Yes, that's just it, several of the competitors had been to Juilliard or Curtis. The five judges were all highly respected heads of the piano division in area universities. They did have quite as huge job - listening and critiquing four full days worth of piano playing, but still makes you wonder about everything....
Anyway, the competition is now over. Before it started, I told myself that I was never going to enter another competition, but now I am already thinking about what pieces to play for the next one!
Aside from my nerves almost getting the better of me, it really is a great experience. And although I was aware of the three video cameras pointed at me, which was extra scary, I really basically forgot about them once I started to play. Again like at the last competition, I met some nice new friends from all around the world and it was fun to share 'piano stories' and our music with one another. I also came away with a list of some new piano pieces I heard being played by other competitors, so I can't wait to get back to my own piano and start learning some new stuff.
Like I mentioned earlier, I met up with two PS members. The first is Mark Hensley. He's very nice and I watched him play Bach during his competition round and Beethoven in our "Loser's Recital" on Saturday. He's a good player and what was interesting to me is that he used a tablet on the piano for his music - the kind where you turn pages with a foot pedal. It's really neat.
Yesterday I met up with Riley Tucker and boy did we have a great time together! He is also such a nice young man and I hope we can see each other again in the near future. We met outside of Orchestra Hall where a big piano festival was taking place (just a block away from where the amateur piano competition was being held). It was a free event and he and I went right down to the front and sat in the third row in the middle so we were only about 15 feet away from the piano(s) on stage. We watched Emmanuel Ax and Jorge Osorio play some wonderful music, but the highlight for me and I think Riley too was Marc-Andre Hamelin. He was amazing as ever! Really, I'm still in a state of awe from watching him play. And we were sitting so close to him too...very neat! The day before I was with another competitor/friend and we were goofing around on a piano and suddenly the comedy duo, Igudesman and Joo, walked right by us and then ten minutes later Marc-Andre Hamelin did too. Needless to say, I was shocked and simply stared at these people as they walked by (I believe I at least blurted out 'hi' to Igudesman and Joo, but not a word came out of my mouth when Hamelin walked by). But yesterday, the best thing was that during a break in the action, Riley and I decided to go get a bite to eat and there were not many people in the lobby as we walked through, but I caught site of Marc-Andre Hamelin standing there talking to someone and Riley and I were beside ourselves with excitement. We stood a little to the side wondering if we should approach him or even if we had the nerve to do so. Then the person MAH was talking to left and we sort of glided over towards MAH (that's how I felt, like we were floating on air...haha) and Riley took the lead and spoke with MAH and shook his hand and then I did too! Wow wow wow!!
And I actually spoke in complete sentences for a change and he was very gracious and made of bit of small talk with Riley and me and then that was it. He went on his way and Riley and I about died from being so happy that we got a 'close encounter' with MAH.
After that, Riley and I went to a nearby restaurant and then went to watch some of the final round of the amateur piano competition. We parted ways after that, Riley went back to Orchestra Hall, and I stayed with the competition people because there was a dinner afterwards for everybody.
Here are few photos of Riley and me at Symphony Center and also a couple photos of Mark Hensley.