The brave new universe of Internet technology allows a global-wide audience to gaze at, and listen to accomplished young pianists vying for top prizes. With a mouse click, the latest competitive milieu in Florida minus swaying palm trees and ocean breezes, is beamed at high frequency into our living rooms. A feast of Chopin’s music reverberates though iMacs, iPads, cell phones, and PCs of infinite varieties.
It’s the Ninth National Chopin Piano Competition!
Nine foot grands move onto a stage shared with a full size orchestra for the weekend concerto phase wrap-up. Each pianist has been given three instruments to choose from, offering a landscape of playing possibilities: from a pronounced angular/bright sound dimension (Fazioli) to what transmits as a more balanced voicing in Steinway and Yamaha pianos. Still it’s all quite subjective, and one can argue about tone, touch, phrasing as each surviving entrant puts a unique musical signature on the Chopin E Minor or F minor Concertos. (The E minor has triumphed in popularity thus far, and will be a program exclusive, today Sunday starting at 3 p.m. Eastern time)
A $75,000 first prize awaits the WINNER, I dare say, in what perhaps can’t always be MEASURED in the artistic/interpretive arena. Yet, the competition ethos is alive and well, bolstered by Internet exposure and a niche audience of piano enthusiasts. (Bedazzling virtuoso technique is a given)
Eric Lu (Curtis Institute) opened Saturday’s program with a Fazioli delivered performance of Chopin’s E minor, while Josh Wright, the sole Utah resident, amidst bi-coastal colleagues settled into a Steinway. Eric Zuber, a Peabody student in Baltimore was perched at a Yamaha. (the age range of finalists is 19 to 30)
Today, Alex Beyer, George Li, and Rachel Naomi Kudo will cap the competition before prizes are rolled out, including specific honors for Mazurka and Ballade playing.
(Top tier “winners” will also have guaranteed entrance into the INTERNATIONAL Chopin Competition in Poland)
Watch and listen to George Li who’s on today’s roster. (He’s my personal favorite.)
Expect a riveting musical finale!
1) Eric Lu
2) Rachel Naomi Kudo
3) George Li
4) Eric Zuber
5) Joshua Wright
6) Alexander Beyer