by Daniel Hathaway
Piano professor Robert Shannon is eagerly waiting to welcome this year’s participants in the Thomas & Evon Cooper Piano Competition to the Oberlin campus later this week. “This year the lineup is stronger than ever,” Shannon said in a recent telephone conversation. “There’re some impressive people, and the overall level is consistently high.” (Photo: the semifinalists in 2016.)
The biennial piano contest, which alternates with a violin competition, will be fueled by 31 young players from seven different countries (see the roster of competitors and their repertoire here). The 13-18 year-olds have been selected from a field of some 90 applicants who have been drawn to the Cooper event through its reputation alone. “We don’t actively recruit,” Shannon said. “We just publish the announcement and we’re well enough known by now that it just happens. The first year we held the Cooper we had something like 140 pianists apply, but then I think people figured out how challenging it was going to be. We’ve stabilized now at about 90 applicants.”
This year’s competitors include eleven U.S. citizens, seven from China, five from Canada, three from South Korea, two each from Finland and Taiwan, and one from Norway.