Well, No. 1 went to No. 2. Meaning the second man up, West Germany's Joachim Arnold, drew the dreaded No. 1 ticket, making him the first of 57 competitors to perform in this year's Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition.
The drawing came at the conclusion of the contest's opening ceremonies Monday in Symphony Hall. Earlier the judges and competitors were welcomed by Gov. Norm Bangerter, followed by a "monster concert" involving as many as 16 pianists on eight pianos ranged around the stage.Preliminary rounds began Tuesday at the hall. By Friday evening each of the competitors will have been heard in two 15-minute recital programs, after which the jury will narrow the field to 20.
This is the ninth year for the now-biennial event, which has grown from a campus-based event begun in 1976 at Brigham Young University to a competition attracting pianists from all over the world for prizes totaling more than $100,000.
Monday the hall was nearly full for the opening festivities, the audience extending its welcome to each of the contestants, who this year hail from 19 countries including Poland and the People's Republic of China. A particularly hearty burst of applause greeted the introduction of Utah native Andrew Iverson, who will be competing for the second year. Iverson drew No. 7. Jamaica's Paul Shaw, who drew No. 1 four years ago, this time ended up with No. 50.
Leading off the musical portion of the program, the American Piano Quartet (formerly the BYU Piano Quartet) performed two-piano settings of Liszt's "Rakoczy March" - the 15th of his "Hungarian Rhapsodies" - and Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever," the latter skillfully transcribed by quartet member Mack Wilberg.
A number of jury members and former Bachauer medalists then joined the team for Israeli composer Ron Weidberg's "Introduction, Chromatic Fugue and Circus Polka" for eight pianos and an eight-piano arrangement of Rossini's "Semiramide" Overture. I found the latter a relief after the excesses of the Weidberg, whose enthusiastic scoring cannot conceal the fact that the work adds up to little more than a variably dissonant assault on the senses."
The competition continues through next week at the hall, the final round June 24 and 25 featuring six of the competitors in complete concertos with the Utah Symphony under music director Joseph Silverstein.
For times and ticket availability contact the Utah Symphony box office (533-6407) or the Bachauer office (521-9200).