Contestants find difficulty with traveling to competition

Philip Martin

With the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition in full swing, some competitors are happy to have made it to Southern.

Natalia Kazaryan, junior competitor from Armenia, said on her way to Southern her flights were delayed as she was coming from Michigan, where she is studying. Her flight was also delayed in Chicago, causing her to be late to the Springfield airport, which worried her host family.

“When I was waiting for her at the Springfield airport all the airplane people exited the plane, and nobody came up to me,” said Bonnie Zuehlke, Kazaryan’s host for the week. “I had my name tag; I had my shirt on. I was looking very friendly. Everybody walked right past me, and everybody was gone. I thought ‘Oh no, she wasn’t on the plane. Where is she?'”

Zuehlke said she waited for 10 minutes before contacting someone with the competition in Joplin to try and locate Kazaryan.

“She said, ‘She should be on that plane. She should be there. Don’t you leave the airport. I’ll find out where she is,'” Zuehlke said. “Just as we were closing our conversation, she [Kazaryan] had already gone to get her baggage. She ran up to me and recognized me.”

Kazaryan is currently living in Michigan and studying with Logan Skelton, associate professor at the University of Michigan.

Sandro Russo, senior division player from Italy, said the only problem he encountered was finding cheap airfare from New York, where he has lived for the past four years.

“I was trying to find the best airfare, because, partly due to the connection, the airfare was quite expensive,” Russo said. “Considering it’s a trip within the U.S., but then, eventually, I found something that was reasonable.”

Russo did not have any problems with his flights.

Some of the junior division contestants that came from China did have some trouble obtaining their visas. Once Vivian León, director of MSIPC, found out about it she got in contact with U.S. Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) and the consulates in China to help the contestants obtain their visas.

A couple of weeks before the competition was to begin, the competitors obtained their visas and were able to make the trip to Joplin.