Take it from me, sports fans: the Olympics have nothing on the finalists in the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition. After four straight days of preliminary rounds, the field of 20 contestants has been narrowed to five finalists. Rehearsals for the final round began in earnest today with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (Neil Varon, conductor). From where I sat this afternoon at Kodak Hall, Saturday night's final round - open to the public - is going to be a sprint to the gold.
**Click here for City's original feature on the International Piano Competition.**
At stake is more than $500,000 in cash prizes and full-tuition scholarships to the Eastman School of Music. The competitors came in from all over the world, as did the panel of seven judges with blistering international credentials.
The five finalists and their concerto movement selections are: Junhui Chen (China, age 17) performing the Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23, first movement; Leonardo Colafelice (Italy, age 16) performing Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30, first movement; Dong-Won Lee (USA, age 18) taking on Brahms' Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15, first movement; Kate Liu (Singapore/USA, age 16) performing Prokofiev's Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 16, first movement; and Chaeyoung Park (USA, age 15) playing the Prokofiev Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26, first movement.
Would you rather watch a runner on a straightaway or pianists at the keyboard with fingers flying, hands running up and down the keyboard, sometimes in parallel motion, sometimes in opposite motion, the occasional right hand over left, the occasional left hand over right, wrists up, wrists down, and bodies hopping off the piano bench as those "fff" chords are struck with abandon?
You can see all of this for yourself Saturday, August 4, at the final concerto round with the RPO, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.). Tickets cost $20 (discounts to UR or student ID holders). An awards ceremony follows at 10:15 p.m. For more information call 454-2100 or visit www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.