After 36 tense hours of piano playing (not to mention the nail-biting between rounds), the winners of the 2005 Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition were announced Saturday. Sixteen-year-old Kuok-Wai Lio, from Hong Kong, emerged as the first-prize winner and will take home a $7,000 cash prize.
Second prize, with a $5,000 award, went to 15-year-old Lukas Geniusas of Russia. Christina Naughton (15 years old, United States) won third prize and a $4,000 award, Zuo Zhang (16 years old, China) won fourth prize and $3,000, Alessandro Deljavan (18 years old, Italy) took fifth prize and $2,000, and Hitomi Maeyama (18 years old, Japan) won sixth prize and $1,000. The Peer Jury Prize of $500 went to Zhang.
The competition gathered young pianists, age 14-18, from around the world to demonstrate their remarkable talent and capabilities. During the past five days, each contestant had a chance to play a total of 60 minutes of music before eliminations were made for the final round. The six chosen finalists played in a recital Saturday night, where each demonstrated his or her ability to play part of a concerto with an accompanist. A peer jury, made up of local pianists ages 14-18, adjudicated the Peer Jury Prize.
In the final round, Lio made a strong showing with his performance of Beethoven's Concerto No. 4 in G Major, first movement. His performance demonstrated a wide palette of emotions and colors, ranging from delicate to impassioned while always staying within the style of the composer. Geniusas' romantic performance of Rachmaninoff's Concerto in F-Sharp Major was at its best when his accomplished technique and fiery feeling combined for an exciting cadenza.