Aarhus International Piano Competition 2019 showcases unique performances


By Karem Nerio, photos by Tom McKenzie

Lovers of piano and classical music have a date to enjoy exciting performances made by young pianists from the 15th to the 23th of March. Aarhus International Piano Competition is an opportunity to listen to unique performers from around the globe.

“It’s really out of the world what they are doing. It is a huge amount of talent that is concentrated in Aarhus that week”, said pianist, and one of the organizers of the competition, Jens Kjær Riemer.

For the fifth edition of this biennial event, 42 pianists have been invited. They come from Denmark, China, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, South Korea, Australia, USA, and others. Riemer expressed that the performances of these participants are unique: “The young pianists are not silver-wired the same way that the older pianists are. It is much cleaner and much more direct in some way”. The interpreters in the Category A are 11 to 15 years old; and those from Category B, 16 to 21 years old.

Hao Wei Lin, 2nd Prize winner in 2017 at the final concert (photo: Tom McKenzie)

Last year Kyle Huwon, winner of Category A, won the first prize in the piano section at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians. The winner for Category B, Rafael Kyrychenko has worked as artist in Residence in the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth in Belgium.

The competition is divided into three rounds, in which the pianist will interpret three different pieces by memory. The first round, they have to play a piece by Carl Nielsen, a Danish composer; in the second round, a free repertoire; and in the final concert, they will interpret classical pieces with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra. Riemer mentioned that round one and two can be a very “intimate”, given that it is a performance with a small audience and the public can get to know more the competitors through their interpretations. These two first performances are free and for the final it is required to purchase a ticket.

According to the organizer, participants practice daily almost 3 to 12 hours in order to get ready for this competition. This kind of commitment has years of study behind. “It’s something that the pianists dedicate their whole lives for, from a very early age, because if they didn’t do that it would be impossible to go on stage and be so powerful as they are” he said.

Prize winners of Group B in 2017 (photo: Tom McKenzie)

One of the motivations that drives Riemer is that the competition can “strengthen the classical culture in our city” and encourage young people to try out piano and classical music, he said.

The participants will be competing for the first three places in each category, which have different prizes. The jury also includes pianists from different nationalities; Søren Rastogi (Denmark), Idil Biret (Turkey), Akiko Ebi (Japan), Caroline Hong (USA), Ewa Pobłocka (Poland), Markus Schirmer (Austria) and Antti Siirala (Finland).

The Competition was established in 2009 and has several concert partners, such as Aarhus Symfoniorkester, Bornholms Musikfestival, Copenhagen Summer Festival, Fanø Sommerkoncerter, Fredericia Musikforening, Fuglsang Musikforening, Gradus International Piano Festival, Haderslev Musikforening, Kammermusik Odense, Odense Symfoniorkester, Odserred Kammermuiskfestival, Sct. Pauls Kirke, Aarhus, and Østergaard Musikforening.

For more information about the Aarhus International Piano Competition visit their official web page: https://pianocompetition.dk/competition/

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