In Wednesday’s post, we took an analytical look at the repertory with which this year’s contestants plan to dazzle us and win over the jury during the first two rounds. Today, we’ll run some stats on the contestants themselves. Since pianists don’t have world rankings like tennis players, batting averages like baseball players or other significant measurements of their status coming into a competition like this one, we’ll go for a bit of a demographic overview instead.
The contest is open to pianists between 18 and 30. None of the contestants come in at the lowest end of that range; the youngest is Chun Wang (China) at 19. Two performers, Dmitri Levkovich (Canada) and Martina Filjak (Croatia) qualify as CIPC’s senior citizens, each competing this year at the outer age limit of 30. In between, the age spread is evenly distributed with five 20 year-olds, four each at 25 and 26, three each at 21, 22 & 24 and pairs of competitors are 23, 27, 28 and 29
Korea ranks first as the birthplace of eight contestants. The US, Russia (including one candidate who lists his birthplace as the USSR), China and Ukraine gave rise to a quartet of native pianists each. All the rest represent unique points of origin: Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Turkmenistan, Venezuela and Vietnam. Life after birth is complicated. While most Russian- Korean- and United States-born players, as well as some Europeans, have stayed close to their native soil, there are some exotic combinations like the Ukrainian-born Canadian citizen and the Vietnamese born Australian citizen, both of whom live in the US, the Korean native/citizen who lives in Ireland and the Japanese native/citizen who lives in Russia. Then there are the dual citizens (one born in the US, who is a dual citizen of Australia, where he lives, and another who is a dual citizen in India but who lives in the US).
Many in our pool of contestants, especially the Russians, Chinese and Americans, stuck close to home for their professional training, but the Koreans were world travelers, choosing to study in Ireland, the US, Germany, Austria and Italy. The eighteen contestants who opted for training in the United States at one point or another largely migrated to the east coast for work in New York City (Juilliard, Manhattan School), Rochester (Eastman), Philadelphia (Curtis), and Boston (New England and Boston Conservatories), though others found their way to schools in Texas and Kentucky. Two contestants studied in Cleveland: Dmitri Levkovich (Canada) earned three degrees and Marina Radiushina (USA) won her Artist Diploma at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
There are four familiar faces in the 2009 roster. Dmitri Levkovich was a semifinalist in the 2007 Cleveland Competition, at which Hoang Pham (Australia) won the Mozart Prize, and Istvan Lajko (Hungary) was a participant. Maria Masycheva (Russia) reached the semifinals in Cleveland in 2001.
Even the youngest pianists are old hands at competitions, having placed or participated in a long list of piano scrimmages in all corners of the globe: the Cliburn in Fort Worth, the José Iturbi (both in Los Angeles and Valencia), the Tchaikovsky & Richter in Moscow, the Liszt in Utrecht, the Queen Elizabeth in Brussels, the Busoni in Bolzano, and contests in Paris, Sydney, Cologne, Geneva, Pretoria, Hannover, St. Petersburg, Barcelona, Seoul, Shanghai, New Orleans and Dublin, not to mention Andorra, San Marino and Sioux City. Readers who would like to explore the international phenomenon of music contests in great detail should visit the web site of the World Federation of Music Competitions.
Individual profiles of the contestants are posted on CIPC’s web site, along with photos and lists of the individual repertory choices each candidate has made. One contestant Erik Zuber (USA) has withdrawn, leaving thirty-three in the main draw at press time.
Sunday’s post will take a look at the judges — the Jury and Junior Jury — for the 2009 competition.
Mike Telin contributed to this report.