News from the Competition

Johansson wins Alaska International Piano-e-Competition

UAF photo by JR Ancheta

Kirsten Pickard
907-474-2417
07/12/14


Peter Friis Johansson, an acclaimed concert pianist from Denmark and Sweden known for his musicality and innovation in both contemporary and classical performance, has won first prize in the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition, the first competition of its kind ever to be held in our state.  The panel of nine international jurors selected Johansson based upon his performances in this competition alone, considering the originality of his interpretation, his technical performance, and his superior musicianship.  As first-prize winner of the competition, Johansson was awarded $30,000 in prize money, a gold medallion designed and handmade by Alaska artists, and performances in Chicago and New York during the grand award ceremony and concert on Saturday evening.  Most notably for Alaska residents, he was also awarded another performance with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, and will perform at their season opener on Sunday, October 5.

Johansson held the attention of the jury and the audience from the first round to the last, winning the special Schubert Prize for his performance in the semi-final round and demonstrating his finely honed collaborative abilities in a chamber music performance with Dr. Bryan Emmon Hall, new concertmaster for the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and term professor at UAF. 

Audience members gasped in delight during his performance of Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ piano concerto with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra in the final round.  Dagmar Romano, a piano competition aficionado and resident of Minnesota who traveled to Fairbanks for the full two week event, said Johansson’s unique phrasing of the music was especially notable, bringing a fresh sound to a familiar piece.

Even audiences watching online were delighted with this final performance, noting the brilliance of his interpretation.  One commenter noted, “All are very good but this is my favorite. He has really captured all of Beethoven – wonderful playing.”

Following Johansson as the first prize winner were Alexey Chernov of Russia, winning second prize, Frank Dupree of Germany, winning third prize, Marianna Prjevalskaya of Spain, winning fourth prize, and Chen Guang of China and Italy, who won the fifth prize.  The competitors’ earlier performances were highlighted during the award ceremony, reproduced precisely on the Yamaha Disklavier CFX PRO concert grand piano provided by Yamaha International for the competition.  The award ceremony was broadcast live on the web and through the Disklavier network, allowing audiences around the world to enjoy the suspense of the announcements and the performances in real time with the audience in Fairbanks.

The award ceremony capped the two-week competition, the first of its kind ever to happen in Alaska.  Efforts are underway by the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra to raise additional funds to purchase the Yamaha Disklavier CFX PRO concert grand piano, a premier internet-connected piano that would allow performances from Fairbanks to be shared around the world, and that would enable unique distance-education opportunities for UAF students.  Community members interested in supporting these efforts can contact the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra at 907-474-5733.

The Alaska International Piano-e-Competition and these community lectures were made possible by contributions from Drs. Paul Jensen and John Lopez of Spine Care Specialists of Alaska, the Fairbanks  Symphony Orchestra, Brian Rogers and Sherry Modrow, anonymous donors, Design Alaska, Yamaha Corporation of America and many more.

Five competitors will proceed to final rounds

These five pianists will continue on to the final rounds of the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition. Photo by Stella Sick.

Kirsten Pickard
(907) 474-2417
07/05/2014

Five competitors have been selected to go on to the final rounds of the Alaska International Piano-e-Compeititon.  Hailing from across the globe, those finalists include:

  1. Chen Guang, China/Italy
  2. Marianna Prjevalskaya, Spain
  3. Peter Friis Johansson, Denmark/Sweden             
  4. Frank Dupree, Germany
  5. Alexey Chernov, Russia

The five finalists will take part in a three-part challenge in next two rounds, playing a second solo recital and demonstrating their collaborative ability with chamber musicians in the third round, and finally playing a full concerto of their own selection with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra in the final two evenings of performance.

Video Game Pianist to headline community events

Several free community events will round out the offerings of the final week of the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition.  Among them is a community clinic with Martin Leung, also known as the Video Game Pianist.  Leung was the subject of a video that went viral in 2006, which showed him playing a complex arrangement of the theme to the Super Mario Bros. video game blindfolded.  Leung studies at the University of Southern California and recently gave a doctoral lecture on the various musical underpinnings of the compositions in the Super Mario Bros. series.  Leung is a clever, playful musician with an accessible style that is sure to appeal to young piano students, teachers, and video game lovers alike. The clinic will take place July 9 at 11:00 am in the McGown Room of the Fine Arts complex.  All community events, including demonstrations of Disklavier technology and master class performances, are free and open to the public.

Three days of competition remain

Tickets are available for purchase online at uaf.edu/piano or at the box office, and cost between $27 and $40 depending on the performance.  A full schedule of performances, community events, live webcasts of the performances and archived video of past performances can also be found on the competition website.

Piano competition jurors name ten semi-finalists

The 10 semi-finalists will go on to compete in the second round on Saturday, July 5 from 12-9:30pm AKDT. Photo by Stella Sick, Musicians in Debut International.

Kirsten Pickard
(907) 474-2417
07/03/2014

After listening to 22 recitals in five days – adding up to more than 24 hours of tinkling ivories and pounding chords – the nine jurors of the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition named the ten competitors who would proceed to the semi-final round from the stage of the Davis Concert Hall on the UAF campus Thursday evening. 

The competitors waited as the jury deliberated, chatting amicably but with an air of tension as they waited to learn their fate in the competition.  As the jurors entered the hall, the competitors and audience fell silent.  The jurors walked onto the stage of the Davis Hall and made their pronouncement – based upon their knowledge, experience and musical tastes, they had selected the competitors who would proceed to the second round.  Their selections were:

  • Chen Guang, China
  • Timur Mustakimov, Russia
  • Marianna Prjevalskaya, Spain
  • Joo Hyeon Park, South Korea
  • Peter Friis Johansson, Denmark/Sweden             
  • Pavel Gintov, Ukraine
  • Hyejin Kim, South Korea
  • Frank Dupree, Germany
  • Soo-Yeon Ham, South Korea
  • Alexey Chernov, Russia

Second Round is a test of skill, musicality and endurance

The ten semi-finalists proceed to the second round of competition on Saturday, July 5, where they are challenged with playing one of Schubert’s last seven sonatas, notoriously challenging pieces that require the utmost of each competitor’s skill, musicality and endurance.  At the conclusion of that round, the ten will be whittled down to five finalists, who will take part in a three-part challenge in the third and the final rounds, playing a second solo recital and demonstrating their collaborative ability with chamber musicians in the third round, and finally playing a full concerto of their own selection with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra in the final two evenings of performance.

Tickets are available for purchase online at uaf.edu/piano or at the box office, and cost between $27 and $40 depending on the performance.  A full schedule of performances, community events, live webcasts of the performances and archived video of past performances can also be found on the competition website.

The Drawing of the Lots

Order of play for first round is established

The 22 competitors of the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition, with jury co-chairs Alexander Braginsky and Eduard Zilberkant, Stella Sick of Musicians in Debut International and Chancellor Brian Rogers, center. UAF photo by JR Ancheta.

Kirsten Pickard
(907) 474-2417
06/28/2014

The 22 competitors of the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition drew their lots to determine the order of performance this afternoon during a sunny picnic welcome on the deck of the Wood Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Prior to the drawing of the lots, two competitors, Nikolay Medvedev of Russia and Moye Chen of China, had withdrawn due to personal conflicts and a family emergency, andwere not in attendance.

Generally subdued, the competitors expressed occasional grimaces after pulling their number.  Though he was smiling, competitor Sejoon Park of Baltimore, Maryland, dropped to his knees and threw his hands in the air after pulling the number 1 from the hat, placing him first on the performance roster.  He was given a strong round of applause, as was Yin Fei Wang of China, who drew number 13.

The order of performance for the first round, therefore, will be:

Sunday, June 29

1. Sejoon Park, USA 
2. Adrian Brendle, Germany
3. Josue Gonzalez, Costa Rica
4. Chen Guang, China/Italy
5. Martin Leung, USA

Monday, June 30

1. Shih-Wei Huang, Taiwan
2. Timur Mustakimov, Russia
3. Marianna Prjevalskaya, Spain
4. Yang Liu, China
5. Joo Hyeon Park, S. Korea

Tuesday, July 1

1. Oxana Schevchenko, Kazakhstan/Russia 
2. Peter Friis Johannson, Denmark/Sweden
3. Yin Fei Wang, China
4. Maria Kharsel, Russia
5. Pavel Gintov, Ukraine

Wednesday, July 2

1. Ilya Maximov, Russia
2. Hyejin Kim, S. Korea
3. Tuomas Kyykhynen, Finland
4. Frank Dupree, Germany
5. Soo Yeon Ham, S. Korea

Thursday, July 3

1. Alexey Chernov, Russia
2. Lindsay Garritson, USA
Judges break to confer
Announcement of the Semi-finalists expected between 4:30-5:30 pm AKDT

Performances for the first round take place in the Davis Concert Hall from 1:00-10:00 pm daily between June 29 and July 3.  Tickets cost $15.00 for adults and $13.50 for seniors, children, and active-duty military.  They can be purchased online at uaf.edu/piano, or in person at the box office.  Commemorative programs are also available for $20 at the box office for music lovers and autograph hounds.

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