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THE SCOOP | Honens International Piano Competition Announces Ten Semifinalists

By Anya Wassenberg on May 18, 2022

HOnens 2022 NEWS

Canada’s Honens International Piano Competition has announced the ten musicians who will advance to the Semifinals.

The pianists range in age from 21 to 31, and hail from Austria, Hungary, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, and the United States. The Honens prize, at $100,000 CAD, is one of the largest of its kind. Along with the cash award, the 2022 Honens Prize Laureate will also receive three years of assistance in artistic and career development.

“We’re thrilled to welcome these ten outstanding Semifinalists to our Calgary and online audiences this October,” says Honens Artistic Director Jon Kimura Parker in a media release. “The First Jury had a difficult task in selecting just ten pianists to advance from our 50 chosen Quarterfinalists, but each juror offered unique expertise based on their diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.”

The Semifinals of the Honens competition take place in Calgary from October 20 to 28, 2022.

Honens 2022 Semifinalists

The Semifinalists

Ádám Balogh (Hungary) Born into a family of musicians, Ádám made his concerto debut with the Budapest Festival Orchestra at age 13. He’s since played with a number of orchestras in his native Hungary and beyond, with previous competition wins at the Jenö Takács Competition (Austria), the Chopin Competition (Hungary), among others. He’s currently pursuing his Master’s degree with Arie Vardi in Hannover.

Rachel Breen (United States) Rachel received a bachelor’s degree with honours from Julliard, and went on to a dual master’s program at the Hannover Hochschule für Musik and Yale School of Music (Connecticut). She’s previously won prizes at the International Beethoven Piano Competition (Vienna), and the Livorno International Piano Competition, among others. She is looking forward to the release of her CD of minority composers through the New Muses Project in August 2022.

Łukasz Byrdy (Poland) Łukasz studied at the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań (Poland), and is currently a student at the Universität der Künste Berlin. Previous prize wins include: First Prize at the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Hannover (Germany, 2019), and Third Prize at the IV International Piano Competition “in memoriam Pietro Iadeluca” in Arsoli (Italy, 2016). As a member of Paderewski Piano Trio, Byrdy has also won chamber music competitions. He has performed extensively across the world.

Sae Yoon Chon (South Korea) After winning First Prize at the 2018 Dublin International Piano Competition, Sae Yoon Chon went on to other prizes at international piano competitions in Hong Kong, Valencia, Los Angeles, and Seoul, among others. He’s made his debut at Carnegie Hall, and has performed with many major orchestras. After studies in his native South Korea, he completed a Bacher’s degree on full scholarship at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, and went on to receive an Artist Diploma, winning the Ihnatowycz Prize.

Dmytro Choni (Ukraine) Dmytro has previously won First Prize and the Gold Medal of the Paloma O’Shea Santander International Piano Competition (Spain) and also a laureate of many international piano competitions including the Leeds (England). He regularly performs as a soloist with orchestras such as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Phoenix Symphony. Dmytro is currently studying with Dr. Milana Chernyavska at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria.

George Fu (United States) George has received many accolades for performances that have taken him to venues such as Konzerthaus Berlin, Carnegie Hall (New York), Wigmore Hall and Kings Place (London). He’s played with the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and other major orchestras. After a bachelor’s in economics from Harvard, Fu studied at the Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia), and at the Royal Academy of Music (London).

Simon Karakulidi (Russia) Siberian pianist Simon Karakulidi has been living in the United States since 2016. He received his master’s degree at the Yale School of Music (Connecticut). Previous prize wins include Second Prize at Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, and First Prize at the Hellam International Concerto Competition in 2021, among others.

Aleksandra Kasman (United States) Aleksandra (Sasha) Kasman is busy as a soloist and teacher around the world, including recitals at Steinway Hall (New York City), Yamaha Ginza Hall (Tokyo), Salle Cortot (Paris), and Teatro Carlo Felice (Genoa). Born into a musical family, she began studies early. With an M.M. degree from Juilliard, Kasman is a Rackham doctoral candidate at the SMTD of the University of Michigan.

Illia Ovcharenko (Ukraine) While currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv, Illia has already performed with many major orchestras, including the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, and the Versailles Conservatory String Orchestra, among others. A recipient of the Polonsky Fellowship in 2019 and again in 2021, he studied at the Aspen Music Festival (Colorado).

Philipp Scheucher (Austria) Philipp’s talent was recognized at the age of ten, and he began his studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts in his native Graz, Austria. He is currently studying on an artist diploma at the Royal College of Music in London, while also pursuing a performing career in some of the world’s major venues. He has released three recordings, most recently in 2022.

What to expect

Here’s a breakdown of what will take place.

  • October 20 to 24: each Semifinalist performs two recitals, including a newly commissioned 8-minute work by Canadian pianist-composer Stewart Goodyear and a 60-minute solo / collaborative recital with violinist Martin Beaver.
  • Three pianists will then advance to the finals, taking place October 27 and 28.
  • Each will play a Mozart concerto with the Viano String Quartet, a set of Schubert lieder with mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó, and a concerto of their choosing with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Jeffrey Kahane.
  • The competition also includes a 30-minute interview with an arts journalist.

The winner will be announced on October 28, at the end of the competition performances.

The jury comprises Michel Béroff, Earl Blackburn, Katherine Chi, Imogen Cooper, Stewart Goodyear, Ick-Choo Moon, and Orli Shaham.

Along with the first prize awards, additional cash prizes to be awarded include:

  • Two Raeburn (Finalist) Prizes of $10,000 CAD each;
  • Seven Semifinalist Awards of $2,500 CAD each;
  • Best Performance of the Commissioned Work of $2,500 CAD;
  • Best Performance of a Beethoven Violin Sonata of $2,500 CAD;
  • And, an Audience Award of $2,500 CAD.

Competition Passes and single tickets are available now here. Honens will also continue presenting a free livestream of the Competition to its global audience in partnership with IDAGIO.


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