Honens Piano Competition opens

Pianists of all nationalities are invited to apply now to the eighth Honens International Piano Competition, which launched an open call for contestants last week.

The Calgary-based competition takes place every three years as part of the annual Honens Festival – Canada’s biggest dedicated piano festival – and aims to discover what organisers refer to as ‘an emerging complete artist; a 21st century pianist for 21st century audiences’.

The overall winner is crowned the contest Laureate, scooping CAD100,000 (€70,625) and an intensive programme of artistic and career development.

Applications land with an initial screening jury, made up of four members including Honens’ president and artistic director, Stephen McHolm.

This panel will whittle the field down to 50 acts based on references, experience relative to age, and proposed competition programme.

The quarterfinal then sees a new panel of four members spend a week at The Banff Centre, reviewing 50 sets of videotaped applicant recitals and interviews captured either in Berlin, London or New York.

Duet and trio recitals with violin and clarinet form part of the semifinal, with full orchestra performances required in the final.

Progress in these latter stages is decided on by another new jury of seven experts, including renowned pianists Ingrid Fliter, Janina Fialkowska and Alexandre Tharaud for 2015.

McHolm said: ‘Enhancements made to the 2012 competition – which included changes to pianist eligibility, competition length, jury composition, repertory and interview requirements, and the naming of a sole Laureate – were a response to the changing role of today’s music competitions.

‘Not only did these changes create the desired festival atmosphere rather than one of a knock-‘em-down blood sport event, they set the stage for three years of meaningful artistic and career development for Honens Prize Laureate Pavel Kolesnikov (pictured).’

2015 will mark the first time the number of finalists is reduced from five to three, in order to allow time for two performances each – one classical, one post-classical – with the Calgary Philharmonic orchestra.

‘Honens believes that a complete artist explores both the pivotal works of piano literature and the music of our time,’ McHolm explained. ‘Candidates are therefore encouraged to include works composed during the past 50 years in their recital programme.’

The competition is open to any pianist who will be between 20–30 years old on 3 September 2015, excluding past Honens Laureates and professionally managed musicians. Applications close on 2 February, 2015.

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