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6 piano teams to vie for Bachauer honors

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GINA BACHAUER INTERNATIONAL PIANO TEAMS COMPETITION, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, Thursday and Friday, competition finals today, 2 p.m., free.

For the first time since 1997, the Gina Bachauer competition has included piano teams competition in addition to the traditional individual event.

The teams competition opened this week with 11 teams of five pianists each. The first two rounds took place Thursday and Friday in Libby Gardner Concert Hall, a new venue for the Bachauer Foundation. After the second round on Friday, six teams were selected to go on to the final round to be held this afternoon.

The six finalists are Quintessence from Wisconsin and Illinois; Dancing Phoenix and the Five-Pointed Stars, both from Arizona; and the Rocky Mountain Piano Team, Synergy and the Hansen Piano Team, all from Utah.

The six teams will vie this afternoon for the top three spots and for prize money totaling $9,000.

Judging the competition is an eight-member panel chaired by longtime Bachauer judge Douglas Humpherys. His colleagues on the jury this year are Seymour Bernstein, Susan Duehlmeier, Gennady Dzubenko, Massimiliano Frani (former associate artistic director of the Gina Bachauer Piano Foundation), Thomas Hecht, Yang Ming and Logan Skelton. With the exception of Duehlmeier, the same judges will preside over the solo competition that takes place next week in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.

Teams of five pianists at five pianos is the brainchild of pianist and pedagogue Jane Tan. Her belief is that being part of a team fosters better ensemble playing and improves listening skills. Tan is in Salt Lake City this week attending the competition.

Repertoire for five pianos is naturally somewhat limited. There are very few original works, and the vast majority of the pieces that were played in the past two days have been transcriptions of orchestral works. Most of these were arranged for five pianos by Tan. Jeffrey Shumway of BYU has also transcribed some works, and one of the pieces played Thursday by the Hansen Piano Team, the scherzo movement from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, was arranged by team member Kurt Hansen.

Some of the other works that have been played during the first two days of competition include Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien," Strauss' "Blue Danube" Waltz, Joplin's "The Entertainer" and Khatchaturian's "Sabre Dance."

Unlike the solo competition, which this year is limited to pianists aged 11-13, the teams competition has no age restrictions. The youngest team is the Five-Pointed Stars, four of whose members are between 8 and 9.

E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com