One would think it was children's week at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

It wasn't.

But it was the week for the more than 30 children, ages 11 to 13, who are performing for the junior competition of the Gina Bachauer Piano Competition.

In the lobby, families from all over the world were seen playing and teasing each other, wondering where they would visit next on their trip to the United States.

But once inside the theater, it was a different scene. Under the silent, watchful eyes of nine jurors, the rambunctious kids were transformed into serious pianists.

At center stage, a grand piano was open like a treasure box with golden wood and strings inside reflecting on the polished black instrument.

After sitting on the piano bench, Nayaka Clarence Wianto, 10, from Indonesia, became a part of the instrument. He slightly swayed while playing in his all-black suit and gold necklace that sparkled in the lights.

After the performance, Wianto said he felt he did not do too well.

"There was a slip in the fourth movement," Wianto said. A slip that, if at all, would only be noticed by well-trained ears. He said the click of a camera distracted him during the quiet, calm part of the song.

Jan Vojtek was next. The 12-year-old from the Czech Republic came on stage dressed in a pastel green shirt. While playing the piano, Vojtek's movement was like a leaf playing in the wind of the instrument, changing with the rhythm of the songs he played.

One could hear a pin drop in between songs as Vojtek wiped his hands and the keys for the next song. He was finished in less than 15 minutes.

"That is really quick," said Rosemary Olsen, who is hosting Vojtek and his mother at her Salt Lake home.

She said the total time from when a competitor enters and exits the stage is supposed to be 20 minutes.

Vojtek and his mother had misunderstood this, so they actually cut pieces out of some of the songs he performed.

Apparently, Vojtek tends to play quickly, something about which his teacher constantly reminds him, Olsen said.

When the performances were over for the day, the families planned to take advantage of their free time. Of course those activities would have to wait until after some sleep and additional piano practice.

Olsen and Vojtek's mother, Hana, had planned to take Jan to a museum and the zoo the next day.

Smiles of relief were on both boys' faces when they left the theater. They were back to being kids again.


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