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NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION

"Unlike every other competition, theirs has no eliminations. Eager youngsters don't find themselves playing for 20 minutes the first day, losing and being forced to stop. Instead, over the span of a week, each competitor plays in each of the four rounds and the master classes."

--Peter Goodman, Newsday

 
 NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION

R. Andrew Lepley

 

Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz, Executive Directors of the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, have devoted a lifetime to the musical education of young people. Internationally recognized as one of the most distinguished duo-piano teams of their generation, Stecher and Horowitz are equally renowned for their multi-faceted activities as performers, teachers, composers, and educational consultants – activities that have earned them a unique position in the world of music. Having been co-directors of the Stecher and Horowitz School of the Arts for 39 years, (1960-1999) it was apparent to both principals that the most important years for developing interested young musicians were the pre-teen years and into the early twenties, a good decade of concentrated and formative development. The New York Piano Competition was originally founded on this premise.

The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, a non-profit organization, is an outgrowth of the renowned Stecher and Horowitz School of the Arts which was founded in 1960 in Cedarhurst, New York. Until 1999 the school was Nassau County’s leading conservatory of music, attended by some 15,000 students throughout its history. The Foundation is now dedicated to an expanded concept that seeks to inspire and support outstanding young musicians worldwide.

The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation’s Seventh New York International Piano Competition, which will be held at The Manhattan School of Music in June 2014, will host pianists ages 16-21 from across the globe. The week-long event includes four rounds plus a series of master classes and seminars. In a June 2012 article on the New York International Piano competition in the Wall Street Journal Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim remarked that “what sets it apart from other piano competitions are some unusual rules designed to guarantee that it makes a real difference in the career of a young musician, rather than merely passing judgment on it.” Unique to the New York International Piano Competition is its policy of no elimination; each contestant performed in all four rounds and was judged by a jury of some of the most distinguished members of the music community. Every participant returns home either as a prize-winner or finalist award recipient.

The level of competition has been uniformly high over the event’s  ten-year  history; former winners have gone on to win the Gilmore Young Artist Award, The Juilliard School’s William Petschek Recital Award, the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts at Harvard University, the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, the 2010 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh

Competition, and several to become National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Presidential Scholars. Monetary awards total $40,000, but just as important as the monetary awards are the opportunities for concert and recital appearances that are awarded to winners and finalists. Held every two years, the New York International Piano Competition is dedicated to providing artistic development, educational enhancement, seminars, master classes, and performance opportunities. This year’s jurors included Ian Hobson, Tong-Il Han, Susan Starr, Alan Walker, Jane Coop, and Erik Tawaststjerna.

The internationally lauded Israeli composer Avner Dorman was commissioned by the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation to compose a “required” piece for this year’s competition. Mr. Dorman’s “Three Etudes” was performed by all contestants. Longtime New York Times critic Allan Kozinn wrote a feature story on Mr. Dorman in 2011 in which he noted that Mr. Dorman’s “music works its magic by melding far-flung influences and making them sound natural together. Depending on the score, an inviting neo-Romantic fabric may bear touches of modernist acerbity; vigorous, complex rhythms; themes built on Middle Eastern and Indian modes; Baroque figuration; or the accents of pop and jazz.”

In 2009, the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation announced two major changes in its biennial New York Piano Competition. For the first time the Competition accepted contestant applications from outside the United States effective for the summer of 2010, a change in the procedures of accepting applications only from students (American or foreign) who were pursuing studies in the United States. With this development the 2010 Competition was known as the New York International Piano Competition. In addition, it expanded its age category upwards from 14-18 years to 16-21 years – this affords contestants in the late teens the opportunity to interact musically with promising young adults, serving as a challenging incentive toward greater achievement. The original concept of allowing all contestants to complete their participation without elimination remained the same, fostering the fullest musical interaction between contestants throughout the entire span of the competition. The New York International Piano Competition remains true to its predecessor’s philosophy that the primary goal of a musical competition is to further the musical development of its contestants.