Don’t expect instant results from the eight judges on the jury of the Cleveland International Piano Competition after each pianist finishes his or her set. Analogies to sports competitions like figure skating begin to break down a bit here. You won’t know who’s going to advance to the eight spots in the semifinals until the first two rounds are completed on August 2nd, but in the meanwhile, lots of notes are going to be taken on all of the notes that are going to be played.
Cleveland’s 2009 judges originally numbered nine, but one had to withdraw due to a family illness. The octet charged with adjudicating the performances of 32 contestants is a distinguished, international panel of pianists who have been around the block a number of times both as contestants themselves and as jurors at other competitions.
Peter Frankl (UK and Hungary) has been a frequent soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra since the Szell era. In addition to serving as head of the jury, he’ll give a master class on August 7 at CIM. Andrea Bonatta (Italy) is a Brahms specialist and serves as the artistic director of the Busoni Competition in Bolzano and as a vice president of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.
Douglas Humpherys (US) is chair of piano at the Eastman School, won the gold medal in the first Gina Bachauer Competition and has been a juror at Bachauer and Hilton Head (as well as a member of the screening jury who selected the 35 pianists originally invited to Cleveland in 2009).
South Korea’s Choong-Mo Kang is a Bach specialist who has served on juries worldwide. Serbian/Croatian jury member Dorian Leljak, who has taught at Yale, has a similar track record both as competitor and juror. Sontraud Speidel (Germany) studied with Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen, and in addition to serving as juror for a long list of competitions, won a Boston Symphony prize for modern music.
Dina Yoffe (Israel & Germany), who also served on the screening jury and will give a master class on August 7, is a veteran juror in Cleveland, having sat on the panel in 2007. Zhang Jin (China) has prepared many students for world wide contests and has received several conservatory and government awards for pedagogy in China.
Shadowing the work of ‘The Eight’ will be ‘The Seven’ — a Junior Jury of young pianists from the region first established by executive director Karen Knowlton at the 2007 Cleveland International Piano Competition after seeing a similar program produce interesting results at a competition in Denmark. The second class of Junior Jurors includes Peter Douglas (16, Dalton High School), Margret Erlendsdottir (15, Hawken School), Linda He (14, Mayfield High School), Arianna Körting (14, West Geauga High School), David Mamedov (15, Mason High School), John Rady (17, Strongsville High School) and Roger Zou (14, Solon High School).
The jury is still out on whether the older or younger jurors will turn out to be the more formidable critics as the drama of competition unfolds. We’ll find out soon.
In the meantime, Bulgarian pianist Evgeni Boshanov has withdrawn from the competition, leaving 32 performers to draw lots at the opening ceremonies Monday at 5 in Mixon Hall at CIM.