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The ninth Bösendorfer and Yamaha USASU International Piano Competition was held Jan. 13–20 at the Arizona State University School of Music. Dmytro Choni, Catherine Huang and Ruisi Lao took first place in their respective categories.
Recognized as being among the top piano competitions in the world, it attracted a total of 280 pianists from 35 different countries with 43 selected to perform in the semifinal and final rounds. Prizes included more than $50,000 in cash awards and recital performance opportunities for the top winners.
The first prize in the Bösendorfer competition for pianists ranging in age from 19 to 32 was awarded to Dmytro Choni, 25, from Ukraine. He received the gold medal and the $15,000 David Katzin Award. He will be featured in a number of concerto performances with the Phoenix Symphony and will perform a recital in Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Music Center in New York as well as a recital for the Oracle Piano Society in Arizona. He began piano lessons at the age of 4 and is currently studying with Professor Milana Chernyavska at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria.
Hyo-Eun Park, 23, from the Republic of Korea took second place in the Bösendorfer competition and received the silver medal and the $10,000 Phyllis Chiat Award, named for a longtime arts advocate who loved classical music and the piano. Park started playing the piano at the age of 5 and is currently studying with Hie-Yon Choi at Seoul National University.
The third prize in the Bösendorfer competition went to Hungarian-American pianist Peter Klimo, 28, who received $5,000 and the bronze medal. Studying piano since the age of 9, Klimo is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music with Alan Chow.
In the Yamaha Senior Competition for pianists ages 16 through 18, Catherine Huang,16, from the United States received the Burns-Addona Award of $5,000 and the gold medal. In February 2018, she made her orchestral debut with the El Camino Youth Symphony. She studies with Professor Hans Boepple.
Second prize was awarded to Yongqiu Liu, 18, from the People’s Republic of China, who received $2,000 and the silver medal. She began her piano studies at the age of 4 and is currently an undergraduate piano student at the New England Conservatory of Music under Wha Kyung Byun.
The bronze medal and a $1,000 prize went to Yangrui Cai, 18, from the People’s Republic of China. He began his piano studies at the age of 4, has been a student of Professor Jay Sun and Vivian Li and currently attends the Xinghai Conservatory Middle School.
Pianists ages 13 through 15 comprised the Yamaha Junior Competition. Ruisi Lao, 13, from the People’s Republic of China, took home the $4,000 Addona-Burns Award and gold medal. Lao also won the Menahem Zohar Memorial Award of $250 for the most outstanding performance of a classical work and the Yehuda Meir memorial award of $250 for the most artistic performance of an etude by Chopin. He studies under professor Tang Zhe at the middle school affiliated with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
Kevin Cho, 15, from the United States, earned the silver medal and a $2,000 prize. He began his piano study when he was 4 years old and has been under the tutelage of Rufus Choi since 2013.
Katherine E. Liu, 14, from the United States, received the bronze medal and the $1,000 Linda and Sherman Saperstein Award. She started her musical journey at the age of 3 with her mother, Fumei Huang, a music educator, and currently studies with HaeSan Paik of the New England Conservatory.
Additional special award recipients from the competition were also announced. The Yehuda Meir memorial award of $250 for the most artistic performance of an etude by Chopin went to Polina Kulikova from Russia in the Bösendorfer competition.
The Sarra and Emmanuil Senderov Award of $500 for the most outstanding performance of a composition by a Russian composer went to Anastasia Rizikov from Canada in the Bösendorfer competition and Catherine Huang from the United States in the Yamaha competition.
Aushuang Li from the People’s Republic of China won the Sangyoung Kim Award of $1,000 for the most outstanding performance of a virtuoso work in the Bösendorfer competition. Li also received a $1,000 award for the most outstanding Arizona pianist, sponsored by National Society of Arts and Letters Arizona Chapter.
Xinran Wang from the People’s Republic of China won a special award of $1,000 for the best performance of a work by a French composer in the Bösendorfer competition.
There was a tie between Anastasia Rizikov from Canada, and Angie Zhang from the United States in the new $1,500 Mary Jane Trunzo Audience Favorite Award. The two winners were selected by the audience during the semifinal round.
This year’s jury included Sofya Gulyak, a Leeds International Piano Competition gold medalist; Faina Lushtak, Steinway Artist and professor of music and piano performance at Tulane University; Asaf Zohar, Tel Aviv University professor, Israeli pianist and pedagogue; Zhe Tang, vice dean and piano professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music; Robert Hamilton, internationally renowned pianist, recording artist and ASU professor; and Baruch Meir, ASU associate professor of piano and Bösendorfer Concert Artist.
“Our competition has become one of the leading piano competitions in the world today, alongside the Van Cliburn, Leeds and Arthur Rubinstein competitions,” said Meir, who is also the founder, president and artistic director of the competition. “Many of our competition winners have gone on to develop major musical careers. We are proud to assist these young pianists in achieving their dreams while focusing the musical world’s attention on Arizona. Our selected competitors come from some of the worlds’ leading music institutions, including Juilliard, Yale, Shanghai Conservatory and the Royal College of Music, as well as ASU.”
This biennial competition is considered one of the best in the world and welcomes the public to experience great performances by these talented young artists. The weeklong event is held at the ASU School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in collaboration with the Phoenix Symphony and the Arizona Young Artist Committee.
Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music, and Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, congratulated all the winners and commended each participant in this year’s competition. “We are pleased to host an international competition of the caliber of the Bösendorfer and Yamaha USasu International Piano Competition at the ASU School of Music,” Landes said. “The competition serves as a springboard for the development of the next generation of young artists and provides us with a reminder of the transformative power of music.”
The opening gala for the competition was held on Jan. 13 in ASU’s Katzin Hall, and featured guest pianist and jury member Sofya Gulyak, who won first prize and the Princess Mary Gold Medal at the 16th Leeds International Piano Competition in England.
All of the solo performances of the Bösendorfer Competition were held at Katzin Hall on Jan. 14, 15 and 17. The final round was held at the Mesa Center for the Arts in the Ikeda Theater on Jan. 20, with finalists showcased playing a concerto with the Phoenix Symphony, under conductor Matthew Kasper. The announcement of the winners and the presentation of medals and Bösendorfer awards took place immediately following the performance.
The semifinal and final rounds for the Yamaha Senior and Junior competition took place Jan. 16 and 18 and the winners’ recital and awards ceremony took place at Jan. 19 in Katzin Hall.
The winners were presented with medals individually handcrafted and designed by OT Jewelers of Mesa, Arizona, another generous sponsor.
Reprinted with permissions by Yamaha Corporation, Giles Communications and the ASU School of Music.