CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The UNI School of Music has publicly announced the establishment of the Midwest International Piano Competition, June 1 through 7, 2014, to be held on the University of Northern Iowa campus. Pianists will compete for a collective $25,000 in prize money, with top honors also earning a recording contract with the Blue Griffin Record label valued at $5,000. The competition is open to outstanding youth and professional performing pianists as well as audience enthusiasts.
John Vallentine, director of the School of Music, announced the event at a special gala evening hosted by UNI President Bill and Judy Ruud. "Our new president is extremely supportive of music, especially since he was a former all-state clarinet player and understands the value of the arts for students studying on a university campus," said Vallentine.
"UNI provost Gloria Gibson and dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences Joel Haack are also pianists and understand the value of music education," he continued. "Our piano faculty members, who themselves have successfully competed and won prestigious awards at international competitions, bring real passion and artistic leadership for the competition at UNI."
Sean Botkin, faculty pianist, performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in August 2012, and in Rome, Italy, this fall with the Saint Cecilia National Academy Orchestra. Last summer, faculty artist Dmitri Vorobiev founded an institute for UNI students to study and perform in Leipzig, Germany. Both faculty members will serve as the artistic directors of the competition.
The Midwest International Piano Competition will be held in the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC). Competing pianists will be separated into two categories: junior competitors (up to 17 years old) and senior competitors (up to 32 years old). All selected competitors will perform for an internationally acclaimed jury on the Great Hall stage, which has celebrated performances by Olga Kern, Haochen Zhang, Yeol Eum Son, Emanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and more.
The competition jurors will be world-renowned pianists Arthur Greene, Alexander Toradze and Miroslav Brejcha. Greene studied at Juilliard with Martin Canin and was a Gold Medal winner in the William Kapell and Gina Bachauer International Piano Competitions, as well as a top laureate at the Busoni International Competition. He has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra; the San Francisco, Utah and National Symphonies; the Czech National Symphony; the Tokyo Symphony and many others.
Toradze is universally recognized as a masterful virtuoso in the grand Romantic tradition. Highlights from Toradze's international appearances this season alone include the Berlin Philharmonic, performing Stravinsky's Piano Concerto, touring with the Kirov Orchestra in Austria and Japan, the NHK and Super World Orchestra in Tokyo, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, along with additional engagements in Germany, Sweden, Italy and Hungary. As a pianist, Brejcha has earned awards at the Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Marianske Lazne and in the Dusek Competition in Prague. As a soloist and chamber music player, he has performed both at home in the Czech Republic and abroad in France, Germany, Austria, Russia, Switzerland and the U.S. He is the director of the Plzen Conservatory and the chairman of the Committee of the Smetana International Piano Competition in Plzen.
The final competition level of the senior category will be held as an open concert for all to attend, followed by a gala reception. The concert will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014, in the GBPAC.