A pianist from Burnaby is a rising star on Canada's classical music scene.
Christopher Kusuhara was a finalist in the recent Stepping Stone 2012 competition, a national contest open to top young classical performers.
It's a contest that has launched the careers of renowned Canadian classical musicians including pianists Louis Lortie and Marc-André Hamelin, flutist Susan Hoeppner and Annalee Patipatanakoon of the Gryphon Trio.
Kusuhara earned $1,000 for emerging as a finalist after four rounds of competition in Ottawa - the initial audition process, which narrowed the field to 30, followed by an elimination round, a semifinal round and the finals.
The competition was won by recorder player Vincent Lauzer of Montreal, with pianist Michelle Yelin Nam of Edmonton in second and soprano Florie Valiquette of Montreal in third.
Pianist Steven Massicotte of Montreal and violinist Alexander Read of Montreal were also finalists.
It's not the first prestigious award for Kusuhara, who is now living in Montreal and studying on scholarship at McGill University.
He represented B.C. at the National Music Festival in Montreal in 2010. Most recently, he placed first in the senior category at the Vancouver Women's Musical Society's piano competition.
Previously, he has won many prizes at local festivals including the Vancouver Kiwanis Festival, Coquitlam District Music Festival and the Kiwanis Fraser Valley Festival.
In 2006, he received the Royal Conservatory of Music Award for the highest mark in his Grade 10 piano examinations, and, from 2007 to 2011, he represented local festivals at the Performing Arts B.C. festival.
In 2009 he won the Burnaby Clef Concerto Competition and performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
For more on the Stepping Stone competition, see the website at www.cmcnational.com.