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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 2:25 am 
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Thank you, Richard, Andrew, and Rainer! And thanks for watching, Andrew and Rainer!!! :)

I decided to bring my music up to the piano at the last minute. I heard other competitors say that they were going to do that, and so that's why I did it. And I am glad that I did!! I didn't look up at the music except for one or two seconds when I had a little stumble and looked up, found my place right away, and then kept going. If my music wasn't up on the stand, it could have been a disaster; I would have been floundering around trying to figure out how to keep going.

And the reason I was able to keep a 'stony face' was that I got a headache right when I started playing - about 30 seconds into the piece. And I'm talking a very, very bad headache - like someone stuck a knife into my brain. My head was throbbing; I thought I was going to pass out at any minute. Never have I had a headache like that! I get normal ones once in a while, but this was different. Don't know what was going on, probably just stress or something, but I sure was glad I got to the end of the piece!!

So that's it...tomorrow I go and get to sit in the audience the whole day and do nothing but relax and watch the other competitors. Ahhhh... :)

p.s. Rainer...if...and that's a big IF I advance into the second round (HIGHLY DOUBTFUL!!), there is no Mompou on my list this time....

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 12:23 am 
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pianolady wrote:
And the reason I was able to keep a 'stony face' was that I got a headache right when I started playing - about 30 seconds into the piece. And I'm talking a very, very bad headache - like someone stuck a knife into my brain. My head was throbbing; I thought I was going to pass out at any minute. Never have I had a headache like that! I get normal ones once in a while, but this was different. Don't know what was going on, probably just stress or something, but I sure was glad I got to the end of the piece!!


I always take painkillers before going on stage. A concert grand fully open can make a lot more noise than you are used to when practicing, plus there is stage lighting to consider, to say nothing of stress.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 2:35 am 
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andrew wrote:
pianolady wrote:
And the reason I was able to keep a 'stony face' was that I got a headache right when I started playing - about 30 seconds into the piece. And I'm talking a very, very bad headache - like someone stuck a knife into my brain. My head was throbbing; I thought I was going to pass out at any minute. Never have I had a headache like that! I get normal ones once in a while, but this was different. Don't know what was going on, probably just stress or something, but I sure was glad I got to the end of the piece!!


I always take painkillers before going on stage. A concert grand fully open can make a lot more noise than you are used to when practicing, plus there is stage lighting to consider, to say nothing of stress.


Now you tell me! :) Oh well, another lesson learned so thanks for that, Andrew! Next time.... :wink:

Also, I just found out that I did not advance into the semi-finals.

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 11:05 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Also, I just found out that I did not advance into the semi-finals.


That's a pity, but you do have to bear in mind that "amateur" contests aren't always 100% truly amateur. I had a chat with my teacher about this a few years back when I was contemplating playing in one, and he said that the definition of amateur for competition purposes tends to be along the lines of "does not earn a living from music performance or teaching" - he wasn't very flattering about this definition. The result of this is that you get some competitors who have gone through the full college/conservatory training system and emerged at the end to in effect be budding professionals, but who then change career and go and do something else for a living. Not wishing to detract from some of the fine playing I heard, but there were performers in your group who sounded professionally trained and whose resumés suggested they were in that category. I thought you should be very proud of your performance, especially when you've done little playing in public.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 11:24 am 
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True, a lot of these people are not amateurs by any reasonable definition, and a true amateur (one without years of professional training) doesn't stand a chance against them in a competition. It will be hard to draw a clear line of course. In any case it gives a good 'real' amateur the chance to perform in public and that is good.

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 3:14 am 
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Thank you for saying that last thing, Andrew. :) I still don't really know how I played because I have not seen the video; it's not up on the website site. I'm sure I'll hate it though. At least I can say that I listened to all the other competitors and I was not the worst one. And honestly I was a little surprised by a couple people who advanced into the semi-finals - I didn't think they were that good. Without naming names or pieces (which would give things away), one person played a Grieg piece that I know well except he/she slowed down drastically on the hard part. Another person played a Gershwin piece I know well but he/she missed a bunch of notes because of playing to fast. And another person, although he/she played the pieces nicely, they were relatively easy pieces. But those three people advanced anyway. I'm a bit discouraged, but nothing I can do about it. And out of the 63 competitors, 24 had formal training and have degrees in piano performance. I'm pretty sure many others do too, they just didn't put that information in their bios. One person I was talking to today said there is an amateur piano competition in Texas (I think) with the rule that competitors can hold no degrees in music whatsoever.

Tomorrow I signed up to play in an impromptu recital - no judges in the audience, just the other competitors. Still a little nerve-wracking, but I don't think I'll get that 'knife-in-my-brain' headache again. ( :lol: I know, that sounds so dramatic, but it's an accurate description.... :lol: ). Also, I forgot to mention that I met up with another PS artist - Mark Hensley, who played very nicely. And Riley Tucker was actually in the audience when I played on Wednesday but I didn't know it. He and I are planning on meeting up again on Sunday; we're both hoping to rub elbows with some of the famous pianists that are in town for a piano festival in Symphony Center. I am going to bring my camera.... :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 10:47 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Thank you for saying that last thing, Andrew. :) I still don't really know how I played because I have not seen the video; it's not up on the website site. I'm sure I'll hate it though. At least I can say that I listened to all the other competitors and I was not the worst one. And honestly I was a little surprised by a couple people who advanced into the semi-finals - I didn't think they were that good. Without naming names or pieces (which would give things away), one person played a Grieg piece that I know well except he/she slowed down drastically on the hard part. Another person played a Gershwin piece I know well but he/she missed a bunch of notes because of playing to fast. And another person, although he/she played the pieces nicely, they were relatively easy pieces. But those three people advanced anyway. I'm a bit discouraged, but nothing I can do about it. And out of the 63 competitors, 24 had formal training and have degrees in piano performance. I'm pretty sure many others do too, they just didn't put that information in their bios. One person I was talking to today said there is an amateur piano competition in Texas (I think) with the rule that competitors can hold no degrees in music whatsoever.


You were far from being the worst one. Of the dozen or so that I watched, they broadly fell into three groups - those who presumably were true amateurs, and sounded like amateurs; those who presumably also were true amateurs, but who played nicely and gave very acceptable presentations; and those who appeared formally trained and played in the manner one would expect of such a person. You were at the top end of the second group and as far as I'm concerned you were in the top half of those I watched. I think you chose wisely: you played music with which you were clearly comfortable and au fait, didn't fall into the trap of attempting something outlandish and having it go haywire, and you got a nice sound out of the piano. When something went slightly wrong, you covered it very well and if someone wasn't listening attentively they wouldn't have noticed. Re the judges' decision, I don't know what calibre they are, but it may well be that you know the pieces in question better than them and their judging is a bit superficial. And re formal training, as far as I'm concerned, if you've been to Juilliard or Curtis (etc), you're never an amateur: indeed you've had teaching that some pros would kill for.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 1:14 pm 
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Yes, that's just it, several of the competitors had been to Juilliard or Curtis. The five judges were all highly respected heads of the piano division in area universities. They did have quite as huge job - listening and critiquing four full days worth of piano playing, but still makes you wonder about everything....

Anyway, the competition is now over. Before it started, I told myself that I was never going to enter another competition, but now I am already thinking about what pieces to play for the next one! :lol: Aside from my nerves almost getting the better of me, it really is a great experience. And although I was aware of the three video cameras pointed at me, which was extra scary, I really basically forgot about them once I started to play. Again like at the last competition, I met some nice new friends from all around the world and it was fun to share 'piano stories' and our music with one another. I also came away with a list of some new piano pieces I heard being played by other competitors, so I can't wait to get back to my own piano and start learning some new stuff.

Like I mentioned earlier, I met up with two PS members. The first is Mark Hensley. He's very nice and I watched him play Bach during his competition round and Beethoven in our "Loser's Recital" on Saturday. He's a good player and what was interesting to me is that he used a tablet on the piano for his music - the kind where you turn pages with a foot pedal. It's really neat.

Yesterday I met up with Riley Tucker and boy did we have a great time together! He is also such a nice young man and I hope we can see each other again in the near future. We met outside of Orchestra Hall where a big piano festival was taking place (just a block away from where the amateur piano competition was being held). It was a free event and he and I went right down to the front and sat in the third row in the middle so we were only about 15 feet away from the piano(s) on stage. We watched Emmanuel Ax and Jorge Osorio play some wonderful music, but the highlight for me and I think Riley too was Marc-Andre Hamelin. He was amazing as ever! Really, I'm still in a state of awe from watching him play. And we were sitting so close to him too...very neat! The day before I was with another competitor/friend and we were goofing around on a piano and suddenly the comedy duo, Igudesman and Joo, walked right by us and then ten minutes later Marc-Andre Hamelin did too. Needless to say, I was shocked and simply stared at these people as they walked by (I believe I at least blurted out 'hi' to Igudesman and Joo, but not a word came out of my mouth when Hamelin walked by). But yesterday, the best thing was that during a break in the action, Riley and I decided to go get a bite to eat and there were not many people in the lobby as we walked through, but I caught site of Marc-Andre Hamelin standing there talking to someone and Riley and I were beside ourselves with excitement. We stood a little to the side wondering if we should approach him or even if we had the nerve to do so. Then the person MAH was talking to left and we sort of glided over towards MAH (that's how I felt, like we were floating on air...haha) and Riley took the lead and spoke with MAH and shook his hand and then I did too! Wow wow wow!! :D And I actually spoke in complete sentences for a change and he was very gracious and made of bit of small talk with Riley and me and then that was it. He went on his way and Riley and I about died from being so happy that we got a 'close encounter' with MAH. :) :)

After that, Riley and I went to a nearby restaurant and then went to watch some of the final round of the amateur piano competition. We parted ways after that, Riley went back to Orchestra Hall, and I stayed with the competition people because there was a dinner afterwards for everybody.

Here are few photos of Riley and me at Symphony Center and also a couple photos of Mark Hensley.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:55 pm 
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Monica,
I'm very happy for your experience and proud for all of us that you participated. I hope we'll allways have some American from PS participating in this competition. I appreciate your fine narrative too. I have to find that link now so I can watch some playing!

Eddy

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 6:41 pm 
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That's a great thing when PS members can meet up and even shake hands with someone like MAH. Jealous now.... There's a similar amateur competition in Paris, but I've not so far considered going there.

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 7:31 pm 
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Quote:
Yesterday I met up with Riley Tucker and boy did we have a great time together!


I had the pleasure of meeting Monica yesterday, it was a special honor to meet in person "pianolady," :D who has produced so many wonderful, characterful performances that are on the main site for everyone to listen to! It was really nice of her to pal around with me, have lunch and she even gave me a free ticket to the amateur competition! I was going to pay at the door otherwise :roll: And it was special to meet on this day because it was the one when the music instrument of the piano was being celebrated in the city, CSO called it "Chicago Piano Day" :)

Yesterday was a day I will never forget, I hope I don't anyway :lol: It was a day for piano enthusiasts (non-players) but perhaps specifically inspirational and target marketed for real-life players :P . If only more members on the forum had the opportunity to see the performances Monica and I saw! Emanuel Ax playing a duet with David Hyde Pierce (Dr. Crane on Frasier :lol: ), Igudesman and Joo performing Ave Maria (it was like watching a piano lesson with a strict teacher, very funny) Marc-Andre Hamelin playing Alkan and his own work requiring virtousic technique (his paganni variations had it's funny moments), Jorge Osorio playing some masterworks of the concert repetoire (really excellent playing of chopin) and Gorden Cheng who I saw compete for the final round of the chicago amateur competition (finally I'm on topic :lol:) and who Monica told me today won the competition. I'm almost not surprised :wink: , his performances of a piece each by Mozart and Biscardi were truly incredible. The end of his Mozart was met by very loud cheers from the audience :!:

What Monica said is true, though it is still sinking in--I met Marc Andre Hamelin yesterday and shook his hand! It is true, we engaged in small talk (something about the weather in Chicago :lol: ) but it was great to see him and his wife Cathy Fuller. To think, for the longest time, the closest I had gotten to seeing him was through Youtube videos.. :lol:

After the amateur competition I had a listen to Etudes by Liszt and Rachmaninov performed by the well-known Valentina Lisitsa. Her ability to recall sheets and sheets of music with hardly any margin of error, totally memorized and with a range of expression was to put it simply, spellbinding :shock: was totally beyond spellbinding :P :P :P you should have been there Monica, she was spectacular.

Jeremy Denk gave some some great accounts of Ligeti's etudes. By the way he was moving while he was playing, you really could tell the music was a part of him. It was like he was channeling the spirit of Ligeti! He said he just released a CD of his Ligeti. Hmm, I might get that... 8)

The finale was phenomenal. It was the tour de force of the day. Imagine 8 pianos on the stage and 8 page turners next to each performer. Well that was the case for the first three pieces. The ride of the valkeries, a Hamelin arrangement of Maple Leaf Rag, a Rossini piece, there were up to 8 players playing together, like a small ensemble performance (there where only eight players but each one of the pianos was a grand, all for one. The final piece was Stars and Stripes forever by Sousa. How appropriate, a military march just in time for memorial day! For this piece, the conductor, Mei-Ann Chen didn't conduct eight players, but sixteen :o ! page turners turned into duetists! With 16 strong, it was quite a march! At one part of the refrain, the audience clapped along (Ms. Chen continued to conduct, ignoring them) :P The piece ended, Mr. Ax introduced the performers and duetists and they left the stage. I went home in awe.

Still in awe :lol: ,

Riley

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 3:52 am 
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Eddy - I hope to see you in 2014!!

Riley - you're sweet! It was my pleasure to 'pal around with you'! And I'm glad you got to enjoy more fine piano playing after we went separate ways. If only I could have split myself in two, then I would have gone with you back to Orchestra Hall.

Just received an email from a piano friend -a photo of me playing the beautiful Fazioli on Saturday. I love that piano! Downstairs in the showroom is a 10-foot Fazioli. It costs about the same as a house! The piano at the competition was a restored 100 year old Steinway concert grand. It was a nice piano too...lovely warm tone and slightly stiff keys, which I'm used to from playing on my Yamaha for many years.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:09 pm 
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Sounds great. I'm impressed they managed to get so many "names" to come along.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 3:45 pm 
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andrew wrote:
Sounds great. I'm impressed they managed to get so many "names" to come along.


Emmanuel Ax was in charge of putting together the festival and one of the other artists made a joke something like...."When Manny Ax asks you to do something, you don't turn him down."

(try saying "Ax asks" three times....I can't say it one time! :lol: )

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 3:47 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
(try saying "Ax asks" three times....I can't say it one time! :lol: )

Your dentures pop out don't they ? :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 4:41 pm 
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techneut wrote:
pianolady wrote:
(try saying "Ax asks" three times....I can't say it one time! :lol: )

Your dentures pop out don't they ? :mrgreen:


:lol: :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 5:02 pm 
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I rest my case :P

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 5:01 pm 
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Quote:
Emmanuel Ax was in charge of putting together the festival and one of the other artists made a joke something like...."When Manny Ax asks you to do something, you don't turn him down."

(try saying "Ax asks" three times....I can't say it one time! :lol: )


haha! I vaguely remember that but didn't catch that it was joke! Very clever!

Speaking of Emanuel Ax, not to rub it into any of your faces, but I am seeing him and a number of other pianists tonite at Orchestra Hall! I think it's going to be another one of these all-stops-out concerts showcasing a work for 8 hands! Very excited. If you're interested in a report tomorrow just pm me :lol:

Riley

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 5:43 pm 
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That wasn't really a joke; more like a statement.
But I did hear a joke the night before by David Hyde Pierce (the actor). He said it so quickly and hardly anyone in the audience even got the joke...took me a couple seconds and then I really LOL.

He said something like, "someone came up to me and asked if I wanted to be in the piano competition, and I said gee, amateur."

You have to say the word 'amateur' like this: Ahhhmahchure - Get it? hehehe.. cracks me up! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 5:36 pm 
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Quote:
That wasn't really a joke; more like a statement.
But I did hear a joke the night before by David Hyde Pierce (the actor). He said it so quickly and hardly anyone in the audience even got the joke...took me a couple seconds and then I really LOL.

He said something like, "someone came up to me and asked if I wanted to be in the piano competition, and I said gee, amateur."

You have to say the word 'amateur' like this: Ahhhmahchure - Get it? hehehe.. cracks me up!


:lol: Yes, more of a statement. I give you credit for making it into a tongue twister! Of course, if your dentures pop out that could be bad :|

I must admit, took me a while to get the "I'm not sure." out of Ahhmahchure *facepalm*

perhaps I just spelled it out for some and they are getting it for the first time :D

The Ax concert last night was super. It was all pieces for 2 hands, 2 pianos. Wonderful pieces, Ravel's La Valse, Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances and Brahms Variations.

Riley

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:22 pm 
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pianoman342 wrote:

I must admit, took me a while to get the "I'm not sure." out of Ahhmahchure *facepalm*

perhaps I just spelled it out for some and they are getting it for the first time :D


Probably... :lol:

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