NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A freshman at St. John's Prep in Astoria just beat out hundreds of musicians from around the globe to take the grand prize at the Philadelphia International Music Festival.
CBS2's Vanessa Murdock met up with piano prodigy Xuanxiang Wu to learn more about him and his music.
Xuanxiang, known as Sean, is 14 years old and has played the piano since the age of 5. Listening to him play transports you.
"Piano is a magical instrument that can express my feelings through the note," he said. "The audience can also feel what I feel."
Sean moved from China to Astoria in September to continue his musical education at Juilliard's Pre-College program. On Saturdays, he spends the day there.
"You love it?" Murdock asked.
"Yeah," Sean said.
His piano teacher June Xiao stood by him during the entire journey. She helped him perfect his audition, picked him up from the airport and acted as his temporary guardian until his mom arrived months later.
"When I heard him, I was extremely impressed," Xiao said.
Practice makes perfect.
Sean puts in four hours a day during the week and more on weekends, but he still has time to draw, watch TV and, like many teenagers, play video games.
And of course, there's high school. Sean attends St. John's Prep. His music appreciation teacher, Simona Rodano, first heard him play a few weeks into the school year.
"I couldn't say anything," she said.
In fact, she declares him a prodigy.
"He is," Rodano said.
"It seems to me it's so natural for him," Xiao said.
When asked if he considers himself a prodigy, Sean says, "I'm not sure."
Sean performed for his fellow students at last year's Christmas concert.
"You could hear the crowd, which had been very festive, slow down, quiet themselves and lean to really listen," St. John's Prep President Maria Johnson said.
Johnson says a standing ovation followed.
"Coming from a different country, not mastering the language as of yet, it keeps you apart, but the music brings them together," she said.
His talent transfixed even the most critical audience – one of his peers.
Sean hopes to attend Juilliard full-time after high school and go on to perform and teach.
The grand prize in the concerto competition includes a full scholarship to the Philadelphia International Music's summer program.
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