Preliminaries end with 35 semifinalists

Preliminaries end with 35 semifinalists

Preliminaries end with 35 semifinalists

Scott Hasty

Nothing but excellence is on the agenda for this year’s Missouri Southern International Piano Competition.

Now that the Jan. 6 MSIPC entry deadline has passed, a group known as the MSIPC Selection Jury has the job of sifting through thousands of applications.

Members of the Selection Jury are Robert Harris, a retired piano player; Gloria Jardon, music instructor; Robert Ensor, music instructor at Crowder College; Elizabeth Kemm, retired faculty member; and Vivian León, director of MSIPC.

Applications have been sent from countries ranging from Canada to South Africa to Korea.

“The competition is very diverse,” said Gary Duncan, CEO of Freeman Hospitals. “You could almost ask what continents all these pianists are from.”

Though thousands submitted, León said only the cream of the crop would be able to make the cut.

“There are only 35 positions open,” León said. “We have two divisions in the competition which are the junior and senior Divisions.

“There are 15 pianists, ages 17 and under, making up the Junior Division, and 20 pianists, ages 18 to 30, make up the senior division. Six alternates also make up the finalists.”

Applications were submitted via DVD or videotape.

These applications serve as the preliminary round for the competition.

Viewing thousands of entries can be “very long and very difficult.”

“We try to be as unbiased in the selection process as possible,” León said. “In order to apply, [applicants] need to know many high-level classical works.

“In playing, the pianist needs to be able to express the different time periods and feelings through their music.”

Once semifinalists and finalists are selected, an “arduous” week will be ahead for them April 23 through April 29.

The week will begin with an Orientation/Welcome Party and Master Class/Opening Concert. Semifinals go on that Tuesday through Thursday. The finals and Gala Concert/Reception conclude the week.

“For a prestigious event like this, we have to have a prestigious judge panel,” León said.

The judge panel includes Nataya Antonova, Russian professor at the Eastman School of Music; Nigel Coxe, Jamaican professor at the London Royal Academy; KwiHyun Kim, Korean director at the Seoul National University; Frank Heneghan, Irish director/author at the School of Music Dublin Institute of Technology and Nancy Weems, American professor at the University of Houston.

“I used to have to look for people like this to judge,” León said. “Now they come to us. That in itself speaks very well for us.”

The MSIPC takes much pride in the work it does said many organizers of the event.

“By all accounts we know there are no other international piano competitions in Missouri,” Duncan said.

The MSIPC does many things for many individuals, León said.

“The community is investing in this event,” she said.

“Really, this event is a gift to the community, because the community gives so much to us.”