Our Islands, Our Future

Maui piano students Henley Anthony, 7, and Ailis Nguyen, 10, took first place in Levels I and II, respectively, at the Hawaii Music Teachers Association’s 2023 Hawaii State Music Competition. They both competed with approximately 16 students in each category. The girls are students of Ruth Murata-Eisen at the Maui Music Conservatory located in the Queen Ka’ahumanu Mall in Kahului. Serving the Maui community for over 30 years, the teachers at the Conservatory are well qualified to help students of all ages and experience advance to higher levels of performance.

Murata-Eisen, elated by the victory, said, “We have been diligently competing in this competition and coming in second or third place in the past years. There is no greater reward than getting that top spot when you have been trying so hard to beat the top players in the State. Winning a competition requires that the students play at their very best under extreme pressure. Both Nguyen and Anthony are to be commended for their drive to succeed and win. Although winning is not everything, it sure beats losing! I have won many competitions with students in the past, but this win was extra special with two incredible students! The girls will continue on, learning new pieces and hoping for the next victory.” 

“All the contestants were wonderful,” Nguyen said. “It was a heart-beating moment to wait for the results. I was happily surprised to be selected and the additional Mozart award was the icing on my cupcake! I would like to inspire other children to learn about the beauty and eloquence of classical music—maybe even teach one day when I am older. Music brings me such peace and joy. I want to continue to share it, and hopefully bring more prizes to Maui.”

Anthony added, “I was so excited to win the competition! I started playing piano at age three and fell in love with it. I want to be a professional piano player and keep competing. You have to play from memory to compete, so it’s a real challenge. I have to practice a lot!”

Maui Economic Development Board wishes Ailis and Henley the best of luck as they continue to pursue their dreams and inspire others to achieve theirs. Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President & CEO