Hannah Sun of Flushing and Matthew Richards of Rosedale will perform with other YoungARTS award winners at the Zeigfield Theater in Manhattan April 24. YoungARTS is a program established by Carnival Cruise Lines creator Ted Arison and his wife Lin to ensure the future of American arts by identifying uniquely gifted young artists and assisting them financially and educationally. Of the 141 teens selected for YoungARTS Week, a sort of camp for painters, dancers, musicians, writers and singers in which they can perform or display their work under the guidance of prominent artists in their fields, there were six gold and 25 silver award winners. Awards ranged from gold to level 4, with prizes ranging from $10,000 to $500.Besides Sun and Richards, three other borough teens won level 1 awards: Nathaniel Taylor-Leach of Oakland Gardens for theater, Namhum Lee of Oakland Gardens for visual arts and Nuo Yuan of Bayside for visual arts. Each received a $3,000 award.Richards said, "I grew up watching my parents clown around, which sparked my interest in acting." He cites as influences Harry Houdini, his Uncle Raymond, Bill Cosby, Denzel Washington and P.T. Barnum. He is a senior at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and plans to enroll at Juilliard in the fall.Sun was born in Guangzhou, China to concert pianist Qi Melody He and at age 3 was invited to play in the televised Guangzhou Children's Piano Recital, the first of many such appearances and competitions in Asia, Australia and the United States. "While she was pregnant, my mother would listen to classical masterpieces, believing I would somehow hear or feel it. She introduced me to the piano and eventually could not tear me away from it," Sun said. "[My mother] let me choose what I wanted to pursue in life as long as I worked hard to excel in that field, so in 2002, in choosing to dedicate my life to music," she and her family moved from Australia to New York City, where she became a student of the late pianist Constance Keene.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at news@times
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