SIPCA 2012 begins

The tenth Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia [ie, not Nova Scotia] has started.

This competition has punctuated my adult life since I attended the first one in my final year of school. It makes me think of those fairy stories where the fairy returns every seven years, though in this case the period has settled to 4. Another myth which comes to mind is the Nietzschean eternal recurrence, but I’m conscious that my perspective changes. When I first went, the competitors were all older than I. Now they all seem so young. Conversely, some of the regulars in the audience seem ageless.

My friend, P, with whom I went to much of the very first competition, told me that she recently showed her son a picture of me taken from about that time. He was shocked. Tell him (I said) his time will come.

I have been to one whole session and two half sessions of round 1. So far, in the sessions that I have attended, there has been more piano playing than music. It’s not that, I’m sure, all of the players are not capable of playing music which would give any hearer pleasure, but competition conditions (including the syllabus requirements, the silence between pieces and the 20-minute slots) and the requirement to “game” the competition can militate against that. Mostly this is because they are either playing too many notes (to show that they can) or because they are playing something which is too hard for them also to allow a margin for the beautiful. I’m told (I wasn’t there for it) that there has been at least one spectacular “bomb” and I saw one player severely afflicted by nerves.

The whole thing is being broadcast on ABCFM. Guy Noble, one of their commentators, describing himself as a lapsed pianist, gave voice to a feeling that I myself have when he remarked on the different experience of the competition for those youngsters for whom it is all new and exciting and those at the upper age limit for this (and many other) competitions for whom it is a final throw of the dice.

Why am I going? There’s something a bit compulsive about it – like watching series 2 of Downton Abbey.

I plan to go to more. The longer programs in the later rounds will, I hope, give more of a chance for the music. And despite my reservations about the competitive element, the event has its own cumulative Affekt.

One Response to “SIPCA 2012 begins”

  1. SIPCA 2012 continued « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] last posting on this topic, I have been to quite a bit of the Sydney International Piano Competition [not Nova […]

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