International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs

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Dominic Piers Smith (race car designer, UK) at the finals of the 23rd International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs (2012)

The International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs (French: Concours des Grands Amateurs de Piano) is a piano competition for amateur pianists, held in Paris, France. It has been held annually since 1989. The competition is widely considered to be one of the top-level competitions for amateur musicians in the world.[1] [2]

Concept[edit]

Created in 1989 by Gérard Bekerman, professor of economics at the university and a graduate of the Paris School of Music, the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs is designed for top-level amateurs. They come from all walks of life – doctors, office workers, lawyers, students, pensioners, engineers, and many others. The contestant's minimum age is 18; there is no upper age limit.

The competition has met with considerable success over the years, attracting hundreds of candidates from more than 50 countries worldwide.[3] One of the basic principles of the competition is the free choice of programme. There are no set pieces. The aim is not to limit the candidates, but to discover the works of musicians of their own choosing. Gérard Bekerman, the founder of the competition, claims that in Paris, the desire to "win" is outweighed by the love of music: "Pianists discover that the Competition for Outstanding Amateurs is not a competition but an 'anti-competition'. There are no opponents, no competitors, no judges, just music lovers".[3]

The competition is held in three rounds:

  • Preliminaries: candidate’s choice (10 minutes)
  • Semi-finals: a work by Bach and a romantic composition (15 minutes)
  • Finals: free program (30 minutes)

Ten to twelve semi-finalists and five or six finalists are selected each year.

Level[edit]

Poster of the final round of the 25th Competition (2014) with the programmes of the finalists

The originality of the competition lies in the fact that the competitors are not amateurs in the sense of "dabblers", but pianists, "who don’t just play the piano", musicians who, at some time in their lives, have had to make a choice, often a difficult one, between their profession and their potential career as a concert performer, the choice between making a living and their love of music.[4]

As a result, the quality of the performance is very high. Many of the amateurs are real virtuosi; pianists often choose technically tough pieces by Liszt, Chopin or Rachmaninoff for their repertoire.[5]

The winners have been invited to play with orchestral backing in the Sorbonne in Paris, under the baton of Georges Prêtre and the American conductor George Pehlivanian and, more recently, with the Symphony Orchestra of the Republican Guard of Paris directed by François Boulanger and the orchestra of the Paris Conservatorium of Music conducted by Pierre-Michel Durand. Many award winners have been invited to play at the Les Amateurs Virtuoses! festival, one of the most significant festivals for amateur pianists held all over the world.[6]

Jury[edit]

Each year, the panel of judges consists of well-known pianists and key personalities: Idil Biret, Geneviève Joy-Dutilleux, Anne Queffelec, Sabine Lacoarret, Germaine Devèze, François-René Dûchable, Marc Laforet, Aldo Ciccolini, Michel Dalberto, Jay Gottlieb, Alexis Weissenberg, Marc-Olivier Dupin, Éric Heidsieck, Jean-Claude Pennetier, Dominique Merlet, Siheng Song, Michel Beroff, Nella Rubinstein and so on.

A second "press panel" consists of more than twenty music critics representing both the main European dailies and the national and international media.

Finally, there is an "audience award" which is given to the amateur pianist who has the most votes from the audience, collected at the final round of the competition.

Prize winners[edit]

Top prize winners (since 2009)
No. Year 1st 2nd 3rd Press award Audience award
20th 2009 United Kingdom Rupert Egerton-Smith (lawyer) Ukraine Dmytro Vynohradov (airline manager) France Romaine Coharde (meteorological engineer)

Brazil Robert Fuchs (architect) (tie)

France Romaine Coharde (meteorological engineer) United Kingdom Rupert Egerton-Smith (lawyer)
21st 2010 France Loïc Lafontaine (assistant manager) Canada Michael Cheung (management consultant) Canada Daniel Chow (chartered accountant) France Loïc Lafontaine (assistant manager) France Loïc Lafontaine (assistant manager)
22nd 2011 United Kingdom Simon Grisdale (interpreter)

France Robin Stephenson (mathematician) (tie)

France Claire Rocher (mathematician) United States Gorden Cheng (financial analyst) United Kingdom Simon Grisdale (interpreter)

France Robin Stephenson (mathematician) (tie)

France Robin Stephenson (mathematician)
23rd 2012 United Kingdom Dominic Piers Smith (race car designer) Japan Kensuke Ota (physician) Hong Kong Ricker Choi (financial analyst) United Kingdom Dominic Piers Smith (race car designer) United Kingdom Dominic Piers Smith (race car designer)
24th 2013 France Sylvain Carpentier (mathematician) Italy Paolo Gilardi (phycologist) Switzerland Jeremy Mätzener (law student) France Sylvain Carpentier (mathematician) France Sylvain Carpentier (mathematician)
25th 2014 France Antoine Moreau (manager) France Thomas Prat (quantitative analyst) Russia Mikhail Dubov (computer scientist)

United States June Wu (consultant) (tie)

Russia Mikhail Dubov (computer scientist) France Thomas Prat (quantitative analyst)
26th 2015 France Samuel Bach (mathematician)

United States Michaël Slavin (ophthalmologist) (tie)

Israel Eric Rouach (estate agent) Israel Eric Rouach (estate agent) Israel Eric Rouach (estate agent)

France Samuel Bach (mathematician) (tie)

27th 2016 France Olivier Korber (trader) France Olivier Dupont (financial engineer)

France Julien Cohen (mathematician) (tie)

France Olivier Korber (trader) France Olivier Korber (trader)
28th 2017 United Kingdom William Galton (mathematician) Israel Eric Rouach (estate agent) France Jean-Roch Le Henaff (medical student) United Kingdom William Galton (mathematician) United States Zach Weiner (software engineer)

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Competition report in the International Piano Magazine, accessed 5 January 2015.
  2. ^ Putting the Amour Back in Amateur, Colorado Springs Independent, accessed 3 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b Website of the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, accessed 5 January 2015.
  4. ^ Interview with Gérard Bekerman in the "Crescendo" magazine Archived 2014-10-05 at the Wayback Machine., accessed 3 February 2015.
  5. ^ Competition report in the "Pianist" magazine, accessed 3 February 2015.
  6. ^ Website of the "Les Amateurs Virtuoses!" piano festival, accessed 3 February 2015.