Former Utahn Kevin Kenner won the top prize awarded Saturday in the prestigious 12th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition.
The jury awarded no first prize, apparently agreeing with the audience that the competitors performed with technical skill but no genius. Deliberations continued for three hours past the scheduled announcement.Kenner, a San Diego resident studying in Hanover, Germany, was awarded the silver medal with a prize of $2,100.
A former Utah Symphony-Deseret News "Salute to Youth" soloist, Kenner was a finalist in the 1988 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. Earlier this year he was awarded third prize in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow.
"I am happy and relieved," said Kenner, 27, as he was hugged by his wife and his teacher in the lobby of the National Philharmonic Hall, where the three-week competition was staged.
Yukio Yokoyama, a 19-year-old Tokyo native studying in Paris, won the third-prize bronze medal, with a prize of $1,575.
Fourth places went to Corrado Rollero, 21, of Italy, and Margarita Shevchenko, 23, of the Soviet Union. Fifth places were awarded to Anna Malikova, 25, of the Soviet Union and Takako Takahashi, 26, of Japan.
The competition has been staged since 1927 to honor Chopin, the composer born in 1810 near Warsaw. He studied at the Warsaw Conservatory but settled in Paris, where he gave his first concert in 1831 and went on to use his romantic compositions to establish the piano as a solo instrument.
The winner was to be announced by the jury at 11 p.m. Friday but was not presented until about 2 a.m. Saturday. Meanwhile, the anxious contestants mingled with autograph seekers and an international audience of Chopin enthusiasts.
Only one American has ever won the first prize, Garrick Ohlsson in 1970, and none have placed second.
Kenner, born in 1963 in Coronado, Calif., studied with a Polish-American teacher before attending the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore.
He called the judge's withholding of a first prize "disappointing" but "very strange and very interesting."