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Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

Pianist Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu, right of Canada speaks after being named as the winner of the 40,000-euro ($45,000) first prize in the 18th Frederic Chopin international piano competition, a prestigious event that launches pianists’ world careers. Almost 90 pianists from around the globe took part in the 18th edition of the competition that was postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The jury of the 18th Frederic Chopin international piano competition has announced Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu of Canada as the winner of the 40,000-euro ($45,000) first prize in the 18th Frederic Chopin international piano competition that launches pianists’ world careers.

The announcement came early Thursday, just hours after the last among the 12 finalists played a Chopin concerto with the orchestra at the packed National Philharmonic in Warsaw.

The second prize and 30,000 euros ($35,000) went jointly to Alexander Gadjiev, representing Italy and Slovenia, and Kyohei Sorita of Japan, while the third prize of 20,000 euros ($23,000) was awarded to Martin Garcia Garcia of Spain.

Liu’s first reaction was “Oh my god. I don’t know what to say, honestly.”

“We have been dreaming with all these people here for this prestigious stage,” the 24-year-old said in English.

“Being able to play Chopin in Warsaw is one of the best things you can imagine, of course, so I’m truly honored for this award, of course, and for this jury’s trust and for all the warmth I have received in recent days,” Liu said.

High ranking in the renowned competition opens the world’s top concert halls to the pianists and pave the way to recordings with best known record companies.

Held every five years, the competition was postponed from 2020 by the pandemic.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The jury of the Frederic Chopin international piano competition was hearing the last finalists Wednesday in Warsaw before announcing the winner of the 40,000-euro ($45,000) first prize in the prestigious event that launches pianists’ world careers.

The jury will gather for deliberations after the last four of the 12 finalists play a Chopin concerto with the orchestra in their evening concerts. The eight other finalists played Monday and Tuesday.

The verdict is expected late at night at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw.

Jury head Katarzyna Popowa-Zydron has said that apart from being excellent pianists, the participants should also show sensitivity and bring freshness to the music.

“I try to look for a rapport between the performer and Chopin,” Popowa-Zydron said in an interview early in the competition.

Music is a “message from a person and (the musicians) should know what kind of person Chopin was.”

Bowing to their artistry, the 17-member jury allowed two more finalists this year than usual. The competition, held every five years, was postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

The finalists are Leonora Armellini of Italy; Canada’s J.J. Jun Li Bui and Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu; Alexander Gadjiev, representing Italy and Slovenia; Martin Garcia Garcia of Spain; Eva Gevorgyan representing Russia and Armenia; Jakub Kuszlik and Kamil Pacholec of Poland; Japan’s Aimi Kobayashi and Kyohei Sorita; China’s Hao Rao; and Hyuk Lee of South Korea.

Observers noted that the level of the competition was very high this year and said it’s difficult to pick a favorite to win.

All the finalists are “very outstanding artists,” said Aleksander Laskowski, spokesman for the Fryderyk Chopin Institute that organized the competition.

The winner will receive a gold medal and the financial prize funded by the office of Poland’s president, as well as prestigious recording and concert contracts.

The second prize is worth 30,000 euros ($35,000,) third prize is 20,000 euros ($23,000,) and the fourth is 15,000 euros ($17,000.) There are also prizes for the fifth, sixth and seventh place as well as other awards for the finalists, funded by Poland’s government, music institutions and by private donors.

Among previous winners are Maurizio Pollini of Italy, Argentina’s Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson from the United States, Poland’s Krystian Zimerman and Artur Blechacz, and Seong-Jin Cho of South Korea.

Chopin, Poland’s best known and beloved classical music composer and pianist, was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw to a Polish mother and a French father. He left Poland at 19 to broaden his musical education in Vienna and then in Paris, where he settled, composing, giving concerts and teaching the piano. He died on Oct. 17, 1849, in Paris and is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery. His heart is at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.

The auditions can be followed live on the Chopin Institute YouTube channel and on Polish state radio.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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