Dubai’s Classic Piano Competition Enters Second Round

Monday, August 23, 2021

35 competitors compete to move on to next stage

On August 15, the hotly-anticipated Classic Piano International Competition launched at the Music Hall of Dubai’s Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel, welcoming numerous talented young pianists from across the globe to participate in a celebration of tenacity, technical excellence and profound musicality. The competition is organised by the Malta-based European Foundation for Support of Culture in collaboration with Dubai’s SAMIT Event Group, and features a highly decorated panel of judges to preside over the event. Each of the participants must bring the very best of their skills to bear as they compete for one of the record-breaking top prizes of €200,000, €50,000 and €25,000, in a competition fought across four rounds and featuring music by distinguished European composers as well as contemporary offerings from the event’s Composer-in-Residence, Alexey Shor

Music competitions are hardly something new, their roots dating back to antiquity before later being brought to Europe on a national scale with France’s 'Grand Prix de Rome', an initiative initially focused on painting and sculpture at its inception in 1663, before later expanding to include music in the 19th century. It was in both Warsaw and America’s thriving arts scene in New York in the 1920s, however, that music competitions in their current incarnation flourished, setting the stage for future such events around the world in both their formats, and their resounding impacts on both the careers of prominent performers and the wider classical music world in general. The latest addition to the prestigious pantheon of such events is the Classical Piano International Competition, an innovative new initiative this year celebrating its second edition in the UAE’s most populous city, Dubai. 

Today marks the beginning of Classic Piano’s second round, with 35 competitors selected to move forward from the event’s first stage. As celebrated pianist and pedagogue, Pavel Gililov, noted at the conclusion of the competition’s opening round: 'The programme was varied, interesting and at a very high level. This competition is the tip of a big iceberg, because various international competitions in different countries have already taken place before it, and only the best have come here, so one shouldn't be surprised at the high level.' Indeed, Classic Piano is noteworthy for its utilising of a unique selection procedure, with the five top-ranked participants from each of the ‘14 Ways to Dubai’ events – a series of fourteen piano competitions in important cultural centres around the world over the last two years – selected to compete in the UAE, guaranteeing a veritable ‘competition of winners’ for the final four rounds. 

Classic Piano is also of significance due to the impressive array of towering musical figures serving on the jury throughout the competition, its members including Dmitri Alexeev (UK), Michel Beroff (France), Jean-Jacques Cesbron (USA), Sergei Edelmann (Belgium), Nikita Fitenko (Russia/USA), Pavel Gililov (Germany/Austria), Jan Jiracek Von Arnim (Germany), Mikhail Khokhlov (Russia), Hae-Young Kim (South Korea), Tomer Lev (Israel), Giuliano Mazzoccante (Italy), Georgs Pelecis (Latvia), Ewa Pobłocka (Poland), Vladimir Ovchinnikov (Russia), Alexander Sokolov (Russia) and Arie Vardi (Israel), with Alexander Tchaikovsky (Russia) representing the illustrious group as Chairman of the Jury. 

'I believe that holding this competition is in a sense a heroic deed. This applies to everyone – first and foremost the contestants, and of course everyone who is involved in organising the competition. It is indeed a miracle.' – Dmitri Alexeev

For the final two rounds of Classic Piano, competitors will perform alongside the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra (ASSO) under the baton of its Founder, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Sergey Smbatyan. The works featured in these closing stages of the event include Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor and Alexey Shor’s Piano Concerto 'Travel Notebook' in the third round, with the fourth and final stage offering competitors a choice of concertos selected from works by Beethoven, Chopin, Grieg, Khachaturian, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.

'It gives me great pleasure to announce the end to a very successful first round of the Classic Piano competition, and I wish the best of luck to our outstanding participants for the stages ahead.' — Konstantin Ishkhanov, President of the EUFSC

The Classic Piano International Competition continues until 4th September. For full details, and to view live streams from the event, see the official website.

By James Cummings

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