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NPR member stations are uniquely tapped into local music scenes around the country. DJs share up-and-coming bands and artists with listeners by playing their music on the radio, interviewing them on-air and writing articles and blog posts.But most of that content rarely traveled outside of the station's city, and an NPR listener in Philadelphia might not know what new music a Chicago-based DJ has just discovered.Until now.In the fall of 2017, NPR Music and VuHaus' public radio network kicked off Slingshot, a collective effort among taste-making music stations to elevate exceptional emerging artists.To see the full roster of Slingshot artists, including classical and jazz, visit NPR's Slingshot page.

NPR's Slingshot: George Li

Pianist George Li
Simon Fowler
George Li

With a 1000-watt smile and warm-hearted performances, the 22-year-old pianist is proof that classical music can drop the pretense and kick some butt.

The young American pianistGeorge Li has a winning smile that can light up a room — or better yet, a concert hall, like the famed Mariinsky in St. Petersburg, Russia, where his debut recital album was recorded. Little George was only 10 years old when he made his public debut. These days, the 22-year-old Massachusetts native's career continues to blossom since capturing the silver medal at the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition. He remembers it as being "like the musical Olympics."

Li has a busy performance schedule, but there's still time for college and sports. He takes literature courses at Harvard while studying piano privately and, living in Boston, he's a huge Red Sox fan. At the keyboard, his Haydn sparkles, his Chopin is passionate and he plays blockbusters, like Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2," with the heart-on-sleeve swagger of the old-school masters like Vladimir Horowitz.

See more of NPR's Slingshot artists

Follow George Li on Facebook

-Tom Huizenga, NPR Music

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.