Friday, 12 June 2009

Leeds International Piano Competition 2009: Competitors Named

79 young pianists from all around the world have been accepted for the 2009 Leeds International Piano Competition. This year’s field looks to be a very strong one, one that includes a number who took part in the Finals of the recently concluded 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Joint First Prize Winner Haochen Zhang (China, left) is one of them! (What if he does not make the Semi-finals at the very least? – an unlikely but fantastical thought.) He would be wise not to turn up, given the hundreds of concert dates already provided by the Cliburn Foundation.

Here are the Cliburn 09 alumni taking part at Leeds 09:

BOZHANOV, Evgeni (Bulgaria) – Finalist
DANK, Ran (Israel) – Semi-finalist
KIM. Kyu Yeon (Korea) – Semi-finalist
KUDO, Naomi (Japan/USA) – Quarter-finalist
KUNZ, Eduard (Russia) – Semi-finalist
WU, Di (China) – Finalist
ZHANG, Haochen (China) – 1st Prize

Also listed are 1st prize winners in other recent international competitions:

BOZHANOV, Evgeni (Bulgaria) – Sviatoslav Richter (2008), Casagrande (2008)
CHEN, John JS (New Zealand) – Sydney (2004)
DANK, Ran (Israel) – Hilton Head (2008)
GORLATCH, Alexei (Ukraine) – Hamamatsu (2006), Dublin (2009)
GULYAK, Sofya (Russia) – William Kapell (2007), Tivoli (2008) and others
JIA. Julian (China) – Ettlingen (2008)
KUNZ, Eduard (Russia, above) – Enescu (2007), Andorra (2007) and others
SCHOEMAN, Ben (South Africa) – UNISA Pretoria (2008)
TSUDA, Yuya (Japan) – Sendai (2007)
WU, Di (China) – Hilton Head (2005)
ZUBER, Eric (USA) – Hilton Head (2007)

One semi-finalist from Leeds 2006 has returned – Jae-Won Cheung (Korea), who performed Beethoven Op.111 and Prokofiev Sonata No.6 in 2006.

The breakdown of nationalities again shows an Asian dominance:

China 17 – including Taiwan (3, the folks at Leeds do not wish to offend the Communist Chinese) and Hong Kong (1)
South Korea 9 (No North Koreans, so please get the national flag right this time!)
Russia 8
Japan 6

Former Soviet republics 6

There are two Southeast Asian born pianists – Matthew Kam (Malaysia) and John JS Chen (Malaysia / New Zealand, pictured left). No Singaporean pianist has taken part in the Leeds since Seow Yitkin in the 1970s. What about it sometime, Abigail Sin?

The United Kingdom (and Ireland) has sent the grand total of 1 pianist – Sam Armstrong.

The youngest pianists are all Asians: Qi Xu (China, 14, pictured left), John Chen (China, 15), Boyang Shi (China, 16), Ryoma Takagi (Japan, 16), Rachel Cheung (Hong Kong, 17) and Julian Jia (China,17). Should there not be a minimum age – such as 18 - for participation? Note that some of the older competitors are double the age of these tots!

There are two pianists with the same name John Chen (China) and John Jit Shern Chen (New Zealand).
The founder and Artistic Director of the Leeds, Dame Fanny Waterman (left), is now 89 years old. Will she be grooming a successor or injecting some new blood into running the Competition?

The complete list of competitors may be found here:

1 comment:

Chang Tou Liang said...

Update: Cliburn finalists Zhang Haochen, Di Wu and Evgeny Bozhanov have all pulled out from the Leeds. Wise move, guys! With so many forthcoming engagements in the States, how could they cope with more Continental dates if they had won in Leeds? What if they DID NOT make the finals, what does that say about the Cliburn?

This leaves the field wide open for Cliburn semi-finalists Eduard Kunz and Ran Danck, as well as recent competition winners Alexey Gorlatch (Dublin) and Alessandro Taverna (Minnesota) as relative favourites.