she believes is needed.

"I want the people around us to understand what it takes, what it means, and to give support and proper recognition to these musicians. And I think that's what is missing in our society."

IMA’s Carnegie Hall faculty recital is on Friday, October 5, and the student recital is on Saturday, October 6.

Listen to the complete interview with Katarina Loudermilk, Matthew Loudermilk, and Magen Zeng below:


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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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