Evan Xue played at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March and won a grand prize. (2013 MUSIC-FEST Rising Talents Festival)

Many pianists spend their whole lives hoping to play the Kennedy Center stage in Washington. For Evan Xue (sounds like “shoo”) and Samuel Huie (sounds like “hue-ee”), it took a lot less time.

The two young performers are finalists in an international (that means the whole world is involved) competition called the World Pianist Invitational; they will compete in the final round Saturday at the Kennedy Center.

Hours of practice

“I like to play the piano,” said Evan, who is 7 years old. “I just think I’m kind of good at it.” He told his mom he wanted to play after he took a group music class a couple of years ago. Now his friends call him “Lang Lang Jr.,” comparing him to Lang Lang, a famous pianist from China.

“The piano sounds good,” Evan said. “I just feel; I like it.” Evan, who goes to Lois P. Rockwell Elementary School in Damascus, practices two hours a day.

Samuel’s mom started teaching him piano when he was 5 years old. Now, at age 11, he takes lessons from the same teacher whom Evan studies with and practices one to three hours a day. It takes him only a couple weeks to learn and memorize a difficult piano piece.

“I like to play the piano, to give God the glory and to have fun,” said Samuel, who goes to Lakewood Elementary School in Rockville.

Competitive stretch

To enter the competition, Evan and Samuel, along with dozens of other kids from around the world, each submitted a video of themselves playing a classical piano piece. On Saturday, Evan and Samuel will compete against four other kids their age. The concert will include 24 pianists, ages 6 to 29, playing one song each from memory.

Evan will play “Flood Time” by Eric Thiman, and Samuel will play Aaron Copland’s “The Cat and the Mouse.”

“I like to play ‘Flood Time’ because you use a lot of energy and passion, and the music is exciting,” Evan said. “Sometimes it’s loud; sometimes it’s soft.”

Neither Evan nor Samuel is new to competitions. Samuel won first place in a Maryland state competition this year, and Evan won a competition at Carnegie Hall, a famous stage in New York City, in March.

Kids like you

Both kids said they get a little nervous when they perform, but not too much. And both boys said they think about being professional musicians when they grow up. But that’s not the only career they’re considering; Samuel ponders being an engineer like his dad, and Evan might want to be a scientist.

The boys can play complicated musical pieces with hundreds of notes and chords in them, pieces that would be difficult for most adults. But despite their amazing talents, they are kids, just like you. Evan likes to swim, and Samuel likes to play video games, especially “Super Mario Bros.

“I’m excited,” Evan said about Saturday’s upcoming performance. “I like to show off.”

Moira E. McLaughlin

Check out these young pianists for yourself

What: 2013 World Pianist Invitational

Where: The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street NW

When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The concert will last 21 / 2 hours, with the youngest pianists performing first.

How much? $35. For tickets, parents can
go to www.kennedy-center.org or call