Fourteen-year-old Chaeyoung Park has spent most of her summer playing the piano. Since school finished at the end of May, the soon-to-be sophomore at Bishop Seabury Academy has practiced nine hours a day to prepare for the International Institute for Young Musicians 2012 International Piano Competition.
The annual competition is an international contest open to pianists ages 12-19. The contestants first submitted an audition DVD, and from the 35 submissions, 12 semifinalists were chosen. The semifinalists competed Saturday, each playing for 25 minutes, and then six finalists were selected. On Monday night the finalists each played for 35 minutes.
The contest was judged by five piano professionals from around the world, including Steven Spooner, associate professor of piano at Kansas University.
Following the competition, the students, as well as other international pianists, attend a piano camp. The camp is taught by both KU faculty as well as international piano experts. All 65 students had to apply to attend the camp.
“These are very dedicated students,” Charles Hung, IIYM advisory committee member, said. “They spend their spare time on the piano; for fun, they’re on the piano.”
Park isn’t new to IIYM or its annual piano competition. In 2011, Park was the youngest pianist to make both the semifinals and finals, and this year she competed in the finals with hopes of winning the $8,000 first place prize.
“Overall it was good,” Park said. “I could’ve done better, but I feel like it was still good.”
Park may feel like she could’ve done better, but she still outplayed the five other pianists in the competition, not only taking first place but also winning the vote for audience favorite, which carries another $1,000 prize.
Second place, which has a prize of $5,000, was awarded to Evan Lin, and third place, along with $3,000, went to Rieko Tsuchida. The other three finalists, Alice Zhu, Evelyn Mo and Trenton Takaki, will receive finalist prizes of $500 each.
The prize money and trophies will be awarded to the finalists at the Winners Concert at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Lied Center Pavilion. Admission is $10, and children ages 11 and younger get in for free.