LSM Newswire

Sunday, November 2, 2014

China's Yang Liu Wins Second Toronto International Piano Competition (2014)


Yang Liu, winner of the Second Toronto International Piano Competition (Photo: Andrew Lee)

TORONTONovember 2, 2014  A 23-year-old pianist from China has captured first prize in the second Toronto International Piano Competition.

Yang Liu topped an initial field of 20 during the competition, October 25-November 1.  In the final round, November 1 at Toronto’s Koerner Hall, three pianists performed concertos with the Toronto Concert Orchestra and Maestro Kerry Stratton.  Ms. Liu played the Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor by Tchaikovsky.

She will take home US$15,000, and receive solo and orchestral engagements that include an appearance in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Piano Extravaganza Festival, as well as one with the Toronto Concert Orchestra. 

Second prize (US$8,000) was awarded to Rodolfo Leone, also 23, of Italy; and third prize (US$5,000) to Rachel Kudo, 27, of the U.S.A./Japan.
(l. to r.) Rachel Kudo (3rd Prize); Rodolfo Leone (2nd Prize); Yang Liu (1st Prize) (Photo: Andrew Lee) 
As well, the following three pianists each received US$1,000 prize for reaching the semi-final round:

HyeJin Kim, 26, of South Korea (fourth place)
Wenting Shi, 22, of China (fifth place)
TaekGi Lee, 18, of South Korea (sixth place)

This competition was the first big win for first-prize winner Yang Liu, who has been studying in New York.  It was also her first time playing the famed Tchaikovsky concerto with an orchestra.  “I was a little nervous at first,” she admitted.  “But Maestro Kerry Stratton and the Toronto Concert Orchestra calmed me down.  The beauty of the second movement in particular with the very moving passages for the flute and cello – and, in fact, the entire piece – carried me through.”

Her greatest influences, she said, are her parents, her teachers and the 2010 Competition winner, Jiayan Sun.  Sun, whom she first met in Beijing and again in New York, taught her how to look at music and how to shape it.  Her favorite composers include Bach, whose music she plays on the harpsichord, and Mozart.  She is also a three time winner in calligraphy, and is skilled at both western and Asian style painting, as well as singing and dancing.


Yang Liu (First)
Born in Fuzhou, Fujian, China, Yang Liu has won top prizes in numerous competitions, including the Serge & Olga Koussevitzky Young Artist Awards.  She has performed extensively throughout USA, Europe, and China, in such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center, Merkin Concert Hall, and Liederkranz Hall in New York, the Forbidden City Concert Hall and Beijing Concert Hall in Beijing, as well as halls in Finland, France, Holland and elsewhere.  She has also been invited to perform at Aspen and other international music festivals.  Her interest in early music and early keyboard instruments has also led her to study harpsichord and fortepiano.  As well, she organized and performed concerts in honour of harpsichordist Lionel Party in 2011, and of Debussy’s 150thanniversary in 2012.

Rodolfo Leone (Second)
Italian pianist Rodolfo Leono graduated with top honours in 2009.  In 2013, he captured the top prize at the 59th Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition, as well as the Audience Prize, the Alice Tartarotti and the Keyboard Trust Career Development special prizes. He has played for dozens of musical societies in Italy and Germany, where he was received with wide acclaim from both audiences and critics.  This past year, he toured with the Orchestra Haydn di Trento e Bolzano, performing Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto, and in August, gave a series of recitals in China. Some of Leone’s performances have been broadcast by Deutschlandradio Kultur, Radio RAI and RaiTRE TV.  Leone is now studying at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin.

Rachel Kudo (Third)
Pianist Rachel Kudo has been hailed for her "stunning virtuosity" and "miracle of flawless technique and expressive versatility" as recitalist, soloist, and chamber musician. She was a consecutive winner of two Gina Bachauer International Piano Competitions, a prize winner in the Dublin and U.S. National Chopin Piano Competitions, and the only American finalist at the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.  She has performed in such leading U.S. and European halls as Carnegie Hall, Salle Cortot, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and Vienna Musikverein.   Born in Washington D.C. to Japanese -Korean parents, Kudo began studying piano at age four at the Music Institute of Chicago.  Since obtaining her degrees at Juilliard, she is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University.

The Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto (CCC) invited the world's elite young pianists once every four years to participate in this important Canadian musical event.   More than 100 pianists submitted their entries to the Competition.  According to Artistic Director Lang Ning Liu, the high calibre of this year’s entrants was “overwhelming”.

Chaired by Yoheved Kaplinsky of New York’s Juilliard School, the internationally acclaimed jury comprised James Anagnoson and Kum Sing Lee (Canada), Fabio Bidini (Italy), John Giordano (USA), Jan Jiracek (Germany), and John O'Conor (Ireland)

To ensure a fair and equitable selection process, jury members refrained from voting for their own students in all rounds.  Votes in all rounds were submitted individually and privately to the audit panel of the TIPC committee before announcements were made. 

The Competition was presented by Rolex Canada Ltd. with support from Steinway Piano Gallery of Toronto, the Government of Ontario, corporate sponsors and private donors.

About the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto –
The Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto (CCC) is a registered charitable and non-profit organization – a hub for communities of diverse ethnicities and a centre to help enrich the people’s cultural and artistic life and experience.
With its grand opening in 1998, the 80,000 square-foot Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto (CCC) is now the largest Chinese Cultural Centre and one of the most technologically advanced centres in North America.  It includes a main building, resource library, an 8,500-sq.ft. multipurpose hall, a 626-seat state-of-the-art theatre, reception hall, art gallery and other facilities.
A home for the West to meet the East, the Centre reflects the CCC’s mission to set a standard of integrity and excellence, and to play an active leadership role in promoting and fostering Chinese culture in an inspirational and relevant manner. 

About Rolex –
Leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex, headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over.  Its Oyster watches, all certified as chronometers for their precision, are symbols of excellence, performance, and prestige.

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