Julliard beckons for 12 year old Dio Cellist


Julliard beckons for 12 year old Dio Cellist

One of the world’s top music schools, Julliard, has come calling for young New Zealand cellist, 12-year old Emily Ai. She will be one of the youngest cellists at the famous New York school when she starts there in September. 

With offers from three of the top music schools in America (Colburn, New England Conservatory and Julliard), Emily says the reputation of Julliard’s world-renowned String Quartet helped make her decision.

The talented Diocesan School for Girls Year 8 student was one of just a few chosen out of more than 1,000 applicants to attend Julliard, and one of only 100 invited to NYC for a live audition.  

The offer, which comes with a scholarship, is the latest in a long list of impressive achievements for the young star. In just the last two years, she has won first prize in the International Salzburg Music Competition in Austria and was also second in the chamber music section. As a result of her win, she was selected to perform at the Wiener Saal, Mozarteum in Salzburg in July last year. 

She was also one of only 46 young musicians selected from around the world to compete in the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians, a worldwide ten-day competition with an audience of over 7,000 and the largest professional contest among young talents (up to 17 years old) in the world.

And while performing a solo at Carnegie Hall in New York would be daunting for even the most seasoned of musicians, for Emily Ai it’s just one of her many accomplishments. The talented youngster performed live on one of the world’s most famous stages, not just once, but twice in 2016. 

Emily, who currently attends Diocesan School in Auckland, started learning the cello six years ago and says ‘the cello is a beautiful instrument and allows you to express your feelings’. Her favourite composers are Tchaikovsky and Haydn, and she looks up to cellists such as Yoyo Ma (also a Julliard alumni) and Jacqueline Mary du Pré. 

She also plays the piano and practices around 3 hours every day, and much more when she’s preparing for a competition. In fact, says her mother, ‘She plays music whenever she gets the chance.’ 

‘It’s incredible to watch her on stage. To see how focused she is, how much she enjoys it. We are just so proud of her.’ 

She says Emily plays for the love of music and they’ve never had to push her. Her family will be moving to New York with Emily to support her for the next four years as she chases her dreams, to not just be a great cellist but also a doctor.  

Emily will continue her academic education as one of 200 students at the Professional Children’s School in NYC which provides for young people pursuing a career in the arts and other areas. She says she will miss the friends, teachers and big school events at Diocesan, such as House Music, but is looking forward to her time in NYC. 

Diocesan Director of Performing Arts, Shelagh Thomson says, ‘We have been incredibly lucky to have talent of this level at Diocesan. We are very proud of Emily’s incredible international achievements and we wish her well at Julliard. We know this is not the last we will hear of Emily and her accomplishments.’

Back to News & Successes