Voorhees student places gold at international piano competition, takes the stage at Carnegie Hall

From classical to rock and roll, Evan Reichenberg has had music within him since he was a baby

Evan Reichenberg, 10, poses for a photo with the piano he practices on almost every day at home.

Evan Reichenberg, 10, enjoys classical music, but in the morning while eating breakfast, he prefers rock and roll.

When Evan turned 1, his parents Steve and Hae Youn Reichenberg purchased a piano. Nine years later, the E.T. Hamilton School student recently earned gold at the international Golden Key Piano Composition Competition, an achievement awarded with the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City among other winners from around the world.

Hae Youn said growing up in Korea, many of her friends were taking piano lessons, but she never had the chance. With a love for classical music and a dream of playing the piano, Hae Youn said she wanted share the appreciation with her children.

“She said to me, ‘Honey, we have to buy a piano,” Steve said. “I thought she was joking; I was thinking a little toy piano. I lost that argument.”

Evan began taking piano lessons when he was 5, while his brother Aaron, 8, began when he was 3. In more recent years, Evan has won gold for two regional technique competitions, received honors and high honors at state competitions alongside Aaron, performed at Rowan University fall festivals and has collected numerous certificates and medals for his musical talent.

Evan Reichenberg, 10, and his brother Aaron, 8, are pictured playing a song they wrote together on the piano at their home.

“When Aaron and Evan were babies, I always listened to classical music,” Hae Youn said. “Now that they are in a serious stage of the piano, they listen to the music and they are familiar with it. They say, ‘Oh, what is that, I love this music,’ and I tell them, ‘this is what you used to listen to all the time.’”

According to Evan, his favorite music to play on the piano is by Sergei Rachmaninoff, a Russian composer known for two of Evan’s favorite songs — “Prelude” and “Moments Musicaux.”

“I like playing piano because there are a lot of good pieces I want to learn to play,” Evan said. “The hardest part is learning songs. When you play really fast songs, it can really tire your fingers out and sometimes you can’t even finish a song.”

Evan performed “March” by Sergei Prokofiev at the Golden Key Music Festival, a song he chose out of a number of options given by his teacher, which he practiced months before.

“I chose that one because it’s awesome,” Evan said. “It’s not so sad; I wanted a happy piece.”

According to Steve, the competition, held in Princeton, hosted close to 1,000 performers, broken into age groups from 5 years old to 19 and older. Evan competed against approximately 120 kids in his age bracket of 10 and 11 year olds.

The Golden Music Festival Website, www.goldenkeyfestival.com, said the competition’s mission is to “give young musicians the opportunity to display their talents on some of the most prestigious concert stages in the United States, to open for them the door into the magical world of art.”

Based on the artists’ auditions, those awarded gold and silver had the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall throughout May and June, while super bronze winners were able to showcase their talent at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, and bronze achievement winners performed at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater in New York City.

Evan Reichenberg, 10, began playing piano when he was one year old. Reichenberg recently placed gold at an international competition, earning a chance to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Evan said he was one of 39 performers to take the Carnegie Hall stage, an honor he was proud to have due to the fame of the location.

“When we put Evan into his first competition, we just wanted to see what would happen, no expectations of higher or lower,” Steve said of the then-8 year old. “When we found out he won, we said, ‘wow, really?’ It’s fun to watch them grow with the music. They are both so impressive; it blows my mind how well they do.”

Hae Youn said with the growth of technology and electronic gadgets, she wanted to have her sons involved with music at an early age to provide a hobby, and possibly a passion, they could grow with.

“Kids nowadays, they have their electronics and I don’t want my kids losing their good sensations,” Hae Youn said. “Classical music is giving them much, much more than we think. I hope my kids grow to really love music; I hope they can rely on music when they need to.”