Chopin piano competition promises a ‘gruelling repertoire’


Japanese pianist Kotaro Nagano.

CANBERRA will host the third Australian International Chopin Piano Competition in September with 16 contestants from around the globe vying for the top prize of $25,000 and various trappings as well as all the accolades that go with it.

Winner of the second competition, in 2014, was the astonishing Japanese pianist, Kotaro Nagano, who gave a precursor recital at the ANU School of Music yesterday (July 20), his second recital in as many weeks.

As winner of the judges’ award and the people’s choice award, Nagano has become something of a favourite in Canberra for his exquisite interpretations as a specialist in the music of Polish composer, Frédéric Chopin (that’s the French form of his name – he moved from Warsaw to Paris when he was 21).

As well as his appearances at the 2014 competition, Nagano performed three Beethoven sonatas in the epic cycle of all 32 at the 2015 Canberra International Music Festival.

For the Chopin competition, contestants from Australia, Russia, Vietnam, China, Taipei, Russia, US, Finland, Korea, Ukraine and Poland will work their way through a gruelling repertoire, almost entirely of Chopin.

But other composers will get a look in, too, including an Australian work from the associated composition competition, which the eight remaining contestants will need to play in round three. There’ll be plenty of weeding going on right at the start, too, with entrants in the auditions required to play a repertoire covering works from the baroque period to the 21st century.

By round four – the final – there will be three contestants left, who will be required to perform one of Chopin’s two piano concerti.

Canberra pianist and composer Larry Sitsky will chair the seven-person jury, comprising some top-notch names from around the country, and even a distinguished piano teacher who flits between Warsaw and Japan.

President of the Friends of Chopin Australia Ben James, who is also general manager of the Chopin competition, says he is looking forward to bringing “the best of the world to Australia and the best of Australia to the world”.

If Kotaro Nagano is anything to go by, we Canberrans are in for a unique treat right here in our own backyard.

The third Australian International Chopin Piano Competition, at the ANU School of Music, September 10-17. For all information and bookings visit



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