The 10th Bösendorfer and Yamaha USASU International Piano Competition was held Jan. 3–8 at the Arizona State University School of Music, Dance and Theatre, with Rachel Breen, Roman Fediurko and Seokyoung Hong taking first place in their respective categories.
The competition attracted a total of 295 pianists from 24 different countries, with 43 selected to perform in the semifinal and final rounds. Prizes included more than $50,000 in cash awards and recital and recording performance opportunities for the top winners.
“Our competition has become one of the leading piano competitions in the world today,” said Baruch Meir, who is founder, president and artistic director of the competition in addition to a Bösendorfer concert artist and associate professor of piano at ASU. “Many of our competition winners have gone on to develop major musical careers. We are proud to assist these young pianists in achieving their dreams while focusing the musical world’s attention on Arizona. Our selected competitors come from some of the worlds’ leading music institutions, including Juilliard, Yale, Seoul National University, the Royal College of Music, as well as Arizona State University.”
The competition is divided into three individual competitions — the Bösendorfer competition for pianists aged 19–32, Yamaha Senior Competition for pianists aged 16–18, and the Yamaha Junior Competition for pianists aged 13–15.
First prize in the Bösendorfer competition was awarded to Rachel Breen, 26, from the United States. Breen received the $15,000 David Katzin Award and gold medal. She will make a professional recording in Yamaha Artist Services in New York City and perform as a guest recitalist for the Oracle Piano Society in Arizona.
Breen said that until she was 11, she taught herself to play piano by watching online YouTube videos of her idol, famed pianist Martha Argerich. At 16, she entered the Juilliard School of Music and continued her studies to earn her master’s degree at Yale University. She is currently studying at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media Hannover in Germany, where she previously studied with pianist Lars Vogt.
Young Sun Choi, 29, from the Republic of Korea, won second place and received the $10,000 Phyllis Chiat Award and silver medal. She was also awarded the $1,500 Mary Jane Trunzo Audience Favorite Award, selected by the audience during the semifinal round through the competition app. Choi began playing the piano when she was 6 years old and is currently studying with Arnaldo Cohen at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she serves as an associate instructor.
Third prize was awarded to 21-year-old pianist Dohyun Lee, from the Republic of Korea. He received the $5,000 Amar Master Award and bronze medal. The Amar Master award is donated in memory of Master by his wife, Betty Master, an alumna of the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre. Dohyun is pursuing his Bachelor of Music at the Manhattan School of Music with Marc Silverman.
In the Yamaha Senior Competition, Roman Fediurko, 18, from Ukraine, received the $5,000 Burns-Addona Award and the gold medal. Fediurko relocated to Austria in 2022 and is currently studying with Professor Milana Chernyavska at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.
Second prize was awarded to Seungmin Shin, 18, from the Republic of Korea, who received $2,000 and the silver medal. She is currently an undergraduate piano student at Seoul National University studying with Aviram Reichert.
The $1,000 prize and bronze medal went to Haruki Takeuchi, 16, from the United States. He also won the $250 Yehuda Meir memorial award for the most artistic performance of an etude by Chopin and the $250 award for the best performance of a piece by a BIPOCBlack, Indigenous, people of color or female composer in the Yamaha Junior and Senior Division. Takeuchi is a student of David Northington’s.
In the Yamaha Junior Competition, Seokyoung Hong, 15, from the Republic of Korea, took home the $4,000 Addona-Burns Award and the gold medal. Hong is a student at the New England Conservatory preparatory school, where he studies with Professor HaeSun Paik.
Andrew Sijie Li, 15, from Canada/Hong Kong, won the $2,000 prize and the silver medal. He began studying piano when he was 4 years old and is currently under the tutelage of professors Wha Kyung Byun and Dang Thai Son at the New England Conservatory preparatory school.
Xinran Shi, 13, from the United States, received the bronze medal and the $1,000 Linda and Sherman Saperstein Award. Shi began her musical journey when she was 4 years old and currently studies with Hans Boepple. She is a 2020–22 Young Scholar of Lang Lang International Music Foundation.
In addition to the medals, special awards recipients from the competition were also announced.
An award of $1,000 for the best performance of a work by a French composer and the Yehuda Meir memorial award of $250 for the most artistic performance of an etude by Chopin went to Jiyoung Kim, from the Republic of Korea, in the Bösendorfer competition. Kim studies at the University of Music, Drama and Media Hannover with Antti Siirala.
The Sarra and Emmanuil Senderov Award of $500 for the most outstanding performance of a composition by a Russian composer went to Rachel Breen, from the United States, in the Bösendorfer competition and Roman Fediurko, from Ukraine, in the Yamaha competition.
Dohyun Lee, from the Republic of Korea, won the Sangyoung Kim Award of $1,000 for the most outstanding performance of a virtuoso work in the Bösendorfer competition.
Shiyu Liu, from the People’s Republic of China, received a $1,000 award for the most outstanding Arizona pianist, sponsored by National Society of Arts and Letters Arizona Chapter. Liu is a doctoral student of Meir’s at Arizona State University.
This year’s jury included Aviram Reichert, a Cliburn International Piano Competition bronze medalist and professor of piano at Seoul National University; Inna Faliks, Yamaha Artist and professor of piano at the University of California, Los Angeles; Roberta Rust, a recording artist and internationally renowned pianist from Lynn University in Florida; and Robert Hamilton and Baruch Meir from the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre.
The biennial competition is hosted by the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre in collaboration with the Arizona Young Artist Committee.
“Our school is proud to host this biennial forum for the exchange of creative ideas among leading pianists, young artists and keyboard enthusiasts in our state-of-the-art Katzin Concert Hall,” said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.
“Collectively, these musicians represent close to 10 million hours of practice and performance — meaning we are hosting some of the best musicians in the world,” said Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “It is an honor to watch them perform as they bring to life rich and complex compositions that have inspired music lovers across time and place.”
The competition concluded with a Jan. 8 Winners’ Recital and Awards Ceremony in ASU’s Katzin Hall. All the competition winners and special award recipients performed and received their awards. The winners were presented with medals individually handcrafted and designed by competition sponsor OT Jewelers of Mesa, Arizona.
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