13-year-old Micah McLaurin competes in piano competition
- When: Monday, July 7, 2008, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Where: Swarthout Recital Hall, Murphy Hall, 1530 Naismith Drive, Lawrence
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- When: Sunday, July 13, 2008, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive, KU campus, Lawrence
- Cost: $7 - $12
- More on this event....
Constance Lin Kaita began playing piano at age 4. She performed her first solo with a professional symphony at 9.
On Sunday, the 13-year-old from New Jersey reached her latest musical stepping-stone as a semifinalist in the International Institute for Young Musicians Piano Competition at Kansas University.
"It feels really great to have made it this far," she said.
Sixteen young people vied for the top prize in the competition Sunday, an all-day event that drew not only the pianists and their families but also members of the public to Swarthout Recital Hall in Murphy Hall.
"There are about 150 people coming in and out through the day," said Scott McBride Smith, president and CEO of IIYM. "For people who love music this is a very special thing."
Participants, ranging in age from 12 to 18, took turns wowing the audience with works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin and others.
Logan Skelton, professor of piano at the University of Michigan and one of three judges for the competition, revealed what he and his colleagues sought in the performances.
"You're looking for musicality, sound, creativity, imagination, a sense of style that's appropriate to the piece," he said. "You're looking for communication, projection of sound - all sorts of things rolled into one - and also comfort, facility at the keyboard and mastery of the instrument."
The young pianists come from across the U.S. and from Hong Kong and Korea. Some will participate in finals competition today.
A Winners Concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Lied Center with tickets priced at $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for students.
The institute also conducts summer music activities for about 90 students from the United States and around the world at KU's Murphy Hall throughout July.
"We've been doing this for about 15 years here in Lawrence and are developing quite a good reputation as the place where young, precollege kids come," Smith said. "This is kind of their first step into a big professional career."
Smith said the pianists performing Sunday were the best of the best for their ages. Some attend special academies or are home-schooled to fit long hours of practice into their schedules, he said.
Paul von Autenried Jr., a 14-year-old student from Princeton, N.J., has played piano for a decade. He was happy with his performance Sunday.
"It was a pretty consistent performance from piece to piece," he said. "I recovered from minor errors, and I think I had fun with the last piece. : I definitely had fire, which I was looking for."