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SMU Meadows School of the Arts and Dallas Chamber Symphony host International Piano Competition, March 12-15, 2014

Young pianists from around the world will participate in competition and SMU master classes

Eighteen young pianists from all over the globe will come to Dallas March 12-15, 2014, to participate in the second annual Dallas Chamber Symphony International Piano Competition. The event, a community partnership between the Dallas Chamber Symphony and SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, will be hosted in SMU’s Owen Arts Center.

The event will consist of three rounds of competition before a distinguished international jury panel, as well as master classes and private lessons from renowned SMU faculty. Twelve pianists have been selected for the master classes taught by Joaquín Achúcarro, professor of piano and Joel Estes Tate Chair, and Carol Leone, associate professor and co-chair of the keyboard department.

All competition rounds and master classes are open to the public; admission is free, but tickets must be reserved in advance. (See details at end of story.)

The first place winner will receive $1,500 and will perform his or her winning concerto with the Dallas Chamber Symphony this fall at Dallas City Performance Hall. Second and third place winners receive $1,000 and $500, respectively.

The pianists chosen by audition for the quarter-finals are from China, Cuba, Russia, South Korea, Thailand and the U.S. Two are SMU Meadows graduate students: Lizhen Wu (China) and Dario Martin (Cuba), both of whom are studying with Joaquín Achúcarro. All of the finalists are professional or pre-professional pianists under age 25, and most have won multiple competitions in their home countries and elsewhere.

A unique feature of the competition is the availability of reduced-size keyboards to participating pianists, thanks to a partnership with Steinbuhler & Company, which pioneered the manufacture of the 15/16 and 7/8 size keyboards some 15 years ago. “Reduced-size keyboards make it possible for pianists with smaller hand spans to perform repertoire that would be difficult, if not impossible, on modern pianos,” said Carol Leone. “SMU was the first university to purchase and study the smaller keyboards in 2000, and we have championed them ever since. This is the first international piano competition to offer that choice to participants, four of whom have said they came specifically for that opportunity.”

The international panel of judges includes South African native Petronel Malan, a concert and recording artist, Grammy nominee and winner of multiple gold medals at international piano competitions; Roger Lord, first prize winner of the major Canadian competitions, international performer and currently professor of piano at the Université de Moncton in Canada; and Deniz Gelenbe, a native of Turkey, hailed by critics in France as one of the world’s best chamber musicians, an international master instructor and adjudicator, and currently head of piano and organ at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.

The competition’s public events are as follows:

Wednesday, March 12: MASTERCLASS with Joaquín Achúcarro and Carol Leone

12-3 p.m.

O’Donnell Hall – Room 2130, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on SMU campus

Six pianists will participate in public piano lessons with professors Achúcarro and Leone. Audiences are welcome to observe.

Thursday, March 13: ROUND 1 – QUARTER-FINALS

9 a.m. – 5:40 p.m.

Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on SMU campus

Each of the quarter-finalists will receive a maximum performance time of 20 minutes in Round 1. Contestants perform their repertoire for piano and orchestra, accompanied by a second pianist who performs the orchestral reduction. Judges may stop the contestant at any time to ask for different movements or sections. Audiences are welcome to observe. Round 1 results will be announced at 6 p.m. The round is free and open to the public, and audience members can enter and exit between contestants at 20-minute increments.

Friday, March 14: ROUND 2 – SEMI-FINALS

9 a.m. – 12:40 p.m.

Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on SMU campus

Each of the 10 semi-finalists will receive a maximum performance time of 20 minutes in Round 2. Contestants perform from their repertoire for solo piano. Judges may stop the contestant at any time to ask for different sections or repertoire. Round 2 results will be announced at 4 p.m. The round is free and open to the public, and audience members can enter and exit between contestants at 20-minute increments.

Friday, March 14: MASTERCLASS with Joaquín Achúcarro and Carol Leone

1-4 p.m.

Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on SMU campus

Six pianists will participate in public piano lessons taught by professors Achúcarro and Leone. Audiences are welcome to observe.

Saturday, March 15: ROUND 3 - FINALS

1-5 p.m.

Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on SMU campus

Each of the five finalists will perform their entire concerto, or piece for piano and orchestra, without interruption, accompanied by a second pianist who performs the orchestral reduction. There are no time limits in the final round. The round is free and open to the public, and audience members can enter and exit between contestants.

Saturday, March 15: ANNOUNCEMENT OF WINNERS & AWARD CEREMONY

6 p.m.

Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on SMU campus

To reserve free tickets for any of the events, visit here. For more information, visit DCS Piano Competition website.

About the Dallas Chamber Symphony

Launched in September 2012, the Dallas Chamber Symphony is the newest and most exciting professional performance ensemble in North Texas. Led by Artistic Director and Conductor Richard McKay, it is comprised of close to 40 of the finest musicians in the Metroplex, all dedicated to building a chamber orchestra that performs a distinctive balance of programs that include underrepresented and standard repertory, as well as high-quality concerts of contemporary music, staged works, and pieces with extra-musical elements, such as film, actors, dancers and narrators. The DCS performs at the world-class, state-of-the-art Dallas City Performance Hall in the flourishing Dallas Arts District. The DCS also provides educational and community programming, including an International Piano Competition at SMU and free pre-concert conversations. For more information, visit Dallas Chamber Symphony.

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