Three Australian pianists are among 32 competitors vying for first prize at the Sydney International Piano Competition.

Three Australian pianists have been selected from a record 283 applicants to compete in the prestigious Sydney International Piano Competition this year.  

Ayesha Gough (Brisbane), Daniel Le (Melbourne) and Hong-Kong born Jeremy So (Sydney) have tackled the first elimination stage to join 29 other pianists for the competition. The international list of 32 talented artists come from as far afield as Russia and Kazakhstan, and will converge on the NSW State capital in July to compete for a stake in the $200,000 prize fund. 

“Our panel of pre-selection jurors meticulously reviewed the application videos and I’m thrilled to announce today an incredibly strong list of Round 1 competitors from fifteen different countries,” said Artist Director Piers Lane AO. “The standard of piano playing in the world is at an all time high and the Sydney audience is in for a treat. There are many more than 32 who could have competed admirably in the Competition, so we wish all those who made it in the best with their preparations.”

Brisbane’s 20-year old Ayesha Gough won the 2015 Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition, and dreams of being a concert pianist. “Not only this, I want to do something for the classical music industry in Australia, especially in terms of inspiring the next generation of concert-goers, as well as supporting new Australian music,” she explained in an interview with The Brisbane Times. Gough placed third in the 2014 Kerikeri International Piano Competition, and frequently engages in chamber music ensembles.

Melbourne-based Daniel Le was awarded the Most Promising Pianist award at the Australian Concerto Competition in 2010, and has performed Satin Saëns’ Piano Concerto No 2 in Tokyo and Gamigori in Japan.  He was a finalist in the 2014 Australian National Piano Award, and is currently on a full scholarship to the Yong Siew Toh conservatory of Music, studying with Professor Thomas Hecht. “I think music for me has always been enjoyable to listen to and to perform,” Le commented in an interview with The Herald Sun. “I hope to push myself to new limits and simply learn more about myself as a performer and as an artist.” 

Jeremy So was born in Hong Kong and moved to Sydney at the age of six, where he studied piano at the Conservatorium High School. In 2012 he completed his final year of an honours degree in Music Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under the tutelage of Alexandra Vinokurov. He was awarded the Special Award to a Promising Performer at the 2011 Southern Highlands International Piano Scholarship, and received the Mary Greville and Bert Coughtrey Scholarship to study with Tatiana Sarkissova at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

The overall SIPCA winner will take home a first prize worth $50,000 plus a number of high-profile engagements for concerto performances organised by illustrious Russian maestro Valery Gergiev, the Artistic Patron of the Competition. “I am pleased to support the Sydney International Piano Competition and young pianists in their career path by giving to the winners an opportunity to perform with me in St Petersburg at the Festival ‘Contemporary Piano Faces’ – Mariinsky International Piano Festival, and in other major cities of Russia and Europe,” he said. The winner will also be offered a partnership with Hyperion Records for an international album release, alongside an Australian national tour and international recitals, including a debut performance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The competition is open to pianists of all nationalities aged 18 to 32, and has been recognised by the World Federation of International Music Competitions almost since its inception in 1977. NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres is honoured that Sydney is the host for such a prestigious competition. “More than 1400 international and domestic visitors are expected to visit NSW for the Sydney International Piano Competition which will be held at two of the state’s most celebrated music venues, the Sydney Opera House and the Conservatorium of Music,” he says. “Open to the public, this is a fantastic opportunity to attend one of the 25 concerts taking place at to hear the world’s most gifted pianists.”

The other 29 competitors include: Philipp Scheucher (Austria), Jianing Kong (China), Ming Xie (China), Moye Chen (China), Yinfei Wang (China), Aljoša Jurinić (Croatia), Lukas Vondracek (Czech Republic), Emanuel Rimoldi (Italy), Leonardo Colafelice (Italy), Akihiro Sakiya (Japan), Oxana Shevchenko (Kazakhstan), Chi Ho Han (Korea), David Jae-Weon Huh (Korea), Ha Gyu Tae (Korea), Jinhyung Park (Korea), Woo-Gil Park (Korea), Alexei Melnikov (Russia), Andrey Gugnin (Russia), Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev (Russia), Ilya Rashkovskiy (Russia), Sergey Belyavskiy (Russia), Martin Malmgren (Sweden), Roman Lopatynskyi (Ukraine), Fantee Jones (USA), Kenneth Broberg (USA), Larry Weng (USA), Lindsay Garritson (USA), Rachel Naomi Kudo (USA/Japan) and Quang Hong Luu (Vietnam).

Concert package tickets for all four concerts are available for $180, with ticket holders also invited to see the competition’s pianists perform with the acclaimed Australian Goldner Quartet, violinist Tasmin Little and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

For more information about the Competition, which runs from July 6-23, visit the SIPCA website. To buy tickets, please visit the Sydney Opera House website or call the Box Office on 02 9250 7777.