Pianist Colleen Lee Ka-ling took sixth prize at the 15th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition, one of the best results a Hong Kong pianist has ever achieved. The 25-year-old is the first Hong Kong pianist to have reached the finals of the competition, and is the only Chinese finalist this year. A jury, chaired by renowned Polish pianist Andrzej Jasinski, announced the winners of the competition on October 24. On October 17, after being selected as a finalist, Lee called her piano teacher, Eleanor Wong, who immediately flew to Warsaw to support her. 'Colleen has done very well in the competition. I hope she can fulfil her dream of becoming a world renowned performer,' Ms Wong said. Benedict Cruft, Dean of Music of Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, said that Lee's aim was to touch the audience, not to please the jury with her music. 'She feels that time and maturity have granted her a deeper understanding of Chopin's music and given her a stronger passion to explore the beauty of his compositions,' he added. Patrick Ho, Secretary for Home Affairs, congratulated Lee for winning such an important event. 'This international recognition demonstrates that, as well as having very fine teachers, Hong Kong is fully capable of producing great music talent.' Lee started playing the piano when she was four and was admitted to the Academy Junior Music Programme in 1987 aged seven, under the guidance of Ms Wong. In 1998, Colleen received a Hong Kong Jockey Club Scholarship to enter the Academy's full-time Programme, majoring in piano performance. She received her bachelor's degree in music in 2001 with first class honours, and her professional diploma in 2003. She then went to Germany to s tudy further. Her present teacher is Professor Arie Vardi. The International F Chopin Piano Competition, one of the oldest events of its kind in the world, was initiated by Professor Jerzy Zurawlew. Six top awards and special prizes are awarded at each competition. Previous prize-winning Chinese pianists include Fou Tsong (third prize, 1955), Li Mingqiang (fourth prize, 1960) and Chen Sa (fourth prize, 2000). This year's competition was held from September 23 to October 24, with 257 participants. The Gold Prize winner was Rafal Blechacz from Poland.