About Piano Cleveland

5 Things to Expect from Our First Virtual Competition

July 13th 2020

Want to watch? Go to our homepage, pianocleveland.org. All sessions begin at 7 pm EDT, and are rebroadcast the next day at 7 am EDT and 2 pm EDT. When you get to our website, click the ”play” button and the stream will start when the broadcast begins.

As many of you know, the COVID-19 pandemic forced all live musical performances to be cancelled for the foreseeable future. While this meant that we had to postpone our beloved Cleveland International Piano Competition to 2021, we wanted to create an event this summer that would allow young pianists the opportunity to perform, win prizes AND provide incredible musical experiences for our global audience.

As a result, we came up with Virtu(al)oso, an online global piano competition that does not require long-distance travel for our contestants, but still celebrates the incredible artistry of these young musicians.

Our tagline, “a global competition for artist relief,” comes from our commitment to supporting artists during these challenging times. To signify this commitment, we have intentionally distributed prize money for Virtu(al)oso more equally than in traditional competitions. This structure allows us to provide financial relief to all participants, many of whom have likely lost months of income due to cancelled performances.

And, for the first time in any piano competition, we are encouraging our audience members (who are able) to provide additional financial support for our contestants. Audience members will be able to donate to our Contestant Fund to support all contestant prizes or may choose to donate directly towards the prize of a specific performer.

Virtu(al)oso is our first-ever online piano competition, and we know that you may have a lot of questions. So here are five things you can expect when watching Virtu(al)oso.

1. Breathtaking musical performances by the world’s best emerging pianists

Like the Cleveland International Piano Competition, Virtu(al)oso will present young musicians of the highest artistic caliber. Our esteemed screening jury selected these 30 pianists from an impressive 158 applicants, a rigorous process that guarantees the incredible level of the competition.

Again similar to CIPC, our contestants are from all over the world – 18 countries total. How did we do that during the pandemic, you may ask? Well, we are very grateful to be partnering artistically with Steinway & Sons, who have been longtime supporters of Piano Cleveland. Steinway has graciously provided pianos and spaces in Cleveland, New York, London, Hamburg, and Beijing for our chosen contestants to pre-record their competition performances. As a result, our contestants do not have to risk traveling significant distances to participate. Our full health and safety guidelines can be found here.

Our 30 contestants have chosen a wide diversity of repertoire to perform – from well-known pieces by Bach, Rachmaninoff and Beethoven to lesser known works by Florence Price. Some are even performing their own compositions!

You will be able to watch all of their First Round performances from July 30 – August 4 at 7pm EDT on the homepage of pianocleveland.org or on our Facebook page. The Final Round of six pianists will be broadcast on August 7 and 8 at 7pm EDT.

2. Exceptional audio-video quality

We are thrilled to be working with Mark Dumm as our Video Production Director. A violinist with The Cleveland Orchestra and long-time partner of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, Mark brings his extensive experience in recording previous competitions and many classical music performances to bear on this new virtual project.

In addition to personally recording contestant performances in our Cleveland location, Mark is overseeing a team of recording engineers in New York, London, Hamburg, and Beijing, respectively, all of whom share a wealth of experience in the piano recording world. Through Mark’s guidance, each engineer will be using the same camera angles, number of cameras, and equivalent-level equipment to ensure both the highest quality and equity across all five locations.

3. The chance to support our contestants

We know that many of our audience members want to be able to support musicians during these particularly challenging times. Virtu(al)oso is unique in providing audience members with an opportunity to financially support their favorite contestant(s) during a competition. If you have a favorite contestant or are moved by a performance, you’ll be able to donate directly towards their prize, thereby increasing the amount that they may receive at the end of the competition. You can donate to your favorite contestant through their contestant page, or by clicking their name on our donate page here.

In addition to supporting our contestants financially, you will be able to send well-wishes or congratulations to contestants right from the streaming page on our website. Plus, you can vote for your favorite finalists to win the Audience Prize. Voting will be available on our website during the Final Round on August 7 and 8.

4. Get to know our jury and contestants – virtually

We know that it can be hard to feel connected to our contestants and each other through this unfamiliar virtual format. But you can expect many ways to stay connected throughout the competition, even if we can’t be physically together.

First, each broadcast will feature short videos to get to know our contestants and jurors in their own words. Contestants will share about their passion for piano and a bit about their program before their performances. During intermission, you will learn more about our incredible jury and be treated to engaging musical facts by the presenter of Living the Classical Life and our good friend, Zsolt Bognar.

And be sure to follow us on Facebook (@pianocleveland) and Instagram (@piano_cleveland) for more fun facts (and fun photos!) from our contestants.

5. Fun surrounding events for the whole family

Like our big competition, we have created some engaging (virtual) surrounding events for Virtu(al)oso that we hope you can join us for. These include:

  • Virtu(al) PianoKids – Thursday, July 16 – Wednesday, August 5 at 11:30 am EDT
    Join Admiral Emily and Captain Joe for a musical world tour! Through nine short videos, children (ages 3-8) will be introduced to core musical concepts through a global tour of our partner locations. There will be listening, crafting, dancing, and fun for the whole family. Click here to learn more. Be sure to tune in for our LIVE celebration on Wednesday, August 5 at 11:30 am EDT
  • Opening Ceremony – Wednesday, July 29 at 7 pm EDT
    Zsolt Bognar and Yaron Kohlberg will host an exciting opening ceremony that introduces our contestants and brings well-wishes from pianists, music leaders, and celebrities around the world. The ceremony will also feature a special performance by pianist Omri Mor.
  • Awards Ceremony – Sunday, August 9 at 7 pm EDT
    You won’t want to miss the big announcement of our winners, as they’ll be performing encore pieces recorded especially for the ceremony!
  • Jury Roundtable – Saturday, August 15 at 11 am EDT
    Five of our six illustrious jury members will join in conversation with Yaron to discuss their experience judging in a virtual competition, their advice for developing pianists, and the future of the performing arts in these challenging times. Click here for more information.

We are looking forward to (virtually) seeing many of you at Virtu(al)oso!

Have more questions? Feel free to email [email protected] and we would be happy to get back to you.

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Eva Gevorgyan

Critics rave at her “emotional eloquence and impeccable technique” combined with all “the important features of a mature master” (ICMA): 18-year old Armenian pianist Eva Gevorgyan has quickly established herself as one of the most promising talents in the pianistic world.

Eva Gevorgyan has performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, Russian National Orchestra, State Academic Symphony Orchestra “Evgeny Svetlanov”, Canton Symphony Orchestra, Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Malta Philharmonic and others. She has already performed at major concert venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle, the Mariinsky Concert Hall, Moscow Conservatory Great Hall, and KKL Lucerne. Eva has participated in the Verbier Festival, Duszniki International Chopin Piano Festival, Stars of the White Nights Festival, Eilat Chamber Music Festival, Palermo Classica Festival, the Perugia Piano Festival, ClaviCologne Festival and Klassik vor Acht, Jeune Chopin à Cannes, Ferrara Piano Festival, Elena Cobb Star Prize Festival, Fränkische Musiktage Alzenau and others. In January 2020 Eva was invited to perform in Yerevan in front of the President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian and his spouse. At the Alto Adige Festival she performed in the presence of Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella.

Eva has appeared with such conductors as Vladimir Spivakov, Lawrence Foster, Vasily Petrenko, Valery Gergiev, Alexander Sladkovsky, Roberto Beltrán-Zavala, Eduard Topchjan, Dimitris Botinis, Piotr Gribanov, Tigran Hakhnazaryan, Ruth Reinhardt, Anatoly Levin, Ilmar Lapinsh, and others.

At the XVIII International Chopin Competition in Warsaw Eva Gevorgyan was the youngest finalist. Evgeny Kissin chose Eva Gevorgyan as a scholar of the 2020 Klavierfestival Ruhr. Eva was also an ICMA Discovery Award winner at the 2019 International Classical Music Awards. She is a grand-prix winner of the Russian National Orchestra Competition in 2021. In total, Eva has received awards at more than forty international competitions for piano and composition in the United States, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, and Russia among others, including First Prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists (incl. special prize for the best interpretation of Bach and Canton Symphony Orchestra Prize), First Prize at the Robert Schumann Piano Competition in Dusseldorf, Second Prize and the Press Award at the Cliburn Junior International Piano Competition, Grand Prix and special prize for best Chopin interpretation at the Chicago International Music Competition, and First Prize at the Jeune Chopin International Piano Competition in Martigny. She has been a laureate and received five special prizes at Moscow’s Grand Piano International Competition. Eva also won First Prizes at the Chopin International Piano Competition for Young Pianists in Szafarnia, Poland, and Portugal’s St. Cecilia International Piano Competition, and won the Grand Prix at the International Piano Competition of Giuliano Pecar in Gorizia, Italy. Eva was awarded the Junior Prize (City Prize) at the Eppan Junior Piano Academy (Italy).

Eva is a Young Yamaha Artist. She received a scholarship from the International Academy of Music in Liechtenstein and participates regularly in the intensive music weeks and activities offered by the Academy. She also holds scholarships from YerazArt Foundation, Foundation Artis Futura, and from the Armenian Assembly.

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John Zion

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Gabriela Montero

Gabriela Montero’s visionary interpretations and unique compositional gifts have garnered her critical acclaim and a devoted following on the world stage. Anthony Tommasini remarked in The New York Times that “Montero’s playing had everything: crackling rhythmic brio, subtle shadings, steely power…soulful lyricism…unsentimental expressivity.”

Recipient of the prestigious 2018 Heidelberger Frühling Music Prize, Montero’s recent and forthcoming highlights include debuts with the New World Symphony (Michael Tilson Thomas), Yomiuri Nippon Symphony in Tokyo (Aziz Shokhakimov), Orquesta de Valencia (Pablo Heras-Casado), and the Bournemouth Symphony (Carlos Miguel Prieto), the latter of which featured her as Artist-in-Residence for the 2019-2020 season. Montero also recently performed her own “Latin” Concerto with the Orchestra of the Americas at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie and Edinburgh Festival, as well as at Carnegie Hall and the New World Center with the NYO2. Additional highlights include a planned European tour with the City of Birmingham Symphony and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; a second tour with the cutting edge Scottish Ensemble, this time with Montero’s latest composition Babel as the centrepiece of the programme; her long-awaited return to Warsaw for the Chopin in Europe Festival, marking 23 years since her prize win at the International Chopin Piano Competition; and return invitations to work with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony, Jaime Martin and the Orquestra de Cadaqués for concerts in Madrid and Barcelona, and Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada.

Celebrated for her exceptional musicality and ability to improvise, Montero has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras to date, including: the Royal Liverpool, Rotterdam, Dresden, Oslo, Vienna Radio, and Netherlands Radio philharmonic orchestras; the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Zürcher Kammerorchester, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and Australian Chamber Orchestra; the Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston, Atlanta, Toronto, Baltimore, Vienna, City of Birmingham, Barcelona, Lucerne, and Sydney symphony orchestras; the Belgian National Orchestra, Württembergisches Kammerorchester.

A graduate and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Montero is also a frequent recitalist and chamber musician, having given concerts at such distinguished venues as the Wigmore Hall, Kennedy Center, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Cologne Philharmonie, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Herkulessaal, Sydney Opera House, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Lisbon Gulbenkian Museum, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, Seoul’s LG Arts Centre, Hong Kong City Hall, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, and at the Barbican’s ‘Sound Unbound’, Edinburgh, Salzburg, SettembreMusica in Milan and Turin, Lucerne, Ravinia, Gstaad, Saint-Denis, Violon sur le Sable, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Rheingau, Ruhr, Trondheim, Bergen, and Lugano festivals.

Montero is also an award-winning and bestselling recording artist. Her most recent album, released in autumn 2019 on the Orchid Classics label, features her own “Latin” Concerto and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, recorded with the Orchestra of the Americas in Frutillar, Chile. Her previous recording on Orchid Classics features Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and her first orchestral composition, Ex Patria, winning Montero her first Latin Grammy® for Best Classical Album (Mejor Álbum de Música Clásica). Others include Bach and Beyond, which held the top spot on the Billboard Classical Charts for several months and garnered her two Echo Klassik Awards: the 2006 Keyboard Instrumentalist of the Year and 2007 Award for Classical Music without Borders. In 2008, she also received a Grammy® nomination for her album Baroque, and in 2010 she released Solatino, a recording inspired by her Venezuelan homeland and devoted to works by Latin American composers.

Montero made her formal debut as a composer with Ex Patria, a tone poem designed to illustrate and protest Venezuela’s descent into lawlessness, corruption, and violence. The piece was premiered in 2011 by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Montero’s first full-length composition, Piano Concerto No. 1, the “Latin“ Concerto, was first performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with the MDR Sinfonieorchester and Kristjan Järvi, and subsequently recorded and filmed with the Orchestra of the Americas for the ARTE Konzert channel.

Winner of the 4th International Beethoven Award, Montero is a committed advocate for human rights, whose voice regularly reaches beyond the concert hall. She was named an Honorary Consul by Amnesty International in 2015, and recognised with Outstanding Work in the Field of Human Rights by the Human Rights Foundation for her ongoing commitment to human rights advocacy in Venezuela. She was invited to participate in the 2013 Women of the World Festival at London’s Southbank Centre, and has spoken and performed twice at the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters. She was also awarded the 2012 Rockefeller Award for her contribution to the arts and was a featured performer at Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Inauguration.

Born in Venezuela, Montero started her piano studies at age four with Lyl Tiempo, making her concerto debut at age eight in her hometown of Caracas. This led to a scholarship from the government to study privately in the USA and then at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Hamish Milne.