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The 16th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition Announced

The recitals will be performed as live concerts, but without an audience present, and recorded to the highest technical standards.

The 16th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition Announced

The 16th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, under the artistic direction of Ariel Cohen, will be held this year, from 31 March to 3 May 2021.
The competition, which was originally scheduled to take place in May 2020 and was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, will now take place in an innovative format. Stages I and II will be pre-recorded during March, in five different locations around the world: Tel Aviv, New York, London, Potsdam and Beijing.

The recitals will be performed as live concerts, but without an audience present, and recorded to the highest technical standards. Each contestant will record two recitals: their recital for Stage I will be recorded on day one, and their Stage II recital will be recorded the following day. However, only 16 contestants will advance to the second stage and only the Stage II recitals of those 16 contestants will be broadcast as part of the competition.

The judges will watch the recordings of the competitors' performances 'as live', in other words they will watch the rounds at the same time as the digital viewers. The judges' procedures and voting will be conducted through Zoom.

In Stage I, 36 competitors will each give a 35-40 minute recital. Sixteen contestants will then advance to Stage II, where a 50-60 minute recital will be played. In Stages I and II, the competitors are free to play a repertoire of their choice, subject to certain guidelines, including the performance of one of three works by Israeli composers: two works selected as part of a competition to compose a work, in collaboration with the Israel Music Institute, and a work by the late Sergiu Natra, whose work was selected before he passed away last week.

Six competitors will advance to the Final Stage, each of whom will play three additional concerts - piano quintets, and two concerti: with the Israel Camerata Jerusalem and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Final Stage will take place in Tel Aviv between 29 April and 3 May 2021 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal HaTarbut).
In the event that health regulations do not allow for live concerts on those dates, the Final Stage will be postponed to a later date.

29/4 - 30/4 Final A, Classical Concerto. Each contestant will play a Beethoven concerto of their choice, with the Israel Camerata Jerusalem, conducted by its Music Director Avner Biron.
30/4 -1/5 Final B, Chamber Music. Each contestant will play a piano quintet selected from a specified repertoire list.
2/5 - 3/5 - Final C, Grand Concerto. Each contestant will play a concerto of their choice, from a specified repertoire list, with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yi-An Xu.
3/5 - The award ceremony at the end of the last competitors' performance, that evening.

In addition, this year's competition will include other varied content:

  • Opening Event - the competition's grand opening will take place on 31 March and will be streamed online free of charge. It will comprise a celebration, with the winners of the 15th Rubinstein Competition: Szymon Nehring, Daniel Ciobanu and Sara Daneshpour choosing their favorite Rubinstein performances and themselves performing; conversations about Rubinstein and about the competition; presentation of the jury; impressions from the recordings sessions for the preliminary rounds, and more.
  • Performance Analyses - a series of fascinating lectures designed to reveal the secrets of musical performance for the non-expert, from the musician's viewpoint. What should you pay attention to? What is the difference between the way one pianist plays and another? Five prominent Israeli pianists and lecturers (Astrith Baltsan, Orit Wolf, Tal Samnon, Irit Rub and Gil Shohat) will analyze interpretations of works performed by the competitors, demonstrating at the piano and comparing the interpretations of famous pianists.
  • Meet the Jury - interactive meetings with the competition's adjudicators, who will now take your questions...
  • Discussion Panels - a series of discussions about various aspects of piano competitions and the Rubinstein Competition in particular, from the viewpoints of, variously, music critics, pianists, teachers, composers, and past participants in competitions.
  • Viewers will be able to participate and choose the Audience Favorite, by voting online.
  • Viewers are invited to exchange opinions and experiences with each other using the chat facility.
  • And the format also allows the viewer the freedom to choose a preferred viewing angle, even focusing, if they wish, purely on the pianist's hands!

Ariel Cohen, the artistic director of the competition, says, "This year's competition is being held online, but we've discovered that in fact this format has many benefits for the audience. First, it eliminates distance as a factor - whether you're from the center of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem or Israel's outskirts; from a great cultural city or anywhere else, online viewing is available to music lovers from all over the world. And so the Rubinstein Competition has become an international celebration with no geographical boundaries.

"The viewing experience can be private or with friends, and is time-flexible - you can watch at a time convenient to you, those who are late for the online concert will be able to return to the beginning or watch the full concert later. You can exchange opinions and experiences with other viewers in the chat, and of course nobody has to book a babysitter, waste time on travelling or searching for parking! This year's format also allows us to provide additional content beyond recitals and concerts such as lectures, meetings with judges, speakers and more.

"The Final Stage with the orchestras is planned to be held in Tel Aviv with audience in the hall, so we will enjoy the best of both worlds!"

This year, 36 pianists, 11 women and 25 men, aged 20-33, with diverse representations from 17 countries, are participating in the competition. Among the competitors are three Israelis, five competitors from China, six competitors from Russia, five from South Korea, three from Ukraine, two each from Italy, Taiwan and Spain, and competitors from the United States, UK, Georgia, Japan, Greece / Venezuela, Slovenia, Poland and France.

The jury will be chaired this year by the well-known pianist and teacher Professor Arie Vardi. He will be accompanied by international judges: Yefim Bronfman (Israel / United States), Hung Kuan Chen (United States), Thomas Duis (Germany), Taiseer Elias (Israel), Christopher Elton (United Kingdom), Tomer Lev (Israel), Ewa Poblocka (Poland), Menachem Pressler (Israel / United States) and Craig Sheppard (United States).

Seven young pianists have been selected to serve on the Junior Jury: Itamar Feinberg, Tohar Gil, Nabeel Hayek, Yael Koldovsky, David Margalit, Alona Milner, and IIlia Ovcharenko. They will vote for the Junior Jury prize and for Encouragement Grants to competitors at the preliminary stages.

The Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition began in 1974, and has been held every three years, in Tel Aviv. The competition is considered one of the leading piano competitions in the world and is a significant springboard to international recognition for its winners. Many of today's piano stars began their careers after winning the Rubinstein Competition, among them: Emanuel Ax (1974), Gerhard Oppitz (1977), Alexander Korsantia (1995), Kirill Gerstein (2001), Alexander Gavrylyuk (2005), Igor Levit (2005), Khatia Buniatishvili (2008), Boris Giltburg (2011) and Daniel Trifonov (2011). More than simply a piano contest, the Rubinstein Competition is always a special musical event, with all stages of the competition open to the general public, who are welcomed to enjoy the best of today's talents and spot the stars of tomorrow.

Competition website:

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