ROCHESTER, NY — Mr. Xin Jia, “a poised and polished pianist” (Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY) from Shenyang, China, has taken first prize in the seventh annual Eastman School of Music Young Artists International Piano Competition, with second and third prizes going to two 17-year olds: Todd Yaniw from Waterloo, Ontario (Canada), and Evan Shinners of Salt Lake City, Utah, respectively. The 18 year-old Jia received a $4000 cash prize plus a $10,000 scholarship per year for four years to attend the Eastman School. Yaniw received a cash award of $1500; Shinners received $500.
The final round of the nearly week long competition took place on Saturday, August 2 at Eastman’s Kilbourn Hall, when the six finalists from four countries — narrowed down from the original 20 — all performed a concerto round with second piano accompaniment. Mr. Jia performed “a lyrical and thoughtful rendition” (Democrat and Chronicle) of the first movement of Tchaikowsky’s Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor, Opus 23. Earlier in the week, each competitor performed in two intensive 20-minute preliminary rounds of recital repertoire. “It is encouraging to see such high levels of artistry, virtuosity, and commitment to the performance and study of piano music,” said Douglas Humpherys, co-chair of the Eastman piano department and director of the competition. “I am confident that the future of the piano profession is well-placed in the capable hands of these remarkable young artists.”
Mr. Jia has been playing the piano for 15 years, and has completed his studies at the Secondary School of the Shenyang Conservatory. He also received fourth prize in the 2001 Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition.
A piano festival component included guest recitals by jury members Faina Lushtak and Duane Hulbert, master classes led by jury members and Eastman School piano faculty, recitals by former competition laureates, and a final concert by the three winners at the Eastman Theatre.
The jury was chaired by Paul Pollei, founder and artistic director of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. Joining him were Hulbert, Lushtak, and pianist Min Kim. At the awards ceremony, Mr. Pollei proclaimed Eastman’s competition as “one of the wonderful international competitions of the world.”