NTD International Piano Competition Opens 2021 Application Period

Nicolas Giacomelli at the NTD International Piano Competition in New York. (Epoch Times)
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By Catherine Yang

The New Tang Dynasty (NTD) International Piano Competition has announced the details for its sixth competition to be held in New York in 2021.

The competition is renowned for its approach to tradition. The unique repertoire includes music only from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, save for a special piece commissioned especially for the competition.

It has drawn pianists from dozens of countries all around the world since its inception. The last competition, in 2019, attracted hundreds of applicants, and 78 pianists from 28 countries qualified for live rounds in New York.

“Composed between 1600 and 1900, [classical music] was written in [a] complete style, with beautiful melodic lines. There was a spiritual component to it as well: For instance, we know Baroque music was used to serve the church and to glorify God,” celebrated pianist Janara Khassenova said. Khassenova is the competition’s jury member and artistic advisor. NTD believes the music from this period represents the purest form of classical music.

That purity will be what judges are looking for, in addition to the technical brilliance these masterworks require.

“If a pianist puts very genuine thoughts and feelings into their performance, then it will directly enter the audience’s ears: They will feel that energy, and they will be moved,” Khassenova said.

The competition application deadline this year is Sept. 1. The contestants will be announced on Sept. 15, and the preliminary, semifinal, and final rounds in New York will take place Oct. 28 to Oct. 30. On Oct. 31, the Winner’s Concert and the Award Ceremony will take place.

The Gold Award includes a prize of $10,000, the Silver Award includes a prize of $6,000, the Bronze Award includes a prize of $3,000. There are additional prizes to be awarded for the best performance of the commissioned piece, outstanding performance, and honorable mentions.

Live Rounds in New York

The competition then includes three live rounds at a premier venue in New York, to take place this fall. The semifinals, finals, and Winner’s Concert, and Award Ceremony will be broadcast by NTD Television and The Epoch Times to audiences that could reach millions.

In the preliminary round, pianists must perform a toccata by J.S. Bach and an étude by Chopin from a shortlist compiled by the jury.

In the semifinal round, pianists must perform a sonata by Beethoven from the judges’ shortlist, and the special commissioned composition by heart. This year, as in the past, it will be a piece rearranged for piano from a vocal work written by the Shen Yun Performing Arts artistic director.

“It is a special piece of Chinese and Western tradition combined together,” Becky Yao, the jury chair of the competition, said.

Jurist Susan Liu, a piano and Chinese zither virtuoso, is arranging this unique piece. It’s a unique challenge, expressing the melody and meaning from the traditional Chinese music in the language of Western classical music. But it is a rewarding one, she adds.

“When I arrange the piece for the piano, I like to get back to the traditional harmony, the functional harmony,” Liu said.

In the finals, pianists will perform a 40 minute recital with a program of their choice, of music from the Baroque, Classical, or Romantic periods, without repeating pieces they have already performed in the competition.

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