Chopin international piano competition closes in on winner

In this undated photo provided by Jaroslaw Golebiowski, a view of a renovated portrait of Polish composer Frederic Chopin. A peeling portrait of Polish piano composer Frederic Chopin purchased at a flea market hung modestly in a private house in Poland for almost three decades before an expert dated the painting to the 19th century. The small painting now resides in a bank vault somewhere in eastern Poland while its owners negotiate their next steps. News of the artwork’s existence broke this week as Warsaw hosted the 18th Frederic Chopin Piano Competition. The art expert who examined the portrait says it has significant historic value, but he refrained from estimating what it might sell for. (Jaroslaw Golebiowski via AP)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The jury of the Frederic Chopin international piano competition was hearing the last finalists Wednesday in Warsaw before announcing the winner of the 40,000 euro ($45,000) first prize in the prestigious event that launches world careers.

The jury will gather for deliberations in the evening after the last four of the 12 finalists play a Chopin concerto with the orchestra during the day. The eight other finalists played Monday and Tuesday.

The verdict is expected late at night at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw.

Bowing to their artistry, the 17-member jury allowed two more finalists this year than usual. The competition, held every five years, was postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

The finalists are Leonora Armellini of Italy; Canada’s J.J. Jun Li Bui and Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu; Alexander Gadjiev, representing Italy and Slovenia; Martin Garcia Garcia of Spain; Eva Gevorgyan representing Russia and Armenia; Jakub Kuszlik and Kamil Pacholec of Poland; Japan’s Aimi Kobayashi and Kyohei Sorita; China’s Hao Rao; and Hyuk Lee of South Korea.

Observers noted that the level of the competition was very high this year and said it’s difficult to pick a favorite to win.

All the finalists are “very outstanding artists,” said Aleksander Laskowski, spokesman for the Fryderyk Chopin Institute that organized the competition.

The winner will receive a gold medal and the financial prize funded by Poland’s president, as well as prestigious recording and concert contracts.

The second prize is worth 30,000 euros ($35,000,) third prize is 20,000 euros ($23,000,) and the fourth is 15,000 euros ($17,000.) There are also prizes for the fifth, sixth and seventh place as well as other awards for the finalists, funded by Poland’s government, music institutions and by private donors.

Chopin, Poland’s best known and beloved classical music composer and pianist, was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw to a Polish mother and a French father. He left Poland at 19 to broaden his music education in Vienna and then in Paris, where he settled, composing, giving concerts and teaching piano. He died on Oct. 17, 1849, in Paris and is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery. His heart is at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.

The auditions can be followed live on the Chopin Institute YouTube channel and on Polish state radio.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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