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 Post subject: Competition time!
PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 3:09 pm 
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Call me crazy, but one week from today I will be playing in the Chicago Amateur Piano Competition. As it approaches, I also think I am crazy because I just read all the bios from the other competitors and I am such a nobody compared to them. Most of them are doctors, dentists, engineers, or they have degrees in piano. I have none of those things! I entered for more of the social aspect of the competition, but still I am getting more and more nervous by the second.

Once again, they are streaming the competition online, so if you’d like to get a good laugh, you can watch me play my first round pieces (I’m sure I won’t advance to the second round). My time to play is next Wednesday, May 21st at 2:45 in the afternoon (Chicago time). Here is the link to the online streaming site:

http://gigity.tv/PianoForteFoundation/


Please pray for me.... :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 8:43 pm 
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That is ultra-cool, Monica! 8)
Good luck, and if I'm home I'll catch that round!

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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 4:01 am 
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All right Monica! :)
What are you going to play?

(ps it seems unfair that people with piano degrees are allowed into the amateur competition)


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 9:51 am 
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Good luck! Don't worry about the other people! The best of your playing, such as some of the Spanish pieces, is very professionally presented and you have an evident affinity with it. You can't ask for more than that.

hreichgott wrote:
(ps it seems unfair that people with piano degrees are allowed into the amateur competition)


Yes, I've always thought it a curious anomaly that people with formal professional training are allowed into amateur competitions, so long as they "don't earn their primary income from teaching or performing" (not checked precise conditions here, but that's a standard clause).


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 4:19 pm 
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Why so nervous? Come on, get a grip! It's not like you've never done this before.
If you're not there to win, you've got nothing to lose. You're there to have fun, so just have fun!
You've practised your pieces, and it doesn't matter how the judges will grade you.
The best technical outcome for you will be that your playing meets the standard you have set yourself.

OK, you're crazy. 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 8:51 pm 
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Thank you Stu, Heather, Andrew, and Rainer for the words of encouragement. I can use all the encouragement I can get :!: :D
For my first round music I will be playing Rachmaninov’s Etude Tableaux Op. 33 in G-minor, Scarlatti’s Sonata K80 in G-major, and Barber’s Excursion no. 1. As you can see, I am already doomed because I’m not playing ANY Spanish music! :lol:

But I have worked so hard on these pieces. Last night as I was practicing, I was so tired (from working all day, etc.) that I actually closed my eyes and continued playing....like I was blind. So that means I have the notes down in my memory pretty well. I know I will still make a bunch of flubs anyway, but if I can just get to the end of the piece, I will be happy.

And yes, It is ridiculous how some of these people are able to be classified as amateurs!! :evil:

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 1:48 am 
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Monica,

I am looking forward to seeing you play through the webcast. I still remember hearing you play the Granados Goyescas piece in Summer 2012. While it does seem the respective terms "amateur" and "pro" have been used loosely, I think a lot of these players are closer to amateurs, even if they have degree in piano. I have a degree in piano, and I know where my limits are as a pianist. Seeing you play that spanish piece was a real treat. It was by the sound of it very technically challenging, rather long and surely no mere amateur could do that! :)

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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 7:44 pm 
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Hi Riley, that was fun meeting up with you in 2012. But I'm glad I didn't know you were in the audience when I played, though, because then I would have been even more nervous! :) I'll never forget that performance: I've mentioned this before, but anyway, that's the first time I ever got a migraine headache. I don't know how I got to the end of that piece because I could barely remain sitting at the piano and white lights flashed in my eyes the whole time. I'm going to do things differently this time around and try not to get so worked up before I go on stage.

My current dilemma is trying to decide whether or not to bring my music up to the piano or leave it behind.

One other thing: I learned that another competitor is playing one of the same pieces I am playing, and she plays directly after me. So I will either make her look good, or she will make me look bad. Wait...that's the same thing... :lol:

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 12:09 am 
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pianolady wrote:
that's the first time I ever got a migraine headache. I don't know how I got to the end of that piece because I could barely remain sitting at the piano and white lights flashed in my eyes the whole time. I'm going to do things differently this time around and try not to get so worked up before I go on stage.

My current dilemma is trying to decide whether or not to bring my music up to the piano or leave it behind.



I take precautionary paracetamol before going on stage. Do you get any rehearsal time? It's worth familiarising yourself with the lighting conditions that exist when you're actually sitting at the piano (especially if you're playing from the score).

Re the score, I'm a bit concerned that you haven't yet made up your mind about this. If you're playing from memory, you should be rehearsing from memory, preferably occasionally in front of friends and/or family, just to get yourself used to the experience. If I'm playing pieces in public from memory, in the week before the recital, I run through everything I'm playing from memory at least once a day, in strict programme order. And if you have memorised the score but (usually people do this for reasons of safety/nerves) are going to play with the score in front of you, rehearse playing explicitly from the score and NOT relying on memory. I've seen too many people have a moment of panic when they have the score in front of them but are in fact playing from memory, memory suddenly blocks up and they don't know where they are in the score! If you are using a pageturner, ideally you should also do one or two of sessions rehearsal with the pageturner so that he/she gets accustomed to how far in advance they should turn the page (different people tend to have differing requirements in that respect).


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 1:25 pm 
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andrew wrote:
I take precautionary paracetamol before going on stage. Do you get any rehearsal time? It's worth familiarising yourself with the lighting conditions that exist when you're actually sitting at the piano (especially if you're playing from the score).

I get only three minutes at the piano that's on stage earlier in the day, and then I'll have an hour in a practice room upstairs right before my turn to play. Is paracetamol like an aspirin? I had already thought about taking something like that ahead of time too.

Regarding the score...I know....I've told other people the same thing before. I'll spend time practicing with the music up on the stand today. Still not sure what I'll do come Wednesday though.

Thanks for the tips, Andrew!! :)

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 11:25 am 
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Yeah, just any cheap generic painkiller should be fine. I've found that the combination of lights, big sound coming from a grand piano with its lid up, and nerves/adrenalin is often enough to induce a headache.


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 9:11 pm 
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Let me be the first to congratulate you on a fine performance.
The Scarlatti shows a lot of improvement since the last time I heard it, and the Barber was lots of fun as always.
BTW: You should have looked at the audience a little sooner when you were finished.
Also BTW: The dress looked fine on TV. Video has come a long way in the last 10-15 years. (In the 90's, the rule was don't juxtapose colors too much.) Of course, I know that the TV was not on anyone's mind in the competition.

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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 12:16 am 
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... and the Rachmaninov. I had forgotten this piece, and am happy to be reminded of it. I got out your recording of it (which I believe to be some years old since it has few tags :) ) and I think you've improved it - all the more so since this was live. I play this at home for the beauty but have not made sense of it, which I think you have. That Rachmaninov was a deep character.

Oh - I forgot to add
Quote:
good luck
! If you get to play again, I hope you'll have time to inform us.

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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 2:03 am 
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You can be proud of yourself. You got some very nice sounds out of the piano, and your playing was not remotely amateurish, by which I mean that a casual viewer would be hard pushed to deduce whether you were a "true" amateur, or an "amateur" (in name only) who has been through professional training. Well done.


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 5:58 am 
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Thank you, Stu and Andrew! It warms my heart that some Piano Society friends took time to watch me! :)

Stu - I'm glad my dress looked okay! :D Regarding looking at the audience....I wanted to, and tried to, but the man who turned pages for me was talking to me and I didn't know what to do. So I just sort of looked back at the audience and waved...or something like that. Probably something stupid. I don't have the best stage presence. But you know what's funny? The page turner told me that he accidentally turned two pages, but I kept playing anyway and didn't even notice because I had the piece memorized and was looking down at the keys. I am so thankful now that I memorized the music!!!

Andrew - I'm happy to report that I did NOT get a headache this time. In fact, I felt great..aside from being nervous of course. I took two ibuprofen about a half-hour before I played.

Thank you both again for the kind words and encouragement. I wish I could give you a hug! Anyway, there is more of 1st round competitors tomorrow and then tomorrow evening we find out who advances. Bye for now.....

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 10:54 am 
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I watched you last time (2 years ago) but regret that this time I had a conflicting commitment. I'm glad to hear it went well and especially that you felt great.
Now you can focus on your second round pieces. :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 7:22 am 
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Thank you, Rainer, but there won't be a second round for me. I did not advance into the semi-finals. I practiced so hard, too, but it never pays off! Will I ever do a competition again? I told the competition organizer that I will try again next time, but I probably won't. I am pretty dejected right now. But at the same time, I am a little relieved because had I made it to the semi-finals, I would have been under even more stress and pressure because my second round pieces haven't gotten enough practice. Also, I'm happy that I felt good at the piano for a change. No headache, no heart beating out of my chest, etc... And now I can relax and watch the remaining three days of competition WITH NO STRESS. Except I may play a little something at an impromptu recital on Saturday--it's a lot more low-key. But I'm not even sure about that. I'm having so many conflicted thoughts about piano-playing now.

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 11:31 am 
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Don't be despondent, you played very well, and committed none of the common sins of amateur playing - technical fallibility, badly articulated passagework, stop start after problems, etc. (I didn't expect you to though - you're a better pianist than that!)

Trying to be objective about it, I can only see three things judges can hold against you (and one of them is subjective any way). Firstly, your playing is slightly introverted (that's the subjective observation) and possibly doesn't have enough emotional range. It's something I've noticed over the years attending masterclasses where there are a mixture of professionals and amateurs - some of the amateurs are competent, but a little "polite" in their playing. I'm not a completely objective observer here, because I incline towards more demonstrative playing (and indeed often mentally criticise myself for not being demonstrative enough): your playing is part of who you are and it's also completely reasonable that you might lean towards caution in such a stressful situation.

Secondly and thirdly, the means by which I would deduce as an impartial observer that you were a true amateur, in the best sense of the word... As I've mentioned before, your playing doesn't give it away. I didn't want to comment on this beforehand as I didn't want to influence your decision, but rightly or wrongly, playing from the score can be taken as such an indicator. (Amusingly, it's "acceptable" to play from the score if you're playing highly complex modern/contemporary music eg Messiaen, Ligeti - I think the whole attitude to score/memory is ridiculous, but nonetheless I tend to go along with it for appearance's sake).

The other sign is the repertoire - I think you're being very sensible in your choices and not overextending yourself - but ultimately if a pianist wants to advance in such competitions, it's almost de rigueur to have some flashy material to showcase your technique. So my point would be that the absence of such material is also (harshly) a potential indicator of your status. I've not had time to look through much of the playing and see how many who advanced did have such warhorse material, but I did see last competition's archive and you seemed to be on there after someone playing Ligeti's L'escalier du diable, case in point. I don't know how you deal with something like this, all I know is how I would in your position. There's also no point in playing something ridiculous, Alkan or whatever, and playing it badly, as I would have probably ended up doing several years ago when I discussed entering an amateur competition with my teacher.

You can, and should, be proud of yourself.


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 3:03 pm 
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Thank you, Andrew!
It was very when I wrote the last post and I was emotionally drained. I feel better this morning.

They have video up on the website now, so I just watched myself. Yuck! I hate seeing myself!! I have confirmed the places where I knew my fingers did something weird, but also some places that I thought came out badly turned out not to be too bad. I understand what you mean that I play too politely. It's my nerves. I wish they could hold competitions in my own living room, without an audience and definitely without a judge. Then I'd be a lot better! haha

Choosing repertoire is hard! And boy....you really hear some great variety at these competitions, which I appreciate since I'm always on the lookout for something new to play. There are some duplicates of course, but even listening to the more common pieces is fun since you can then critique the playing for real.

Thank you for you words of wisdom!! :D

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 1:36 am 
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Congratulations on going outside your comfort zone and taking a risky step.
Not advancing doesn't mean you did anything wrong. It just means there were other people who played better on that particular day. And as previously noted, some of those people have a LOT of training and experience. I believe it is Emanuel Ax who refers to competitions as lotteries!
Have fun at the impromptu recital. See, after this it feels easy ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 1:55 pm 
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Yes, you should play at the informal recital. If you play one of those Spanish composers that are new to many (and that you play so well), it will also break the ice since listeners will want to know something about the composer. (It's an old party trick - play something no one knows so they'll talk to you later.)

Rainer's right about difficulty; but I think that the Rachmaninov is pretty difficult. I read through it again after I heard you play and my fingers kept getting tangled (and I got a headache). You chose very entertaining stuff, which is not bad because it makes it easier to remember your performance.

He's also right that you should be more assertive; you probably have more recordings than the other competitors combined, so you're no novice. You should be on a bench in front of an audience entertaining them; it's your rightful place. Anyway, have fun at the rest of the event!

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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 3:37 am 
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Got a chance to see you play with the archive section on the webcast. I really enjoyed all three, I just wish i had my headphones because I was watching it on my phone and it doesn't have great speakers. I'm glad that you are still enjoying the contest, even if you're not number one. As I was always told by my cross country running coach "it's nice to be great, but far greater to be nice." :)

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 Post subject: Re: Competition time!
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 1:01 pm 
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@Heather - thank you for that. You and Emanuel are right: anything can happen at a competition. And also, anything after this seems easy! :)

@Stu - I actually did play at the recital. I originally planned to play two pieces, but just played one. It wasn't Spanish though. It was Vladigerov's "Autumn Elegy". It's a piece I learned several years ago but have always liked it and felt like re-learning recently. The audience seemed to like the piece too, and because nobody knew it, nobody knew if I made a mistake. I did make one or two fumbles, but it wasn't terrible.

Sorry you got a headache after trying out that Rachmaninov piece, but what you said made me laugh!

@Riley - thanks for taking the time to watch. I like what your coach said!!
I am still very much enjoying myself. Today (Sunday) is the last day--the final round. I will simply be sitting in the audience enjoying the music.

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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