Seattle has always been a keyboard town – home to hordes of ivory fans, who are a critical and appreciative audience at the President’s Piano Series, and who head for Benaroya Hall whenever there’s a piano soloist at the Symphony.
Now there’s a new keyboard game in town: The Seattle Symphony’s first-ever International Piano Competition
, going on right now at Benaroya Hall. The recital and semifinal rounds of this competition have just taken place, and at 7 p.m. September 18, the competition’s final round unfolds on the Benaroya mainstage.
The jury is headed by the well-known pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet
(in residence this season at the Seattle Symphony), and it also includes SSO music director Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony principal cellist Efe Baltacıgil, Monica Felkel of Young Concert Artists, Washington Performing Arts director of programming Samantha Pollack, First Chair Promotion project manager James Egelhofer, and Seattle Symphony president and CEO Simon Woods.
Those critical ears will be listening tomorrow night when the final contestants play either a French or an American concerto with the SSO (Morlot will conduct). Each finalist chooses a concerto from the following list: the Barber, the Copland, the Gershwin (in F), the Poulenc, the Ravel (in G), and the Saint-Saëns No. 2.
At stake are cash prizes (the competition’s first-prize winner gets $10,000), a performance by the winner on the Symphony’s opening-night concert on September 19, and several other performance and development opportunities. The first-prize winner also is advanced to the semifinal round of the 2015 or 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York (plus receiving travel and housing expenses).
Audience members tomorrow night also get to choose their favorite pianist, who will take home a $1,000 audience-favorite prize.
What an exciting prospect – the thrill of discovery, not on a hyped-up TV talent show, but right before your eyes and ears in Benaroya Hall. And you can be a part of it by voting for your favorite, too. Visit www.seattlesymphony.com/piano
for details and ticket information.
A keyboard of a slightly earlier vintage will be on display later this month, when the opening concert of “Byron Schenkman and Friends” will launch this chamber series September 27 with virtuoso harpsichord concertos by two famous 18th
-century composers: Haydn and Handel.
Schenkman, who also has performed and recorded on other members of the keyboard family (from the fortepiano to the modern concert grand), will be joined by violinists Ingrid Matthews and Laurel Wells, violist Jason Fisher, and cellist Nathan Whittaker, for this concert. The program is set for 7 p.m. September 27 at the Nordstrom Recital Hall in Benaroya Hall.
Classical KING FM 98.1 fans may have heard Schenkman’s on-air performance of Schumann lieder last April with the soprano Clara Rottsolk. Here’s a link to this lovely video, in case you missed it: http://byronschenkman.com/news/
This series is now in its third season, with four more subsequent programs planned to span a variety of intriguing repertoire – from the notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach to Telemann, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. The ambience is intimate and friendly; the music-making fun to hear and watch as the musicians seem to inspire each other. Well worth a trip downtown (visit www.byronschenkman.com