Young pianist plays for Orchestra Nova

Nine-year-old pianist Umi Garrett will star in a one-of-a-kind benefit for Orchestra Nova, hosted by conductor Jung-Ho Pak, at 7 p.m. May 21 at the Neurosciences Institute Auditorium, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, La Jolla.

Garrett will play music by Bach, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Chopin and Liszt. She has been described as a “Mozart-like genius” who has to be seen to be believed, according to press materials. Garrett has been taking ballet lessons since age 2 1/2 and learned to play the piano along the way.

She has performed in Europe, New York and Washington, D.C., winning contests against much older contestants for the last two years.

Pianist Hei-ock Kim, one of the three finalists in Orchestra Nova’s recent The Next Star talent competition, will make a special appearance performing “Hungarian Rhapsody, No. 2" by Franz Liszt. Hei-ock is a research assistant with Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she was 9, she entered Juilliard’s pre-college music program as a pianist.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Orchestra Nova. VIP tickets are $125 and include a post-concert reception. Friend tickets are $75. A limited number of youth tickets will be available for $25. Tickets may be purchased online at orchestra or by calling (858) 350-0290.

A video of Garrett’s 2009 appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is available on YouTube or a link from Orchestra Nova’s site at