Antonio “Nio” Ajero

Nacogdoches High School senior Antonio “Nio” Ajero has received a 2022 YoungArts award in Classical Piano, the second year in a row that Ajero has been recognized at the Merit level, the organization’s third-highest honor. With the award, Ajero is among 720 of the most accomplished young visual, literary, and performing artists from throughout the United States.

Selected through the organization’s prestigious competition, YoungArts award winners, all 15–18 years old or in grades 10–12, are chosen for their caliber of artistic achievement by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process.

“We’re extremely proud of Nio,” said NHS principal Stephen Autrey. “He’s a wonderful student and representative of NHS, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.”

Ajero studies piano with Dr. Minhae Lee at Stephen F. Austin State University and Linda Parr at SFA’s Music Prep Division. He has won National Gold Medals from The Royal Conservatory for earning the highest marks in the United States for their Level 9, 10, and ARCT Piano Exams. Ajero recently won the Gold Medal for the 2021 Piano Star International Competition sponsored by The Piano League and will represent Texas in the South Central Divisional round of the 2022 MTNA Senior Piano Performance Competition.

As a YoungArts award winner, Ajero joins a distinguished group of accomplished artists such as Daniel Arsham, Terence Blanchard, Camille A. Brown, Timothée Chalamet, Viola Davis, Amanda Gorman, Judith Hill, Jennifer Koh, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Andrew Rannells, Desmond Richardson, and Hunter Schafer.

YoungArts award winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for artists in the United States, in which they will have opportunities for financial, creative, and professional development support throughout their entire careers.

YoungArts award winners become eligible for exclusive creative and professional development support including a wide range of fellowships, residencies, and awards; microgrants and financial awards; virtual and in-person presentation opportunities in collaboration with major venues and cultural partners nationwide; and access to YoungArts Post, a free, private online platform for YoungArts artists to connect, collaborate and discover new opportunities.

The YoungArts competition is open to artists 15-18 years old (or in grades 10-12). YoungArts was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison to identify the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, and performing arts and provide them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers. Entrance into this prestigious organization starts with a highly competitive application process for talented artists ages 15-18, or grades 10-12 in the United States.