Sydney International Piano Competition
|Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia|
|Awarded for||Exceptional piano performance|
|Presented by||Australian Broadcasting Corporation|
The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia is a music competition, presented by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in association with the University of Sydney and broadcast live throughout Australia. It is held every four years, over a three-week period in July-August, and is internationally recognised as one of the world's great piano competitions. It was established in July 1977 by Claire Dan, with co-founders Rex Hobcroft and Robert Tobias, and was admitted as a member of the Federation of International Music Competitions in 1978. The Artistic Director since its inception has been Warren Thomson, who has also served as Chairman of the jury since 1992.
Traditionally, the previous winner presents a Gala Opening Recital.
The competition proper consists of five stages. All 36 competitors appear in the first two stages, which each involve a 20-minute solo recital. Competitors must include an Australian work chosen from a group of pieces set by the organizers. Miriam Hyde's Valley of Rocks was one of the pieces set for the 1988 competition; it was chosen by 23 of the contestants, and it went on to become her best-known work.
After this the best 20 are chosen to proceed to the third stage, a 40-minute recital. Twelve pianists are selected to proceed to the fourth stage, a 50-minute recital and participation in a chamber work. Six competitors are selected for the final stage, in which they play two piano concertos with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
The first four stages take place at the Seymour Centre, University of Sydney, and the fifth stage is held at Sydney Opera House. The winner receives a prize of $25,000, with smaller prizes awarded for other placings. All stages are broadcast live on radio throughout Australia and to the world online, by ABC Classic FM.
In the competition's thirty-year history, no Australian pianist has won first prize.
Despite its generally recognised prestige, the competition has been strongly criticised by some established Australian pianists. The pianist and composer Larry Sitsky said: "The title Sydney International Piano Competition sounds grand and definitive. But behind the facade is a rather shabby private party in progress". The Liszt specialist and composer Leslie Howard said: "I was asked to be on the international advisory panel for this years ago ... and since then have never heard from any of them. ... No-one, of course, will ever hear from any of the prize-winners. They all seem to have had rather too close connections with members of the jury, which in any case is composed mostly of lacklustre teachers ... who have never been professional concert pianists in their lives and wouldn't recognise good and original artistry if it jumped up and bit them". Michael Kieran Harvey has asked: "What does the complete lack of success past SIPCA winners have had at making a career say about the cloth-eared selectors who travel around the world at great expense auditioning young hopefuls? Why, if SIPCA is such an internationally significant competition, are second-rate teachers no-one's ever heard of, to say nothing of completely unqualified non-musicians, sitting in judgment at this supposedly premier music event?" Despite his criticism, Harvey agreed to become the commentator for the ABC's radio broadcast of the 2000 competition, "in an attempt to provide some objective analysis".
Critics have also pointed to the dominance of Warren Thomson, who single-handedly chooses the repertoire and all the jurors, many of whom are associated with the Australian Institute of Music (AIM), of which he is Artistic Director, Professional Development Programs. With assistance from others, he also auditions all the entrants, and chooses the 36 competitors. Alexei Yemtsov, a competitor at the 2000 competition, lived in Thomson's home and Thomson became his official guardian. That year, the minimum age was lowered from 18 to 17, although Thomson denied it had anything to do with Yemtsov's being only 17 at the time. The pianist Simon Tedeschi has said he "has no intention of ever collaborating with Thomson and SIPCA ... The school of pianism with which he associates himself is not to my taste ... The trained-seal mentality makes for poor musicianship, and, ultimately, unhappy lives". Margaret Hair, AIM's former head of keyboard studies, said: "There's a feeling among teachers that with Warren [Thomson] in charge, Australian students have little chance of making the final cut. The most tragic outcome of his effect on the piano scene in this country is a sense of hopelessness that most students now feel".
Critics have also pointed to the fact that in some cases competitors are the students of members of the jury. For example, Mikhail Yanovitsky and Dmitry Grigortsevich, finalists in the 1996 competition, were students of Mikhail Voskresenky and Lev Vlassenko respectively, both of whom were jurors.
On the other hand, the list of musicians and others who have been involved with the competition as either patrons or jurors includes such names as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Lazar Berman, Sir Bernard Heinze, Eileen Joyce, Eugene List, Sir Charles Mackerras, Denis Matthews, Hephzibah Menuhin, John O'Conor, Harold C. Schonberg, Sir Georg Solti and Gordon Watson.
Prize winners and jurors
- 1977 Prize-Winners. The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-26
- 1981 Prize-Winners. The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-26
- 1985 Prize-Winners. The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-26
- 1988 Prize-Winners. The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-26.
- 1992 Prize-Winners. The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-26
- 1996 Prize-Winners. The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-26
- 2000 Prize-Winners. The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-26
- 2004 Prize-Winners. The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-26
- Competitors Chosen for 2008 Competition. The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-29
- "Sydney International Piano Competition 2004". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
- "The Sydney Piano Competition Winner". riverside Parramatta.com. Retrieved 4 April 2008.[dead link]
- SIPCA 2012
- "About the Competition". The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
- "Website Detail". Acn.net.au. Retrieved 26 April 2008.[dead link]
- "Competitors Chosen for 2008 Competition". The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
- "Opening Recital — The Sydney International Piano Competition". Sydney International Piano Competition. 22 April 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
- "International Piano Opening". Seymour Box Office. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
- "International Piano Stage 3". Seymour Box Office. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
- "International Piano Semi Final". Seymour Box Office. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
- "Sydney International Piano Competition". The University of Sydney. Retrieved 4 May 2008.[dead link]
- "What's new?". The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
- "14. Competition Stages". The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
- "3. Prizes and Special Prizes". The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
- Kelly Burke: "Musicians lift lid on 'piano Olympics'", The Age 3 July 2000
- Kelly Burke, "Tinkle, tinkle, little stars", Sydney Morning Herald, 1 July 2000
- "Hephzibah Menuhin 1920-1981". Live Performance Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
- "Eileen Joyce (1908–1991) Timeline" (PDF). University of Western Australia. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
- John Painter and Viktor Makarov were originally chosen as jurors, but Painter withdrew due to illness, and Makarov was removed by Warren Thomson to allay concerns over the method of selection of judges. Phillip Shovk and Timothy Calnin were chosen in their places.
- "2008 SIPCA website". The Sydney International Piano Competition. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
- SIPCA 2012 winners
- American Protege International Piano and Strings Competition International Competition for Young Pianists and Professionals with winners performing at Carnegie Hall, New York 
- Official website
- ABC Classic FM - Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia
- Piano Competitions & Music Competitions at Bakitone International