Young pianists stroke keys in weeklong competition

By - Jun 4th, 2010 10:26 am
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Photo by Seriousbri via Flickr

Fingers will fly, pedals will pump and melodies will resound for the next six days in Milwaukee, as PianoArts holds its ninth Biennial North American Piano Competition.

Since its inception in 1999, PianoArts has held its national competition in Milwaukee, attracting highly talented young pianists aged 15 to 20 from across the country. This year’s 12 semifinalists will play with MSO musicians and perform for three world-class judges (José Feghali, Joel Harrison and Robert McDonald) while they compete for more than $20,000 in scholarships, prizes and performance opportunities.

The 2010 competition also broadens its reach by adding a music festival to the line-up.

Elizabeth Joy Roe, PianoArts’ first competition winner

“Never before have we been so involved in the community,” says Sue Medford, PianoArts founder and manager. The festival features recitals by José Feghali and 2008 winner Sejoon Park and offers classes, workshops and discussion panels to non-competing participants and members of the community.

A master class for non-competition pianists at The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music this Sunday includes commentary by PianoArts International Jury members. Panel discussions on “Careers in Music” and “Working with Managers and Presenters,” featuring 16 professional musicians and 11 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra members, is another festival highlight.

“Each will give them a different idea and perspective of working in the business,” Medford says.

Medford is excited about adding the music festival to the mix this year and delighted to see how much PianoArts has grown since its creation.

“We can never be satisfied to stay where we are…we change as the world changes,” Medford says. She adds that it’s exciting to know that PianoArts is helping to contribute to Milwaukee’s reputation as a cultural city.

“This week, I’ve had newspapers from around the country calling me to ask me about this year’s competition,” she says. “Every person that has been in this competition has gone back home and talked about Milwaukee.”

PianoArts’ philosophy emphasizes the importance of staying in touch with present day audiences and future professionals. Continued support is given to competition winners long after the contest is over. The organization stays involved with the young musicians by giving them contacts and helping them network to find opportunities to perform, teach master classes or present talks about music.

In turn, many of the competition’s winners continue to give back to the organization after they have grown their careers. One shining example of this is Elizabeth Joy Roe, winner of PianoArts’ first competition. She has earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard under full scholarship and has become a world-renowned pianist since winning the event. In addition to serving on the PianoArts Advisory Board, Roe has returned twice as a featured performer and clinician at national competitions.

The PianoArts North American Competition runs through June 9. Highlights include a recital today by 2008 winner Sejoon Park, a recital by 2010 judge José Feghali on Tuesday and the final round and awards concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Tickets run $10 to $30, with discounted festival tickets $52 for students and $80 for adults. To purchase tickets and for a complete schedule and program visit the PianoArts website, call the PianoArts ticket line at 414-962-3055 or call the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center box office, 262-781-9520.

Check out more performing arts highlights and happenings in this week’s edition of On Stage with TCD.

Categories: Classical

0 thoughts on “Young pianists stroke keys in weeklong competition”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice work, Joey. Thanks for doing this. — Tom

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Tom!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m so proud of you, Joey! *tear

    You’re published!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Enjoyed Mr. Park’s recital Friay evening, esp. seeing him getting lost in the music-which I have to believe affected his placement of the notes, at times like a soft rain-not knowing where each drop will land, but letting the moment happen. The heavy hitting was there also, sure and determined-when it was called for. The program has me leaning to the Russian composers, love the rich substance of their works. Those Russian guys rock!

  5. Anonymous says:

    thanks for writing this. I was there for the whole day today, the first day of the semis (broken hammer and all, a story in itself) and it was terrific–very high level this year!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to Sue Medford who pursued a dream of so many years ago that has come to wonderful fruition.
    S. Marion Verhaalen

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to Sue Medford who pursued a dream of so many years ago.
    S. Marion Verhaalen

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