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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