The second edition of the Australian International Chopin Piano Competition was held 15-21 September 2014.
There was an international jury and an international competitor cohort.
Special guest juror was Professor Wojciech Switala.
First prize was awarded to Kotaro Nagano (Japan)
Second prize was awarded to Daria Kameneva (Russia)
Third Prize was awarded to Elina Akselrud (Ukraine/USA)
The Peoples Choice Prize was awarded to Kotaro Nagano
Professor Larry Sitsky was a founding member of the Canberra School of Music, Australian National University, and has held various positions including Head of Composition Studies, Head of Academic Studies and Head of Keyboard Studies.
As well as working with every orchestra in Australia, Sitsky has been commissioned to compose works for the Sydney International Piano Competition, the ABC, Musica Viva, the International Clarinet Society and the International Flute Convention. Sitsky’s collection of teaching pieces, Century, has been published by Currency Press. Numerous other works have been published by the New York based Seesaw Music Corporation with whom he has an open contract. Sitsky has received numerous honours for his composition and his research. He has also been awarded an Order of Australia Medal, a Centenary Medal, Advance Australia Award, and cultural ambassadorships to China, Russia, and the USA.
Sitsky’s research has been supported by a number of Australian Research Council Grants. His areas of expertise include the music of Busoni, Rubinstein, music of the twentieth century avant-garde, the repressed Russian avant-garde and 20th century Australian piano music. Many of Sitsky’s writings on these topics have now become standard texts. Sitsky’s own compositional works are included in numerous anthologies and collections released on labels including ABC Classics, Tall Poppies and Jade CDs.
In recognition of Sitsky’s various achievements, the Australian National University awarded Sitsky its first Higher Doctorate in Fine Arts in 1997, and in 2001 he was named Artist of the Year. A biography of Sitsky was published in the USA in 1997, and in 2004 the National Library of Australia published a book by Jim Cotter titled Sitsky: Conversations with the Composer.
The Competition is privileged to welcome Larry back as Chair in 2014, the year in which he marks his 80th birthday.
Wojciech Świtała is a graduate of the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, where he studied with Professor Józef Stompel. He has won prizes at numerous international competitions, including Bardolino (First Prize), the Long-Thibaud Competition in Paris (Second Grand Prix, audience prize and prize for best European participant) and the Montreal Piano Competition.
Wojciech Świtała’s discography includes works by Liszt, Schumann, as well as Chopin’s Preludes, Op.28 and the Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brilliante, Op.22 (recorded for the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute on Pleyel and Erard pianos). In 2000 and 2005 his discs were awarded the Grand Prix du Disque Frederic Chopin and in 2002 he received the Fryderyk Award of the Polish recording industry. In 2010 he recorded the complete collection of Chopin’s songs with Ewa Iżykowska, published by the National Centre of Culture as part of their collection. His latest recording is of the Ballades, both on modern piano and historic Pleyel fortepiano (published by the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute).
Świtała is currently a Professor at the Piano Department at the Academy of Music in Katowice, becoming Head of Piano in 2012. He has served on numerous international competition juries, including the National Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (2007-2008, 2011-2012), and the International Chopin Piano Competition in Singapore (2010). In 2015 he will be a jury member at the 17th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.
Winner of the Sydney International Piano Competition’s Best Australian Pianist Prize, Shan Deng is a well-known Australian-Chinese pianist now working in Hobart, Tasmania. Her successes include winning the keyboard final of the ABC Young Performer of the year award, and representing the Arts as a national finalist in the Young Australian of the Year competition.
Shan’s early music studies were undertaken in the gifted children’s program at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Studying with Leah Horwitz, she obtained her Bachelor of Music at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University with first class honours and a university medal. Shan has also received Fulbright and Churchill fellowships to perform and study in the USA (Manhattan School of Music, Phillip Kawin) and South Africa (University of Cape Town, Lamar Crowson). Shan currently holds two Masters of Music in Performance. Concert demands have taken Shan around the world, and she has performed in Australia, Asia, the USA, South Africa and Europe. She has appeared with all the Australian Symphony Orchestras, and has been featured in numerous Australian, Chinese and South African radio and television programs.
Shan is currently Lecturer in piano and co-ordinator of the keyboard at the University of Tasmania. In 2014, Shan was awarded the Australian Council for the Arts International Pathway grant and will travel to China for a concert tour, including the world premier of a newly commissioned solo piece ‘Choro’ by Maria Grenfell.
Natasha Vlassenko was born in Moscow and graduated from the Moscow Central Music School and Moscow Conservatory. She studied under Professor Jakob Flier and later pursued postgraduate studies with her father, Professor Lev Vlassenko. As a student, she was awarded the prestigious Tchaikovsky Scholarship. Natasha has won major prizes in several international competitions including the Beethoven International Piano Competition in Vienna and the Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy.
Natasha has recorded for Moscow Radio and TV stations as well as ABC radio, and she has released a number of CDs. Before coming to Australia, Natasha taught at the Central Music School of Moscow Conservatory. She is now Head of Keyboard Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. Many of her students have become prize winners of major International and National piano competitions. In 1999 Natasha and Oleg Stepanov became the founders and artistic directors of the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition, which has become the most significant national piano competition in Australia.
Natasha’s recent activities include serving as a Jury member for the 2013 Beethoven International Piano Competition in Vienna, Austria, and 2014 Kerikeri International Piano competition in New Zealand. She has also conducted Masterclasses and performed at 2014 Hamamatsu International Piano Academy in Japan, and performed with the Russian National Orchestra under Michael Pletnev at the 2014 International Piano Festival, in memory of Lev Vlassenko, in Moscow. This year, together with Oleg Stepanov, Natasha has produced a new CD: Liszt 200 Years.
Maciej Pawela is a piano teacher and performer who was born in Poland, and after immigrating to Australia in 1983 now lives and works in Sydney. Maciej attended the State School of Music in Bytom and went on to study piano performance at the Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice. He completed his Master of Arts degree with Distinction in 1981.
During his student days he was awarded the Frederic Chopin Society scholarship in Warsaw twice, was awarded first place at the Prokofiev competition in Katowice, was a prize-winner at the Polish Pianistry Festival in Slupsk, and was the winner of the Piano Trio category in the All-Poland Chamber Music Competition in Lodz. He then held a piano teaching position at the Silesian University in Katowice. In Australia he has taken an active role in the musical life of his new homeland, including recordings for radio and television. His chamber music collaborations include Richard Tognetti, Georg Pedersen, Wanda Wilkomirska, Natalie Chee, Alex Todicescu, Christina Leonard, amongst many others. Maciej has also organised several concerts as the president of the Chopin Society of Sydney for young Australian musicians and contemporary Australian composers.
In his teaching Maciej aims to broaden the musical horizons of students by studying music of a variety of genres and music by lesser-known composers of a number of cultures, to encourage students to participate in ensemble groups, and to gain experience teaching for themselves.
Elina Akselrud made her first appearance with an orchestra at the age of eight, studying at Kiev Special Music School with Prof. Irina Lipatova and Irina Barinova. Elina is an international multi-prizewinner. She has played concertos with several orchestras, including the Ukrainian National Orchestra. She is the winner of the ‘Chopin on Thousand Islands’ International Piano Competition in Cape Vincent, NY (1st Prize, 2010) and The III Chopin International Piano Competition in Hartford, CT (1st Prize, 2012). In 2014 she obtained a Master of Music Degree with honors under the tutelage of Prof. Alexander Korsantia at New England Conservatory in Boston, where she won the NEC Concerto Competition and appeared with NEC Symphony in Jordan Hall in November 2013. In 2014 Elina received the 2nd Prize at I Midwest International Piano Competition in Cedar Falls, IA, U.S.A.
Born in Perth, Kevin Chow started piano lessons at age 5. In 2007, he won the Bernstein National Piano Competition, completed his ABRSM Diploma and featured with the Fremantle Orchestra as piano soloist in several performances of Grainger’s The Warriors. Awards include the 3MBS Young Performer of the Year Award, Hephzibah Menuhin Award, Nehama Patkin Memorial Award, VMTA Kault Prize, LMusA Diploma with Distinction and South Eastern Arts Festival Chopin and Concerto Prizes. Kevin has given recitals in the USA, New Zealand, Indonesia, China and throughout Australia. In 2013 Kevin made his concerto debut performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor with the Zelman Symphony Orchestra, a performance he later reprised with the Preston Symphony Orchestra. He is currently a Bachelor of Music student at the University of Melbourne, studying piano with Glenn Riddle.
Korean-Canadian pianist Monica Han has been consistently recognised as a soloist in performances, festivals and competitions across the globe. She is a grand-prix winner of the British Columbia Provincial Competition and a Silver Medalist at the Canadian National Music Competition. While studying in New York City, she was awarded Honourable Mention at the International Union City Philharmonic Competition in New Jersey, and Bradshaw and Buono International Competition in New York. Most recently, Monica won the audience’s favourite award and the first prize in the concerto competition with the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also made appearances with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Pilgrim Orchestra. Monica has given performances in China, France, and Italy. In the autumn of 2013, Monica was accepted into the Master’s program with a full scholarship at the University of British Columbia.
Born in Taipei, Shih-Wei Huang has been praised as ‘A true artist, a great talent, and a serious musician’ by Tamás Vásáry. Ms. Huang completed her Bachelor of Music at the Curtis Institute, and Master of Music at Yale University. Ms. Huang’s recent awards include the Steinway Young Artist 2014, the National Talent Bank 2012, the 52nd Sorantin International Competition for Piano 2011, and The Dorothy MacKenzie Artist Recognition Award in NY. Ms. Huang performs as a soloist and as chamber musician throughout the world, and has cooperated with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra and members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Her most recent tour includes an invitation from conductor Tamás Vásáry with the Kodály Zoltán Orchestra in which one of the concerts will be available on DVD in 2015.
Daria Kameneva was born in Moscow, Russia, and started studying piano from age 5. While still a student, she won several youth competitions and was consequently accepted to study at the Moscow Music College with Professor Natalia Suslova. In 2006 she joined the class of Professor Stanislav Igolinsky at Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. In 2008 she won 2nd prize and Chamber Music Prize at the IV International Piano Competition in Almaty (Kazakhstan). In 2011 Daria won 1st prize and Audience Prize at the European Piano Competition in France, which led to the production of a CD, released by German record company ‘Acousence’ in 2012. As well as performing recitals across Russia, she has also performed in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Belarus, Spain, Sweden, and the Ukraine.
Łukasz Krupiński was born in 1992 in Warsaw and started playing the piano at age 5. Currently he is studying at the Frederic Chopin University of Music in Warsaw under the direction of Prof. Alicja Paleta-Bugaj and Dr Konrad Skolarski. He has won prestigious awards internationally, including first prize and a special award at the Stanislaw Moniuszko International Competition of Slavic Music in Minsk, Belarus (2011), third prize at the 44th Polish National F. Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (2012), and Grand Prix and two special awards at the II Chopin Siberian International Piano Competition in Tomsk (2013). In 2013 he was granted the ‘Pro Polonia’ Foundation Award and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Prize for remarkable artistic achievements. In 2014 he received a scholarship at the YAMAHA Music Foundation of Europe competition.
Kotaro Nagano was born in Tokyo in 1988 and graduated from the Tokyo Metropolitan Senior High School of Music in 2007. He has performed at major recitals, festivals and competitions in Tokyo, Taiwan, Poland and Canada. These accolades include passing to The 15th International Chopin Competition’s first round (2005), being a Montreal International Musical Competition Semi Finalist (2008), First Prize and Special Prize for the best performance of Taiwanese composition at the 12th Taipei International Chopin Piano Competition (2008), first prize in the Tokyo Piano Competition (2010), and a diploma at the 16th Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland. (2010) Kotaro’s concert touring has included a solo recital of Chopin’s works in Taipei, including performing Chopin’s 1st concerto with the Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra in Kaohsiung (2009).
Piotr Nowak was born in 1993, and at the age of six he started to play the piano. He is a Young Poland scholarship holder, and is currently a student at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz in the class of Prof Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń. He is one of the best young pianists in Poland: second prize in V International Chopin Piano Competition (Hartford, Connecticut, 2014), first prize in the XVII International Piano Festival (Nałęczów, 2013), second prize in the 44th National Chopin Competition organized by the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute (Warsaw, 2012), first prize in the VIII International Competition ‘Chopin Golden Ring’ (Radovljica, Slovenia, 2012), the Grand Prix in the VII National Piano Festival ‘Chopin Interpretations of Young Pianists’ (Żychlin, 2010), and second prize in the National Auditions Classes Piano Music School (Warsaw, 2010).
Konrad Olszewski recently completed his Masters of Music (Piano Performance) under the guidance of Glenn Riddle at the University of Melbourne. Konrad has won first prize in the Ewa Malewicz Musical Scholarship (Sydney 2006), the Dorothy Glover Memorial Award (2006), the Herbert Davis Award (2006), the Chris Krans Instrumental Award (2006) and the Hephzibah Menuhin Memorial Award (2010). In 2005, Konrad gave a recital in Chopin’s birthplace in Zelazowa Wola, Poland, and in 2013, Konrad embarked on a study venture in Europe that presented him the opportunity of working with eminent piano professors including Piotr Paleczny from The Chopin Academy, Warsaw. More recently, Konrad has participated in the Sydney International Piano Competition and, soon after, was awarded the prestigious John Allison Sydney Eisteddfod Scholarship (2012) performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2.
Albertina Eunju Song was born in Seoul and began playing piano at age 5. From 2003 to 2007, she studied with a scholarship at the Yonsei University in the class of Prof. Young-lan Han. In 2008 she moved to Germany and continued her studies in Stuttgart with Prof. Andrzej Ratusinki, where she graduated her Masters degree with the highest honors. Albertina has gone on to win numerous prizes at international competitions, including 1st Prize and laureate and the International Piano Competition in Germany J. B. Cramer (2009), 1st Prize at the International Piano Competition in Italy Lia Tortora (2010), and 1st Prize for the music prize of the Lions Club Stuttgart-Schlossgarten (2011). In 2014 she has already been awarded several prizes at international competitions, and she is a beneficiary of the ArteMusica-Stiftung Frankfurt, Germany.
Maciej Wota was born 5 December 1992 in Jarosław, Poland. Having started piano playing at age four, he currently studies at The Frederic Chopin University of Music in Warsaw with Prof. Jerzy Sterczyński. He participated in many master classes with professors such as: Andrzej Jasiński, Józef Stompel, and Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń. He has performed in Poland, Norway, England, Belgium, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary and in Germany. Maciej Wota is a laureate of national and international piano competitions, including first prize and a special prize for the best performance of Chopin mazurkas in X International Chopin Piano Competition in Antotnin (2008), first prize in II National Chopin Competition in Rzeszów (2009), and laureate of the Polish Piano Festival in Słupsk (2012). From 2008 to 2011 he was a scholar of Polish Children’s Fund.
The gallery for the photos of the 2nd edition is still being developed.