Perspectives on the Paderewski Competition in LA

Paderewski Music Society

The semi-final and final rounds of the Third American International Paderewski Piano Competition in Los Angeles are taking place at Loyola Marymount Universityv in Los Angeles from March 21-26, 2022.

Seventy-two contestants between the ages of 16 and 30 from the US, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam applied by submitting video recordings for the preliminary round. These musicians represented such hallowed music institutions as the Juilliard School, Indiana University, Eastman, Colburn School, Beijing and Shanghai Conservatories, Salzburg Mozarteum, Chopin Academy in Wasrsaw, Szymanowski Academy, University of Southern California, Moscow Conservatory, Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music and others.

Although the semi-final round was to include only twenty-five contestants, the jury finally selected twenty-eight pianists to participate in live auditions. Their biographies can be seen at: paderewskimusicsociety.org/2022semifinalists

Wojciech Kocyan interpreting Paderewski during the 2007 Paderewski Celebration at USC. [Photography by Doug Spice, PMC Collection, all rights reserved]

The Paderewski Competition is open to the public and the contestants’ performances at Murphy Recital Hall will also be live streamed on YouTube.  The semi-finals are taking place March 21-23 and the final round will be held on Friday, March 25.  The Winners’ Concert is scheduled for Saturday, March 26. Daily passes start at $30 for in-person concerts and LMU Covid safety protocols will be observed. Tickets are available at paderewskimusicsociety.org.

In addition to the professional infrastructure of Loyola Marymount University and artistic directorship of Dr. Wojciech Kocyan, Clinical Professor of Piano at LMU, Artistic Director, Director of the Paderewski Music Society in Los Angeles and of the Paderewski International Piano Competition in Los Angeles, the Paderewski Competition relies on many dedicated volunteers. One of these volunteers—actually a couple who are longstanding supporters of music at USC, benefactors of the Polish Music Center, and wonderful friends—provided a fascinating and witty inside look at the comings-and-goings of their guest, a semi-finalist in the Competition:

I picked up Sihao Qin at LAX on Sunday morning and we went directly to Loyola to scope out the auditorium and for his rehearsal time of 11:35. Sihao speaks English very well, having attended a school in Kansas City for the last 3 years – the lead instructor there is an Uzbekistanian who won the Van Cliburn competition some time ago.

The auditorium is a small recital hall with very good acoustics. So good, in fact, that the other competitors rehearsing before Sihao seemed to me to be banging away like the pianistic equivalent of ‘can belto’ singers. I talked with one of the organizers who agreed with me but said that they only have three pieces to impress the judges and that’s just the way it’s going to be. One of them chose La Valse as one of his three pieces and his practice style was really hammer and tongs. Sihao has also chosen La Valse and afterwards he told me that the first guy had taught him something—take it a bit easier. I commented that the first-round repertory choices were all pretty ‘heavy’ and the judges might be ready for a little Mozart after a while. Sihao said that’s why he chose some Mozart for his second round – hope he gets through.

The repertory for the first round only requires a Paderewski piece of your choice and two completely open choices. Second round I don’t know yet.

We were only there for the first five of 32 to rehearse, but they all chose the Kawaii over the Steinway. Sihao said the action on the Kawai was very good but the Steinway was somewhat uneven. The Kawaii was also brighter, a bit. So, to home and an afternoon of practice and an early bedtime.

More news from this reporter is still to come—as well as the results of the Competition that will be announced late this week.

Long Live Paderewski!

[Sources: press release, paderewskimusicsociety.org; Photo by Doug Spice, PMC Collection, all rights reserved]