16-Year-Old Virtuoso from Italy Takes Top Prize in Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition

August 5, 2012

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Leonardo Colafelice, 16, of Bari, Italy, was awarded first prize after the final round of the 2012 Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition last night (Saturday, August 4) following a stellar performance of the Allegro ma non tanto movement from Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3 in D Minor. As top winner of the week-long event for talented 15-to-18-year-old pianists, held at the Eastman School of Music, Colafelice won the Gold Medal and a cash prize of $5,000.

The second-place winner of the Silver Medal and $2,500 cash award was Junhui Chen, 17, of Shanghai, China. Third-place winner Kate Liu, 16, Winnetka, Ill., and Singapore received a Bronze Medal and $1,500.  Each of the top three winners also receives a full-tuition scholarship to the Eastman School (upon satisfying all admission requirements.) The remaining two finalists, Dong-Won Lee, 18, of Redmond, Wash., and Chaeyoung Park, 15, Lawrence, Kan., each received a $750 cash award.

The finalists played the final round with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, which was conducted by Neil Varon of the Eastman School, in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

Besides the Gold Medal, Colafelice received the Audience Prize and the awards for best performance of a work from the Baroque period (Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D Minor), best performance of a work from the Romantic Period (Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 10), best performance of a classical sonata (Beethoven’s Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major), and best performance of a work written by a Spanish or American composer (“Triana” from Ibéria, Book II by Albéniz). Liu received the awards for best performance of a work written by a French composer (Gaspard de la Nuit Ondine by Ravel) and best performance of a work written by a Russian composer (Stravinsky’s Trois Mouvements de Pétrouchka), while Chen won for best performance in a master class (Rondeña from Ibéria, Book II by Albéniz). In addition, competitor Kevin Ahfat, 17, of Continental, Colo., won the award for Best Performance of a Contemporary Work (Sonata op. 1 by Berg).

Colafelice recently took first prize in the 2012 Thomas and Evon Coooper International Competition in Oberlin, Ohio, where he performed with The Cleveland Orchestra on July 28. Other first prize wins in 2012 include the Fryderyk Chopin International Competition and the Gina Bachauer Young Artists International Piano Competition. Since 2005, he has won nearly 50 national and international first prizes and awards, including first place for piano performance at the 2010 Torneo Internazionale di Music in Verona, the 2011 Premio Citta di Padova in Italy, and the 2011 Young Pianist of the North International Competition in Newcastle, U.K.

This year, 20 competitors from the United States, China, Italy, Japan, Korea, Canada, Russia, and Singapore took part in the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition. Each presented two solo programs of recital repertoire and participated in a master class led by an Eastman School of Music faculty member. The five finalists were announced after the completion of the preliminary rounds on Thursday night, Aug. 2.

The competitors were adjudicated by a panel of judges consisting of Thomas Schumacher, Professor Emeritus of Piano at Eastman, who chaired the jury; Mirian Conti, a Steinway artist who organizes and adjudicates competitions and directs festivals; Min Kim, a frequent soloist and chamber musician who co-chairs music, dance and theatre at New Jersey City University; Gennady Dzyubenko, an active soloist, chamber music collaborator, recording artist and teacher; critically acclaimed and multi-award winning pianist Hong Xu; Jin Zhang, a renowned piano educator from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing; and Veda Zuponcic, a prize-winning performer and professor at Rowan University.

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