Today was a rest day for the jury members and a practice day for the contestants who will be moving on to the second stage of the 2016 USA International Harp Competition.
There were a few afternoon concerts today for the public to enjoy. The first was a Composer’s Forum, which featured the works by the finalist and semifinalists from the 2015 Composition Contest. Originally, 114 scores were submitted by composers from 34 different countries, making it the largest contest to date. Seven of these works were performed during the Composer’s Forum. Jeremiah Siochi, winner of the Composition Contest, spoke about his composition and answered questions from audience members and composer forum performers regarding his composition and composing career.
Next, Yu Ying Chen, winner of the 19th International Harp Contest in Israel, performed a solo recital. This is a new collaboration between the Israel Harp Competition and the USA Harp Competition in which the winners of each competition will perform at the others’ upcoming competition.
One of the biggest challenges of the USAIHC competition is the preparation for four stages of music. Three pieces are required for the first stage; the second stage requires four pieces; stage three is a forty-minute recital (with two required pieces included in the recital time); and the final stage is a required Concerto with orchestra accompaniment. Combined, the requirements total more than two hours of music- all memorized except the Composition Contest winning work. So how do the students manage to learn this much music, memorize, and then maintain each piece at an extremely high level? I asked a few students to explain their preparation process from the time the repertoire was announced two years ago to the start of the competition.
“I started early and made lots of short-term goals! I also was sure to create plenty of performance opportunities. I played at nursing homes, concert halls, classrooms, churches and house recitals! It was vital towards becoming comfortable with all the music.” – Rachel Hall, USA
“In my opinion, if you take time to learn the repertoire, it is not so difficult to prepare for this competition. I think it is better to work on the pieces for enough time before the start of the competition because the pieces need to grow.” Antonella de Franco, Italy
“I started preparing for this competition as soon as there was a repertoire list.. so that was two years ago. Some of the pieces I already knew, like Salzedo’s Scintillation. Some took quite a while to learn. I tried to learn everything before the new piece (Sublimation) arrived and then focused on learning that piece when it was announced.”- Valeria Voshchennikova, Russia
“I took it one step at a time and made sure I was maintaining and performing the repertoire I already knew as I learned new pieces.”-Naomi Hoffmeyer, USA
“I was preparing my final recital at the same time so I could play the pieces which were set repertoire for the competition. I started about two years in advance so I had enough time to learn.” – Klara Woskowiak, Poland
“It’s very important to work well piece by piece and not altogether. I prepared all the pieces a long time ago, so I’ve had the time to let the repertoire grow.” – Valerio Lisci, Italy
“I had lessons and masterclasses with different teachers on the repertoire, particularly the pieces I didn’t know as well. I also was able to perform each of the stages in recitals, at school, as well as concerts at home.”- Abigail Kent, USA
Stage II begins tomorrow at 9 AM in Recital Hall (same location as stage I). Good luck to all the contestants!