Epinal: Detectives in search of clues on the score


New music by Jean-Frédéric Neuburger at the Epinal International Piano Competition


After a week of intensive listening at the Theatre Municipal to select the four finalists from among 48 candidates, it was at La Rotonde de Thaon-les-Vosges that the seven members of the jury, including its president and former candidate, HieYon Choi, awarded the different prizes of this 29th piano competition.

They were still nine engaged in the semi-finals on Friday March 24. Nine candidates who, at the start of their recital, had to submit to an imposed exercise: interpreting a contemporary lullaby. A five-minute piece specially composed for the occasion by a former winner of the competition, Jean-Frédéric Neuburger.

"The candidate is alone in front of his score, and he is a bit like a detective who goes in search of clues on the score to try to understand the composer's approach, what he wanted to say, and he must he appropriates it and offers a convincing version, to the jury and to the public", explains Olivier Moulin, the president of the Epinal International Piano Competition.

Only indication for the candidates: the tempo. For the rest, it's up to them to seize the piece, as explained by Japanese pianist Rina Saito, whose career ended in the semi-finals: "It's important to create an atmosphere around the piece, there's no there are no references or recordings of this lullaby, so everything is played with our imagination".


Stefan Bonev, First Prize

Leo de Maria, Second Prize

Nanaho Ishikawa, Third Prize

First Prize: Stefan Bonev (29)
Second Prize: Leo de Maria (27)
Third Prize: Nanaho Ishikawa

HieYon Choi (Chair), Isabelle Dubuis, Konrad Elser, Vardan Maman, Serhiy Salov, Alvaro Teixeira Lopes, Dina Yoffe

Orchestre National de Metz Grand Est, Joanna Natalia Slusarczyk (Conductor)

The Epinal International Piano Competition was created in 1970 by Madame Suzanne Chevalier. It was an emanation of the “Concours Artistique d’Epinal” (which still exists) at the instigation of Monsieur Albert Ehrmann, President of the Confédération Musicale de France and President of the Order of the Musicians.

In 1972, it was decided that the competition would be biennal and the fourth competition, held in 1973, hosted twenty competitors. The first price was awarded to a young Filipino, Maria-Louisa Lopez-Vito.

With the help of the Conservatoire’s Professor Yankoff, the Competition became a real cultural event and, in 1979, the competition was granted the agreement of the World Federation of International Music Competitions of Geneva.

©WFIMC/ 2023