SALT LAKE CITY — When it came time to select the 53 young pianists from around the world who will compete for the title of Gina Bachauer Gold Medalist in two competitions this month, said Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation public relations coordinator Ruby Chou, members of the organization went to hear the musicians perform on their own turf.
“You hear a lot of competitions where the competitors have to submit recordings or videos,” Chou said in an interview with the Deseret News. “And so we decided, these kids (are) putting so much time and effort into this endeavor that the least we could give them is our actual time.”
Auditions were held in 11 cities, Chou said, including Barletta, Italy; Yerevan, Armenia; Hamburg, Germany; Moscow; New York; Beijing; Shanghai; Seoul, South Korea; Hong Kong; Tokyo; and Salt Lake City. Twelve countries will be represented in the competition, Chou said, and more than $50,000 will be awarded.
In each competition, the musicians will perform two different 25-30 minute solo recitals in two rounds, with five finalists advancing to the final round.
The Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition, for musicians ages 11-14, will be held June 13-18 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. On June 18, the finalists will perform a concerto movement with a piano accompaniment, according to a news release.
Musicians ages 15-18 will compete in the Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition, which runs June 21-28. The first two rounds will take place at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, but the final round will be held at Abravanel Hall on June 28 as each finalist performs a concerto movement accompanied by the Utah Symphony, according to the news release.
“These kids might be young, but they play at an incredibly mature level and they have so much to say with their music,” Chou said.
Among the competitors are four with Utah ties. Competing in the Junior division are Richard Sheng, 12, who is from Pocatello, Idaho, but attends lessons in Logan; and John Zhao, 14, from Salt Lake City. Competing in the Young Artists division are Junhao Wang, 15, from Salt Lake City; and Joseph Buck, 17, from Spanish Fork.
“It’s always been something like a dream of mine,” Wang said in an interview with the Deseret News. “I’ve visited the Bachauer many times. I never thought I’d reach this level, and the fact that I’m here now is astonishing, really.”
Performance schedules for both competitions are available at bachauer.com.
“You can find out what they’re playing on our website and see what you're interested in and then come for those,” Chou said. “I’ve noticed a lot of our audience members will come for the first day, and then what draws them back is the actual pianists.”
The Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation is currently celebrating its 40th year. Founded in 1976 by Paul Pollei, the organization has seen about 1,500 pianists compete and has awarded more than $500,000, Chou said.
If you go …
What: Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition
When: June 13-18
Where: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South
How much: Daily passes are $20 for general, $15 for seniors and $8 for students; competition passes are $75 for general, $60 for seniors and $30 for students
What: Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition
When: June 21-28
Where: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South; and Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple
How much: Same pricing as Junior competition except for final round, for which daily passes are $35 for general, $25 for seniors and $15 for students