Bienen School cello student Brannon Cho has received sixth prize in the Queen Elisabeth Cello Competition, an award of 8000 euros. 

Sihao He also received a prize of 4000 euros as an unranked laureate.

Cho and He were among the 12 finalists who advanced in the Queen Elisabeth Cello Competition. The find round of competition was held May 29 to June 3 at the Brussels Centre for Fine Arts in Belgium.

Cho and He, both students of Bienen cello professor Hans Jensen, were among the 70 candidates invited to perform in the inaugural cello competition from a pool of more than 200 applicants. After successful first round recitals, Cho and He advanced to the next stage of the competition among 24 semi-finalists. In addition to a second solo recital, the semi-final round included a concerto performance with the Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia. The jury then named 12 finalists.

A native of New Jersey, Brannon Cho was the only American invited to the semi-finals of competition and the only American who competed in the finals. Cho performed Shostakovich’s Concerto n. 1 in E flat major op. 107, on Monday, May 29.

Sihao He, a native of Shanghai, also performed on May 29. He presented Schumann’s Concerto in A minor op. 129.

Established in 1937, the Queen Elisabeth Competition is considered one of the most challenging and prestigious competitions for musicians. The organization sponsors piano, violin, composition, voice and cello competitions, and aims to help talented young musicians launch their international careers. This is the first year of the cello competition. 

Competition Videos

Brannon Cho

Brannon Cho, from Short Hills, New Jersey, is a senior cello performance student of Hans Jørgen Jensen. In 2016, he was selected as a fellow for the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival and also received a Luminarts Fellowship in Classical Music. Cho has won second prize at the Naumburg International Competition, first prize at the Minnesota Orchestra’s WAMSO competition, third prize at the Gaspar Cassado International Violoncello Competition, first prize at the Johansen International Cello Competition, second prize at the Stulberg International Competition and the National YoungArts Foundation and the grand prize at the ASTA National Solo Competition. He was the highest-ranked American cellist in the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition. Cho was selected by the National YoungArts Foundation to be featured in an episode of HBO’s “Joshua Bell: A YoungArts Masterclass.” An avid chamber musician, Cho has performed with Christian Tetzlaff, Gidon Kremer, Joshua Bell, Philip Setzer, Stephen Williamson and Barbara Westphal, among others.

Sihao He

Sihao He, from Shanghai, China, is a first-year master’s student of Hans Jørgen Jensen. As a soloist, He is a winner of many renowned competitions, placing first at the International Antonio Janigro Cello Competition in Croatia in 2006. In 2008, he won first prize at the National Cello Competition for Young Cellists in China, and in 2009, he won fourth prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in South Korea. In 2013, he won the grand prize and first place at the ASTA National Solo Competition in New York City and took the grand prize in the Gaspar Cassado International Violoncello Competition. He has played master classes for Yo-Yo Ma, Laurence Lesser, Gary Hoffman, Frans Helmerson, Myung-Wha Chung, Jian Wang, Andrés Díaz, Enrico Dindo, Richard Aaron, Robert deMaine, Desmond Hoebig, Liwei Qin, Haiyan Ni, the Alban Berg Quartet, Hatto Beyerle, the Tokyo Quartet and Peter Oundjian. He has performed in chamber groups with Joseph Silverstein, Pinchas Zuckerman, Donald Weilerstein, Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, Hsin-Yun Huang and Robert McDuffie. He graduated from the McDuffie Center for Strings, where he studied with Hans Jørgen Jensen and Julie Albers.


  • Hans Jensen
  • Brannon Cho
  • strings