Beijing now on global music map with Rubinstein contest

By Chen Jie ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-03-30 10:15:14

Beijing now on global music map with Rubinstein contest

[File photo]

With some 30 million kids in China playing the piano and many world famous keyboard stars such as Lang Lang, Li Yundi and Yuja Wang, the country is rightly considered a big player in the piano world.

So, it was seen as unusual that the country had no important international piano competition.

But this anomaly is set to be corrected in the next few months.

The first Arthur Rubinstein International Youth Piano Competition will be held in Beijing from Sept 29-Oct 9.

Arie Vardi, the renowned Israeli pianist and jury chairman of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition will serve as jury chairman of the youth contest in Beijing.

Other jury members will be Idith Zvi, artistic director of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition; Russian pianist Vladimir Ovchinnikov, who is jury chairman of the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition; Dmitri Alexeev, jury member of the Chopin International Competition; Susan Starr from the United States; and Chinese pianist Dan Zhaoyi, who is also Li Yundi's teacher.

Chinese pianist Wang Xiaohan will serve as the youth competition's artistic director. All the jury members will give master classes during the contest.

The competition is open to pianists from around the world who have not crossed their 18th birthday by Sept 29. Registration is open until April 29, and more information can be found on

The first prize will be $30,000, the second $20,000 and third $10,000.

A special award will also be given for best performance of Chinese- or Israeli-commissioned pieces.

The China event is just the latest among other global contests which include the International Chopin Piano Competition (Poland); the International Tchaikovsky Competition (Russia); the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (US); and the Arthur Rubinstein International Master Competition (Israel).

The Rubenstein competitions were started in Tel Aviv in 1974 to carry forward the artistic legacy of Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) and to discover new talent and foster emerging careers.

Emanuel Ax won the first prize at the first event in Israel.

The current jury chairman, Arie Vardi, has taught Chinese pianists Li Yundi, Chen Sa and Wang Xiaohan at the Hochschule fuer Musik in Hanover, Germany.

Explaining how the idea for the China event came about, Zvi spoke of her interactions with Wang.

"I've known Wang for 15 years. He is a talented pianist. And now that he teaches at the middle school attached to the Central Conservatory of Music (in Beijing), he wants to do something to discover younger talents and help to pave the way for their later careers."

And so Zvi and Wang started to talk about the possibility of a youth competition being held in China in Rubinstein's name in 2014.

"It is a fantastic idea to cooperate with our Chinese counterparts to run the competition here," she says.

"The Arthur Rubinstein Master Competition is a valid international forum for showcasing pianists and aspiring young talent. We are honored to work with them and maintain its high standards," says Wang.

Chinese pianist Zhou Guangren, 88, who attended the Rubenstein competition in Tel Aviv in 1955, says: "I'd never thought such a prestigious international competition would be held in China."

The Rubinstein competition is special to her because it was the first international competition she attended.

"Later I attended more than 20 other contests and even served as a jury member at some of them. But the Rubinstein competition was the one that really impressed me with its high quality."

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