Pianists Chosen For New Seattle Symphony Contest

Nine international pianists have been selected to participate in the final three rounds of the first-ever Seattle Symphony Piano Competition (SSPC), taking place from 15-18 September 2015.

The SSPC is a French-American-themed competition, presented in partnership with Young Concert Artists (YCA) and Washington Performing Arts (WPA), and forms a key part of the orchestra’s drive to ‘promote distinctive emerging pianists eager to embrace innovation, contemporary music and creative programming’.

Qualifying contestants for the inaugural final rounds are Kevin Ahfat and Marika Bournaki (Canada); Kenny Broberg, Reed Tetzloff, Vijay Venkatesh and Sean Yeh (US); and Han Chen, Chuang-Chuang Fang and Peng-Chian Chen (Taiwan). Applicants from around the world submitted audio recordings in spring 2015, which a panel of expert reviewers then whittled down to nine participants for the last three rounds.

The final stages will begin with a recital round on 15 September, for which each contestant will perform three pieces: a jazz-inspired Kenji Bunch special commission called Premonitions, a Ravel solo, and a composition of the contestant’s choosing.

A lucky six pianists will go through to the semi-final, to perform one American and one French piano concerto from a list of competition repertoire. At the grand finals, three pianists will ultimately compete on 18 September, performing either an American or French concerto with orchestra, conducted by Ludovic Morlot.

The overall SSPC winner will take home a cash prize of USD10,000 (€9,000), plus career development opportunities including admission to the semi-finals of the 2015 or 2016 YCA International Auditions, and a consultation with YCA and First Chair Promotion. The winner will also perform at Seattle Symphony’s 2015-16 opening night concert on 19 September, and again during the 2016-17 season.

Pianist and YCA alumnus Jean-Yves Thibaudet will serve as jury chair for the live competition rounds. He will adjudicate alongside Morlot; Seattle Symphony principal cello Efe Baltacıgil; YCA director of artist management Monica J Felkel; WPA director of programming Samantha Pollack; First Chair Promotion project manager James Egelhofer, and Seattle Symphony president and CEO Simon Woods.

All three rounds are open to the public, who are be invited to vote for a special Audience Favorite Award. Free tickets are available via RSVP for the recital and semi-final rounds, whilst tickets to the finals are available for purchase.