LSM Newswire

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Honens International Piano Competition in NYC | 27-30 March 2009






More than 35 pianists from around the world will perform individual 40-minute solo recitals as part of the preliminary round called Stage One of the sixth Honens International Piano Competition. These performances will take place Friday, March 27, through Monday, March 30, 2009, at New York City's Peter Norton Symphony Space (2357 Broadway at 95th Street) in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater. Similar Stage One sessions will take place in Calgary, Munich, and Shanghai in the spring of 2009.

Honens International Piano Competition is one of the highest ranking musical competitions in the world. Its uniqueness lies in its mission to find the complete artist one who possesses technical mastery as well as expressiveness in a wide range of musical forms and styles one whose music-making possesses imagination, innovation and relevance in today's world.

Tickets are specially priced to allow a wide range of music lovers to attend the performances: $25 for a four-day pass, $10 for a one-day pass, and $5 for a single session. Passes may be purchased by calling 212/864-5400, online at SYMPHONYSPACE.ORG, or at the door.

The schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 27

Session 1 - 10 am to 1:10 pm (pianists 1 to 4)

Session 2 - 2 pm to 5:10 pm (pianists 5 to 8)

Session 3 - 7 pm to 9:20 pm (pianists 9 to 11)

Saturday, March 28

Session 1 - 10 am to 1:10 pm (pianists 11 to 14)

Session 2 - 2 pm to 5:10 pm (pianists 15 to 18)

Session 3 - 7 pm to 10:20 pm (pianists 19 to 22)

Sunday, March 29

Session 1 - 10 am to 1:10 pm (pianists 23 to 26)

Monday, March 30

Session 1 - 10 am to 1:10 pm (pianists 27 to 30)

Session 2 - 2 pm to 5:10 pm (pianists 31 to 34)

Session 3 - 7 pm to 10:20 pm (pianists 35 to 38)

(Schedule is subject to change)

There are three components to Honens International Piano Competition: a selection by application and reference letters only; Stage One recitals in the four cities previously listed; and finally the Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals performances in Calgary from October 22 to November 6, 2009. Prize winners of the Competition are announced on stage after the performances on the second evening of the Finals.

The Stage One performances in all four cities will be recorded on digital video under as similar conditions as possible. The Honens recording team will consist of an audio-visual engineer and a representative of the competition. The latter will ensure that conditions are as uniform as possible, and will note the state of instruments, the acoustical qualities of the rooms in which applicants perform, and any unusual circumstances that may exist (such as extreme temperatures). Members of the Stage One jury, or First Jury, will meet at The Banff Centre from June 1-6, 2009, to view the Stage One performance videos, then to choose 21 pianists who will be invited to advance to the Quarterfinals in Calgary which begins on October 22, 2009. Members of the First Jury are Angela Cheng, Chairwoman (Canada); Katherine Chi (First Laureate of the 2000 Honens International Piano Competition; Canada), Matthias Kirschnereit (Germany), Ronan O'Hora (United Kingdom).

The Second Jury, which will be the judges of the Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Finals in Calgary, are William Aide, Chairman (Canada), Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (1992 Honens Laureate; France), Iain Burnside (United Kingdom), Hung-Kuan Chen (Taiwan), Jane Coop (Canada), Aleksandar Madar (Serbia), and one more to be announced.

At the Quarterfinals, each pianist will perform an 8-minute work by a Canadian composer that has been commissioned specially for this Honens Competition, and will play a recital for violin and piano; the Semifinals will include performances of art songs and lieder; the Finals will require concerto performances.

Collaborating artists for the Competition include: Quarterfinals: Brian Current, composer (Canada) and Erika Raum, violin (Canada); Semifinals: Marie-Nicole Lemieux, contralto (Canada); and Finals: Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (Canada) and Christoph Campestrini, conductor (Austria)

Concert by Minsoo Sohn, Honens Laureate, April 1, 2009

Minsoo Sohn, First Laureate of the 2006 Honens International Piano Competition, will make his Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall debut in a solo recital on Wednesday, April 1, 2009. The works of Beethoven, as well as Liszt transcriptions of works by Bach, Schubert and Mozart, will be included.

Stephen McHolm, Executive Director of Honens, said: "We like to think of Honens as the 'musician's competition' -- a search to reveal to the public musicians who add knowledge, audacity, risk, individuality and the widest perspective to all they do. We search for artists whose interpretations grow from a wide cultural context and keen imagination, whose art is formed by a fascination for life outside the practice studio, and whose talent inspires the heart and engages the intellect.

"After identifying such artists, Honens nurtures their budding careers for no fewer than three seasons, limiting the number of professional engagements to begin with, while providing our winners with opportunities to build their profiles without pushing the limits of their professional obligations. During the 2006 cycle, Competition laureates performed at chamber music festivals, toured with string quartets, violinists and dance companies. Eventually, we encourage laureates to create 'out-of-the-box' projects that may range from celebrations of obscure composers to musical collaborations to theatrical presentations. Life is changing quickly and, of course, art is changing with it. We are preparing musicians for the 21st century, with audiences for the 21st century in mind."

The Sixth Honens International Piano Competition is presented by Nexen Inc. and supported by Steinway & Sons, Macleod Dixon LLP, and Enbridge.

Background Information

Honens International Piano Competition

Founded in 1992, Honens International Piano Competition has grown to be one of the world's great music competitions, known for its pursuit of the "complete artist" not only an accomplished soloist, but a musician whose interpretations reflect a wide cultural context, whose well-balanced programs are designed with knowledge and imagination, and who excels in chamber and ensemble performance. Every three years, 21 pianists between the ages of 20 and 30, from all parts of the globe, compete for more than $100,000 CAD (approximately $84,000 USD) in cash prizes, including a comprehensive three-season Artistic and Career Development Program for the laureates, preparing the for the rigors and realities of a professional life in music. This includes arranging performance engagements, production of recordings, residencies at The Banff Centre, promotional and publicity support, professional development opportunities for self-management, and networking opportunities with presenters and artist managers.

Honens searches for musicians whose talent, in the credo of the Competition, "inspires the heart and engages the intellect," whose understanding of his or her art will stem not only from knowledge of a particular composition itself but also from a wide knowledge of related music, of musical literature as a whole, of the other arts, the humanities, and of contemporary culture. Honens is not a series of tests, but rather, a compelling festival of music.

Past Honens Laureates include Maxim Philippov who, in June, 2001, won the Silver Medal at the Van Cliburn Competition; Albert Tiu, who won Juilliard's prestigious William Petschek Award, giving him a debut recital at Alice Tully Hall; Sergei Babayan, appointed Artist-in-Residence at The Cleveland Institute of Music, who founded the Sergei Babayan International Piano Academy in Cleveland and his own chamber music festival in Mexico (Babayan has recorded on the Connoisseur Society, Propiano and Discover International labels); Krzysztof Jablonski, who has recorded two CDs as part of the Polish National Edition of the complete works of Chopin (he has recorded 14 more CDs in Germany, Japan and Poland); Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, who has recorded several CDs of music by Haydn, Schumann, Ohana, Debussy and Chopin, the complete piano works of Ravel, and the recently critically acclaimed complete piano works of Debussy on the Chandos label (he has been nominated Professor-for-Life at the Detmold Hochschule in Germany); 2003 Laureate Winston Choi, Head of Piano Studies at Chicago's Roosevelt University, whose debut CD of the complete piano works of Elliott Carter received rave reviews, and whose CD of the music of Jacques Lenot was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque de l'Acadmie Charles Cros; Xiang Zou, 2003 First Laureate, who teaches at the Central Conservatory in Beijing; and Honens 2000 First Laureate, Katherine Chi.

Honens is now launching an online radio channel featuring past laureates, competition and concert highlights, and is recording many of the most important laureate engagements to create podcasts, thereby providing an additional promotional outlet for the musicians. Its "Music as a Second Language" concert series is used as a model for other presenters across Canada to introduce classical music to non-classical audiences. As presenter, Honens will feature Gabriela Montero's improvisational talents during the Competition in 2009; will present the North American premiere of the third Mendelssohn Piano Concerto; and will present one of only five North American dates of pianist Leif Ove Andsnes' performance project, "Pictures at an Exhibition Reframed," featuring multimedia artwork by South African artist Robin Rhode, specially commissioned for Lincoln Center's 50th anniversary by StatoilHydro.

The Competition is named for Esther Honens, born in Pittsburgh and educated in Calgary, who became a successful businesswoman. She married John Hillier, who died in the 1970s, then Harold Honens, with whom she developed real estate holdings in Calgary. In 1991, Esther Honens made a capital gift to establish the international piano competition. She died five days after the first competition in 1992. After five competitions, Honens has distinguished itself as one of the most prominent competitions of its kind, worldwide. Additional information is available on-line at

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