How to Apply

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We’re excited to bring to you Virtu(al)oso, a global piano competition designed to provide relief for contestants during these unprecedented times. The virtual competition comes as a thoughtful response to the economic challenges our artists are facing, and offers greater financial support to all contestants selected to compete by equalizing prize money across participants.

Thirty pianists will be selected by a screening jury to compete in two rounds of competitions, which will be prerecorded from five Steinway locations across the globe including Cleveland, New York, London, Hamburg and Beijing. With the help of our artistic partner, Steinway & Sons, audiences can tune in on our website and social channels to view the competition from July 30 – August 9, 2020.

Audiences can help support our goal of bringing financial relief to these amazing musicians by making online donations to their pianists of choice throughout the competition.

See below for information regarding how to apply to the competition.


Apply Here

Competition Highlights

Performances will be broadcast on the Piano Cleveland website from July 30 – August 9, 2020. Content will also be available on various Steinway & Sons social platforms.

All contestants receive a minimum of $1,000 USD to participate.

The top three (3) prize winners receive a minimum of $2,500 USD.

Contestants will be able to receive donations for more prize money from audience members using an online platform.

First Prize Winner will also receive a recording on the Steinway & Sons label and be invited to Cleveland for a solo performance (travel expenses and accommodations to be provided, date TBD).

Application Information

The Competition is open to pianists of all nationalities who will be between the ages of 18 and 32 on August 8, 2020.

Thirty (30) contestants will be accepted to participate in the competition.

Contestants that are chosen to participate will need to travel safely to one of the selected Steinway locations (Cleveland, New York, London, Hamburg, Beijing) in order to record their competition performances. Contestants must travel to/from Steinway locations within stated regional health guidelines.

Recordings must be scheduled July 6 – 24, 2020. Contestants need to be available during those dates.

The competition will consist of two separate rounds: first round (all contestants) and final round (six contestants). Both rounds will be recorded at the same time during July 6 – 24, 2020.

First Round is not to exceed 20 minutes. Final Round is a minimum of 30 minutes, and a maximum of 35 minutes.

Participation in the competition is conditional on a candidate submitting the required documents and recordings (see “Audition Video Recording Requirements” below) by June 15, 2020.

A letter of recommendation for a current teacher will need to be submitted directly to competition officials. Please have your teacher submit their letter recommendation to [email protected]. Your name must be clearly stated in the letter and the subject line of the email.

Application Fee is $35.

No applications will be accepted after 11:59 pm EST on June 15, 2020.

Applicants must have performed with at least two different orchestras as a soloist.

Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Submitted materials will not be returned.

Candidates’ documents and recordings will be assessed by the Screening Jury.

The Screening Jury will admit thirty (30) contestants to compete in the competition.

The list of candidates invited to participate will be made public by July 1, 2020.

Audition Video Recording Requirements

Audition video should be a performance without edits; it can be from a concert, competition, or recording session.

Repertoire is candidates’ choice and should consist of at least two pieces of diverse styles. Performance can be one continuous take consisting of all repertoire or can be submitted as more than one video.

Repertoire used for the audition video may also be used again for the competition recordings that will take place from July 6-24 for selected contestants.

The recording must have been made in 2017 or later. Please submit your video with a date and location of the recording.

Recording should be a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 20 minutes of music.

A recording of the applicant must be submitted using the online platform, Acceptd. If you are unable to upload a video, a YouTube link will also be acceptable and can be inserted into the application.

The recording must be of high technical quality.

The applicant’s face and hands must be clearly visible throughout the recording.

Only solo piano works will be accepted.

Questions? Contact Crystal Carlson, Director of Operations, via email at [email protected].

Schedule of Events

June 15
Application deadline at 11:59 PM EDT

July 1
Announcement of contestants

July 6 – July 24
Selected contestants to record First and Final Round at Steinway locations

July 30 – August 4
First Round: Each contestant performs a solo piano program of 20 minutes

August 5
Announcement of Final Round contestants

August 7
Final Round: Three finalists perform a solo program of 30-35 minutes

August 8
Final Round: Three finalists perform a solo program of 30-35 minutes

August 9
Announcement of winners

Competition Required Repertoire

Repertoire chosen for the competition will be the contestants’ choice. The programs for the first and final round should highlight the contestant’s artistry and also show how they can build a program with diversity of styles. Each round should feature at least two (2) pieces that are diverse styles; the rest of the time can be filled with anything else that the contestant wishes to perform. The jury’s assessment will be based on the quality of the performance, as well as the contestants’ artistry of the selection of their repertoire. Repertoire used for the audition video may also be used for the competition.

First Round is not to exceed 20 minutes.

Final Round is a minimum of 30 minutes, and a maximum of 35 minutes.

Please note: these time limitations are for the music only. This does not include pauses in between pieces.

Rules and Regulations

Thirty (30) contestants will be accepted to participate in the competition and their names will be announced to the public.

The signing of the acceptance form constitutes acceptance by the contestant of all rules and regulations. The original English version of these rules governs all interpretations.

All contestants will receive at least $1,000 for participation.

All works are to be performed from memory and in their entirety. Single movements of a sonata are acceptable and repeats are optional.

Competition performances will be prerecorded due to differences in time zones. However, during the recording process, contestants are only allowed to play through their performances once.

Contestants will not be allowed to edit their performance.

Contestants will be allowed 15-minutes to warm-up before recording their performances at the Steinway Piano Gallery locations.

Repertoire must be different for each round.

Submitted repertoire is subject to review by competition officials.

The order of appearance of pianists will be determined by a drawing conducted by competition officials that will be recorded and made available for viewing online.

Jury members will not be in contact with contestants while such contestants are continuing to compete.

Any jury member who has taught a contestant within the last five years, or who will teach a contestant in the immediate future, or has a family relationship with a contestant, must abstain from voting on that contestant.

Jury members may also waive their vote for personal or professional reasons. All declarations of abstentions will be made the night before the competition begins and will be maintained throughout the competition.

Jury members will not discuss their opinions and decisions regarding proceedings, marks, or rankings for the duration of the competition.

Jury members will vote at the end of the first round and the final round. For the vote following the first round, each of the jurors will submit their top six (6) contestants in order to advance to the next round. The competitors who receive the most votes from the jury will advance to the next round.

To select the top three (3) prize winners, the members of the jury will rank the contestants in order of whom they prefer to be awarded each prize. Should none of the competitors attain a majority of votes, then a further ballot will be held to decide between the competitors with the most votes.

In the event of a tie, another vote will be held for the tied competitors.

All ballots will be written and signed without discussion and submitted to the competition officials for scoring.

The decision of the jury is final and not subject to questions, revisions, or appeal.

The competition will consist of two separate rounds: first round (all contestants) and final round (six contestants).

The names of the candidates for the final round will be announced to the public in performance order without regard to rank. After the final round is completed, the names of the six finalists will be announced in order of rank.

All announced prizes will be awarded.

Prizes may be subject to U.S. income tax laws.

If any unexpected situations which arise in the execution of these guidelines, the Jury Chairman, the Chair of the Board of Directors, and the President will resolve such situations.