Q&A: The Boston International Piano Competition

A 2017 competitor in the Boston International Piano Competition, image by Chloe Bartlett

WICKED LOCAL – Fifteen of the 56 contestants in the 10th Boston International Piano Competition hail from Massachusetts, including Cambridge, Acton, Somerville, Wellesley and other local towns. The contest is organized by Boston Piano Amateurs Association, based in Northborough, and its treasurer, Dr. Robert Berkowitz, hails from Natick and played in the very first competition in 2001. This year’s competition will be held June 5-8 at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. Performances and awards ceremonies are free and open to the public.

The competition is divided into gold and silver “streams.” Each stream features two to three rounds, judged by a jury panel of celebrity concert pianists and educators. Special prizes are awarded for the best performances of romantic, classical, baroque, and modern piano pieces, as well as an audience prize, selected by audience ballot. The competition will also webcast live to the worldwide audience via the nonprofit organization’s website.

The organization’s founder and president, Robert Finley, of Northborough, recently answered questions about the competition and his organization:

Q: Why is the Boston International Piano Competition (BIPC) important to Boston-area music and entertainment?

A: Audiences enjoy the excitement and suspense of music competitions, especially when participating contestants are gathered from all over the world. BIPC’s audiences are a great incentive for competitive pianists to intensely prepare for their recital programs, study with exceptional teachers, and play to the best of their ability to share their love of music. The contestant’s performances are enjoyed by those present in person, as well as a worldwide audience via a live webcast throughout the competition. These performing artists also serve as students for many of the excellent Boston area piano teachers.

Q: What should a competition attendee expect from the competition rounds from the audience?

A: Anyone who loves music should attend, whether they are professional or amateur pianists, music teachers, students, or those who don’t play but just like to listen. Performers from around the world compete in the first two days of preliminaries. The later rounds always feature some magnificent performances in semifinals and finals, comparable to performances by famous professional pianists.

BIPC’s audiences enjoy a huge variety of music from diverse genres including baroque, classical, romantic, impressionist, modern, etc. Listeners enjoy music from the very familiar to works they’ve never before heard. Some find it interesting to hear the same piece performed by several competitors, showcasing their very distinctive styles of playing.

10th Boston International Piano Competition

WHEN: June 5-8

WHERE: Longy School of Music, Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall, 27 Garden St., Cambridge

Preliminary Round: June 5-6, 12:15-8:30 p.m.

Silver Stream Finals, Gold Stream Semifinals: June 7, 1:30-8 p.m.

Gold Stream Finals: June 8, 1:30-5 p.m.


INFO: bostonpianoamateurs.org; longy.edu

Q: What type of competitor does BIPC draw, are there local participants?

A: The competition draws amateur performing artists who are passionate about playing the piano and who love music. They are all career professionals, making their living as doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, teachers and the like. Though the pianists are not playing as their first career, they enjoy this rich facet of their lifestyle musically and socially. They each experience triumphs and disappointments as they build their competition resume, challenging themselves to give their best performances possible.

About 15 contestants local to the Boston region will compete this year, among a total 56 participants. Some have competed in BIPC in prior years, and for others it is their BIPC debut, several being members of Boston Piano Amateurs Association.

Q: Why was the Boston International Piano Competition founded?

A: Boston Piano Amateurs Association Inc. (BPAA), the creator of the Boston International Piano Competition, is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 to organize piano competitions for highly talented amateur pianists. In addition to biennial piano competitions, BPAA organizes informal recital “soirees” in homes across the greater Boston area, master classes taught by expert celebrity piano educators, and formal piano recitals. BPAA’s mission enriches the cultural life of our greater community, increasing its interest in classical music, while providing opportunities for talented amateur pianists to perform to appreciative audiences.