Fortepiano competition coming to Ithaca

Move over, American Idol: Ithaca will soon host a music competition every bit as hard-fought, but the dueling contestants will use fortepianos instead of voices. On July 31- August 6, 2011, thirty highly talented musicians from all over the world will come to Ithaca for the first-ever International Fortepiano Competition in America, hosted by the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies and held at Cornell University. All competition events July 31-August 4, and Saturday, August 6, are free and open to the public and audiences are encouraged to attend.The Westfield Center anticipates that over 300 people will attend the final round, prize ceremony and reception. In addition to monetary prizes totaling $13,500; the first-prize winner will have engagements in several important concert series and festivals on both sides of the Atlantic. A fortepiano academy with Bart van Oort and David Breitman, running August 7-13, will follow the competition.Ithaca has been central to the revival of the fortepiano and its music since the late 1960s, most especially due to the pioneering work of Malcolm Bilson, and it is fitting that the first competition devoted to these earlier instruments take place here. The word ‘fortepiano’ was coined in the late 1950s to distinguish Mozart’s and Beethoven’s pianos from modern pianos, all of which are based today on a single late 19th century design. Many serious musicians believe that today’s instrument, so vastly different from any pianos those earlier composers would have known, is not the best vehicle for realizing their music.The week will kick off on Sunday evening, July 31st, at 8 PM in Lincoln Hall on the Cornell University campus, with a few welcoming remarks, a short concert by Andrew Willis, playing Johann Sebastian Bach on a copy of a 1731 Ferini fortepiano, and a brief filmdiscussing the role of the fortepiano in today’s musical world. Rounds 1 and 2, August 1-4, will take place in Sage Chapel, likewise at Cornell. The final round, prize-giving ceremony and closing celebration and reception will be in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts in Collegetown. Violinist Elizabeth Field and cellist Stephanie Vial in one of the three Beethoven Trios of his Opus 1 will join each of the five finalists. A Fortepiano Academy-Workshop with current enrollment of 25 students will follow the Competition, from August 7-13.The impressive list of jurors and instructors for this summers competition and academy include: Penelope Crawford, University of Michigan,Pierre Goy, Conservatoire de Lausanne (Switzerland), Christopher Hogwood,keyboardist, conductor and scholar (England), Tuija Hakkila, Sibelius Academy (Finland), Robert Levin, HarvardUniversity, György Vashegyi, conductor and artistic director, Orféo Orchestra, Budapest (Hungary), and Andrew Willis, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The instructors for the academy are, David Breitman, Oberlin Conservatory, and Bart van Oort, of The Hague (Holland). Malcolm Bilson, Cornell University, ex officio, will serve as President of the Competition and Academy.The Westfield Center, this country’s preeminent organization for the advancement of classical keyboard music, is recognized for its advocacy on behalf of classical keyboard instruments and for outstanding workshops, symposia, and publications. Until recently the center (founded in 1979), had no permanent home. In Early 2011 Annette Richards, The Center’s Executive Director and Professor of Music at Cornell University, received a $470,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help establish The Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies at Cornell University and to support its programs over the next three years. The International Keyboard Competition and Summer Academy is a new venture madepossible by this grant. The Fortepiano Competition and Academy this August will be followed by a Harpsichord Competition and Academy at the Smithsonian in Washington DC in the summer of 2012, and an Organ Competition and Academy hosted jointly by Cornell and the Eastman School ofMusic in the summer of 2013.Donations towards the competition’s prize money have come in from both national and local individuals and organizations. For more information or to donate to the Competition and Academy or to find out more about the Westfield Center please go to: http://westfield.org/competition or call (607) 255-3065. Schedule: Sunday – July 31, Opening Event8PM – B20 Lincoln Hall – Cornell Campus Monday – Wednesday, August 1-3 First Round Performances10 A.M. – 1 P.M.4 P.M. – 7 P.M.Sage Chapel – Cornell CampusThursday, August 4, Second Round9:30 A.M. – 1:15 P.M.4 P.M.- 7:45 P.M.Sage Chapel – Cornell Campus Saturday, August 6, Final Round, Prize Ceremony and Celebration2 P.M.-5 P.M. and 7 P.M.-9 P.M.9:30 P.M. Announcement of Prizes and Reception,Schwartz Center, Kiplinger Proscenium Theatre

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