One of the best-known musical events of the world, the renowned biennial International Steinway Festival, is now well underway with various countries concurrently running national-level auditions to determine their representatives for the International Steinway Festival 2016. This year, the competition saw a significant increase in participation from Singaporeans. From an unprecedented registration of 70 hopefuls, 18 contestants were selected from grueling auditions to compete at the semi-finals held at 10 Square @ Orchard Central on 23 April 2016.
First launched in 2012 and sponsored by Bank Julius Baer, the 3rd Steinway Youth Piano Competition is the only competition in Singapore that caters to pianists below the age of 17. Recognizing music as a global language, the competition is well aligned with Bank Julius Baer’s sponsorship focus towards classical music and youth talent development as it serves to identify, encourage, and promote young pianists during the formative stages of their careers.
Hosted by Steinway Gallery Singapore, the Singapore Steinway Youth Piano Competition is well-recognized within the music community for its high benchmark for performance. Going beyond the nature of a competition, it serves as a prestigious musical platform for young aspiring musicians that provide opportunities of growth for all contestants. Aside from the chance to win the coveted opportunity to progress into the regional competition and the International Steinway Festival, attractive prizes and development prospects are also awarded to participants. Contestants are presented with the opportunity to showcase their talents across different platforms such as ChildAid, a yearly charity concert organized by Singapore Press Holdings Limited.
Open exclusively to aspiring pianists aged 17 years and below, the local competition held a unique format with three separate age categories. The age categories and competition timings were as follows:
- 9am - 10:30am, Category 1 (Age 11 and below)
- 10:45am - 1pm, Category 2 (Age 12 - 14)
- 2pm - 4:30pm, Category 3 (Age 15 - 17)
All contestants are required to perform three contrasting piano pieces of up to 20 minutes during their ‘live’ audition to a panel of local distinguished judges.
The much-anticipated results were released at 5pm on the same day. The finalists that emerged are:
|Chan Yan||Henry Park Primary School|
|Jolene Chow Kit Mun||St Hilda's Primary School|
|Jaden Tan Yu Xuan||Beacon Primary School|
|Lim Shi Han||Raffles Girls School|
|Tan Khin Swee Elizabeth||Raffles Girls School|
|Yap Sheng Hwa||Gong Shang Primary School|
|Joel Tan Jun Yao||NUS HIGH School of Maths and Science|
|Nicole Ng Xin-Yu||Raffles Girls School|
|Wang Huang Hao Jia||Raffles Institution|
These 9 finalists (3 from each category) will compete at the Grand Finals at the Victoria Concert Hall on the 11 June 2016 for a chance to be crowned the Grand Prize Winner and represent Singapore at the Steinway Regional Finals Asia Pacific in Kuala Lumpur from 22-23 July 2016.
The Regional finals will see the national winners of 9 countries including Brunei, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, compete for the coveted spot to represent Asia at the International Steinway Festival 2016, to be held in Hamburg, Germany, from 9-12 September 2016.
Nicole Tay, National Winner of the 2nd Steinway Youth Piano Competition 2014 says, “I have wonderful memories of my participation in the Steinway Youth Piano Competition, and it has been the most enjoyable competition that I have taken part in. As a whole, this competition has helped me grow as a pianist. I’ve learnt to be more natural on stage and truly enjoy myself when performing. It has also opened doors for me, and through the efforts of Steinway Gallery Singapore, I have been invited to participate in Master classes and Recitals.”
Ms Celine Goh, General Manager of Steinway Gallery Singapore, says, “I’m glad to see young pianists making new friends and exchanging musical ideas at The Steinway Youth Piano Competition. The parents and teachers are also excited to know that their children’s performances are adjudicated by internationally renowned music educators and practitioners, which is an important part of shaping the natural talent in the young pianists into finding their own unique voice.”
Mr Torsten Linke, Branch Manager, Singapore and Head Private Banking, Southeast Asia, Bank Julius Baer says “Committed to the development of young talent and excellence in classical music, Julius Baer is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the 3rd Singapore Steinway Youth Piano Competition. We firmly believe that this Competition is an effective platform to instill in young musicians the confidence to aspire to greater heights in musical achievement. It is our hope that by doing so we are able to contribute to Singapore’s rich and robust performing arts culture, not only for today, but for generations to come.”
“Raffles Singapore is proud to be the supporting partner of the third Steinway Youth Piano Competition 2016. A proponent of culture and the arts, we have always advocated their importance to society. On that same note, it is our pleasure to encourage promising young pianists so that the music will always play on. Music has been an indispensable part of the Raffles Singapore experience. Enchanting recitals of piano pieces fill the grandeur of our lobby each evening with our resident pianist playing the melodies of famous classics and selected scores from Noel Coward’s repertoire on the Steinway piano where the latter was once a resident at the hotel.” says Mr. Simon Hirst, General Manager of Raffles Hotel Singapore.
ThePiano.SG had the privilege of interviewing two of the talented 14-year-old semi-finalists: Zhang Yi Fan, Jem, from Victoria Secondary School, and Lim Shi Han from Raffles Girls School. Both these prodigies began playing the piano at the tender age of 6, and are tutored by Fang Yuan and Lena Ching, respectively.
Madam Fang is the Principal of the School of Young Talents as well as the Head of Department for Junior Music at NAFA (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts). A well-established piano performer that has held concerts internationally and a recipient of multiple outstanding awards, she is recognized as a key contributor to music education in Singapore, with her students continuing to gather acclaim worldwide.
Ms. Lena Ching is the Head of Keyboard Studies and a Senior Lecturer of Music at NAFA. Once a prize-winning student herself, she now holds a Master of Arts degree in ‘Psychology for Musicians’ from the University of Sheffield (U.K.) and has a plethora of professional performing experiences under her belt. Now back in her homeland of Singapore, Ms. Ching continues to inspire aspiring young musicians to share her passion for music and life.
11 June 2016 l 9am – 1pm l Formal competition
11 June 2016 l 7 – 9.30pm l Gala Concert
Each of the 9 finalists from 3 age categories will perform a 6-minute piece of their choice. The second half of the Gala Concert will announce the Grand Prize winner of the 3rd Singapore Steinway Youth Piano Competition
Here we share our exclusive video interviews with Lim Shi Han, Zhang Yi Fan, and his father.