SIPCA 2016 – the Empire strikes back

The jury for next year’s Sydney International Piano Competition (Australia) has been announced.

The non-voting chairman of the jury did not require announcement as that is Piers Lane, the competition’s artistic director. Lane lives in and works from London.

The voting jurors are as follows:

Nikolai Demidenko – Russian pianist, long resident in the UK; he has performed in Australia relatively often and has been well received here. No relation to Helen. Probably the leading pianist on the jury. He has a long-standing association with the Hyperion label, for which Lane also records.

Hamish Milne – sometime colleague of Piers Lane at the RAM; oldest member of the jury (born 1939). Known as Medtner specialist; Hyperion artist; has come out for the Festival of Chamber Music which Lane has directed at Townsville for some years.

Noriko Ogawa. Born, Japan 1962. Leeds placegetter early in career. Records for BIS; career otherwise in London/Europe and Japan. Musical friend and colleague of Lane.

Sa Chen (strictly: Chen Sa). Born 1979, Chongqing, China. Youngest competitor and fourth place getter at 12th Leeds competition; studied since in London and then at Hanover under Arie Vardi. Other prizes 2000, 2005.

Timothy Walker – Australian arts manager now GM of the London Philharmonic. A concerto appearance with that orchestra (subject to negotiation) is offered as one of the engagements for the first prize-winner.

So that’s 5 based in London or possibly in its English hinterland.

The 2 others are:

Carl Vine – needs little introduction to Australians; wrote a piano concerto first performed by Lane; Musica Viva bigwig (Musica Viva has in the past offered gigs to prizewinners and could well again – I haven’t checked.)

Mira Yevtich – the dark horse, to me at least. Serbian-born, Moscow-educated pianist who saw out some of the 1990s at the Australian Institute of Music (aka Sydney Guitar School) in Sydney and set up the (now possibly dormant) Southern Highlands Piano Competition at Bowral and Canberra; co-founder (with V Gergiev, no less – but presumably nothing there can be founded without his “co-“) of a Mariinsky Piano Festival, engagements at which are offered to some prize winners, subject to the usual caveats. Possibly back in Europe now. Obscure trivia: she taught the young Andrew Goodwin piano and encouraged him to go to Moscow where, realising he couldn’t cut the mustard pianistically, he switched to voice and ended up landing on his feet.

The number of jurors is down to 7 [see update below] – that’s an economy [a full 9 now appointed]. As to the quality, I couldn’t presume to judge. It seems to me that there are fewer jurors from a jury-circuit (in the past there was always at least a suspicion of an element of “You invite me onto your jury and I’ll invite you onto mine”). The connections with Lane are mostly pretty self-evident. More interesting to me is the London-centric selection – which may, of course, just be a reflection of the connections with Lane.

Update: December

Two further jurors have been appointed, bringing the number back up to 9. The further jurors are Orli Shaham and Ewa Kupiec. Both have appeared before in Sydney – Shaham with the SSO (and her husband, David Roberton) and Kupiec with the Tasmanian Symphony playing Chopin. Their appointments dilute the London-centricism and so rather spoil the title of this post.

A message from the Competition says:

“We are very excited about the calibre of judges on next year’s panel and know that the competitors will be under tough scrutiny.”

 

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