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#2032697 - 02/13/13 09:15 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]  
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Mark,
Thanks for the info! It didn't occur to me that someone was warming up with the Schubert. Does that mean that you're allowed warm-up time on stage before you perform? I assumed that folks had to warm up in a practice room or something, then go out on stage and jump right in to his/her piece.

I wish they'd included even more bonus material on the disc. Heck, I'd like to see a full performance from every competitor. Guess I'll have to go to Fort Worth some day for that!

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#2032779 - 02/14/13 12:28 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: quodlibet]  
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Originally Posted by quodlibet
It didn't occur to me that someone was warming up with the Schubert. Does that mean that you're allowed warm-up time on stage before you perform? I assumed that folks had to warm up in a practice room or something, then go out on stage and jump right in to his/her piece....

First of all, I was wrong about nobody having programmed the piece -- and I think I know who this was. I started looking through the program book, and it didn't take me very long going through the alphabetical order to get to someone who did list the piece (1st mvt only), and who probably did succeed in getting to the round where he would have played it.

Once I found that, I was able to find a video of him playing the movement, perhaps of the performance at that competition.
It's the first video on this page.

His name is Michael Brounoff and I actually know him a bit, so I'm extra surprised that I had no recollection of the piece having been part of that event. We've been together at several of the Cliburn amateur competitions, we played some 4-hand music together at an evening party during one of them, and sat together in a group at the same table for the post-competition dinner at the last one.

About the last part of what you said up there: Yes, you get to try the piano, not during "warm up" but earlier in the day or on the previous day. Everyone gets 7 minutes, which might not sound like a lot, but as these things go, that's real good. And besides that, there's plenty of actual "warm-up" before your performance. You get 45 minutes on a good practice piano in the building next door, then they pick you up and walk you to the green room in the auditorium, where (if memory serves -- I can't believe I don't remember this for sure after having been in that competition about a trillion times!) I think there's another piano that you warm up on some more for a few minutes before going on stage.

They treat you very nicely there. smile

#2033004 - 02/14/13 12:57 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]  
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Thank you so much for the info and the link! I love hearing details about the competition so I can live vicariously. I will likely never make it there as a competitor, but I do really want to go some day as an audience member. Maybe in 2015 (which I'm guessing is when the next one would be).

#2033013 - 02/14/13 01:12 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: quodlibet]  
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Originally Posted by quodlibet
....I will likely never make it there as a competitor, but I do really want to go some day as an audience member....

That's how I got started in this whole thing!

I went to the first amateur Cliburn as an audience member, out of curiosity, especially because some friends were in it. And I caught the bug. ha

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#2033144 - 02/14/13 05:40 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]  
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I think having pianists with a doctorate from the Moscow Conservatory competing in an amateur competition is like having Roger Federer compete in the local amateur tennis tournament 10 years after he retires from professional tennis.

I think this topic has come up before at PW but this situation seem particularly outrageous. I don't think many would consider him an amateur even if he pursued another career after graduation.

Why would anyone with training like that want to compete in an "amateur" competition? I realize that the Cliburn isn't the only competition that allows this kind of situation, but I find it outrageous and almost pathetic. What is he trying to prove?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/14/13 05:45 PM.
#2033163 - 02/14/13 05:54 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]  
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He himself said in the documentary that he wanted to show that "he can still do it" which he said (perhaps jokingly) his wife doubted. He was working in IT after arriving in the US, because he needed the money.
Still, i get your point, he had a slightly unfair advantage of long professional training. That he still didn't sweep the competition of passionate amateurs speaks for itself.

#2033190 - 02/14/13 06:26 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Sorcerer88]  
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Originally Posted by Sorcerer88
He himself said in the documentary that he wanted to show that "he can still do it" which he said (perhaps jokingly) his wife doubted. He was working in IT after arriving in the US, because he needed the money.
Still, i get your point, he had a slightly unfair advantage of long professional training. That he still didn't sweep the competition of passionate amateurs speaks for itself.
If that is his reason, I don't consider it particularly good. He doesn't have to enter a competition to see if he can still do it. He should just give a free concert at some local venue.

#2033227 - 02/14/13 07:35 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
....Why....

this post

#2033239 - 02/14/13 07:55 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
....Why....

this post
No

#2033379 - 02/14/13 10:54 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Yes. ha

I know the guy. You don't.

And BTW I'm pretty honest. grin

#2033541 - 02/15/13 07:10 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
I know the guy.
Knowing the guy has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not people like him should be allowed to enter amateur competitions.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/15/13 07:11 AM.
#2033663 - 02/15/13 12:06 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Mark_C
I know the guy.
Knowing the guy has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not people like him should be allowed to enter amateur competitions.

Correct.

But take a look at what I've been replying to in those 2 posts.

I'm very specific about such things. smile

Maybe you forgot or didn't realize what your "Why" was about. That's what kicked this off.

#2033716 - 02/15/13 01:48 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think having pianists with a doctorate from the Moscow Conservatory competing in an amateur competition is like having Roger Federer compete in the local amateur tennis tournament 10 years after he retires from professional tennis.

I think this topic has come up before at PW but this situation seem particularly outrageous. I don't think many would consider him an amateur even if he pursued another career after graduation.

Why would anyone with training like that want to compete in an "amateur" competition? I realize that the Cliburn isn't the only competition that allows this kind of situation, but I find it outrageous and almost pathetic. What is he trying to prove?


He wants F A M E! What else? But if they do not allow ex-professionals to join amateur competitions, the competitions will be boring, it will be a bunch of middle age people playing intermediate to early advance pieces. It is a high percentage of the people who joined amateur competitions have piano performance degree. People who do not have piano degree are not many, and very few of them can play well. It is not a surprise. To play convincingly, ones need a lot of training and dedication. People with piano degree had had enough training and playing hour in front of public.

Anyway, joining amateur competition is fun, and a good way to motivate many people to practice piano. Regardless the result, we will keep getting better by practicing for a piano competition.

#2033815 - 02/15/13 05:02 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]  
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That's also not true, Steinway. Actually, most of the people who participated in the Cliburn Amateur competition didn't have a degree in piano. There are very dedicated, passionate amateurs that chose a different profession and still put a lot of time into piano practice and are very convincing to listen to, comparable to professional pianists.
Fuller - lawyer
Mark C - psychologist
Henry Delbeau - doctor of medicine
Griffin - IT specialist
..

the list goes on. I don't think any of these have degrees in piano, and they're excellent (amateur) pianists.

#2033831 - 02/15/13 05:41 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Sorcerer88]  
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Originally Posted by Sorcerer88
That's also not true, Steinway. Actually, most of the people who participated in the Cliburn Amateur competition didn't have a degree in piano. There are very dedicated, passionate amateurs that chose a different profession and still put a lot of time into piano practice and are very convincing to listen to, comparable to professional pianists.
Fuller - lawyer
Mark C - psychologist
Henry Delbeau - doctor of medicine
Griffin - IT specialist
..

the list goes on. I don't think any of these have degrees in piano, and they're excellent (amateur) pianists.


Henry has BA and MA in Music (please click the link below) http://www.robertaonthearts.com/ins...0with%20Dr%20Henri-Robert%20Delbeau.html

Griffin has composition degree from Curtis (not just a state school).

People like Fuller (not sure with the background). Looking at his repertoire, it is too good for a pure amateur, he could be a half way conservatory student or a prodigy. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/amateur-piano-competition/id262628850

Mark C is considered a real amateur pianist who is passionate about playing.

As I said many times, generally only ex-prodigies and people with high music education can win big amateur competition. The background gap between pure amateurs and the top quality amateurs is too big.

#2033838 - 02/15/13 05:55 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]  
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Okay, didn't know about Henry's and Griffin's degrees. But they are probably still in the minority. And if you flag all others as "prodigies" who put a lot of time into the piano (which, in my eyes, is how a "prodigy" is created"), then of course you limit the "amateur" label and the people that fall under it in amateur competitions quite a lot. I do think you can compete as a "real" amateur, if you put a lot of time into it, and there are many examples in the Cliburn. Also, most "amateurs" say their goal is not winning the competition anyways, it's all about the passion.

#2033840 - 02/15/13 06:01 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Sorcerer88]  
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Sorcerer: Thanks for your good posts. There's a fair amount of truth in what Ronald said, including that most of the contestants who place near the top are from the arguably-professional group, but he overstated it. My main quibble with his post is that many of the real real amateurs in these events, not "very few," do play very well.

BTW "psychologist" isn't exactly right but close enough. grin

#2033859 - 02/15/13 06:38 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: RonaldSteinway]  
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Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think having pianists with a doctorate from the Moscow Conservatory competing in an amateur competition is like having Roger Federer compete in the local amateur tennis tournament 10 years after he retires from professional tennis.

I think this topic has come up before at PW but this situation seem particularly outrageous. I don't think many would consider him an amateur even if he pursued another career after graduation.

Why would anyone with training like that want to compete in an "amateur" competition? I realize that the Cliburn isn't the only competition that allows this kind of situation, but I find it outrageous and almost pathetic. What is he trying to prove?


He wants F A M E! What else? But if they do not allow ex-professionals to join amateur competitions, the competitions will be boring, it will be a bunch of middle age people playing intermediate to early advance pieces. It is a high percentage of the people who joined amateur competitions have piano performance degree. People who do not have piano degree are not many, and very few of them can play well. It is not a surprise. To play convincingly, ones need a lot of training and dedication. People with piano degree had had enough training and playing hour in front of public.
I think this is partially true. I think part of the reason contests like the Cliburn allow people with not only performance degrees but advanced performance degrees is so that the finalists will sound impressive. I really can't think of any good reason for someone like Slava to participate.

OTOH, I think it's an exaggeration to say few of the true amateurs can play "well". They just can't, in general, play as well as conservatory graduates. Many of he ones I listened to struggled quite a bit to play the notes of pieces(admittedly sometimes very advanced works)they chose that often sounded a little beyond their technical ability.

This has all been discussed in other threads and I don't remember if there was any consensus. But I, for one, would much prefer if there was some kind of rule that prevented conservatory graduates from playing even if they had abandoned their performance careers some time ago. I don't think many truly think of these pianists as amateurs.

Perhaps they could limit amateur competitions to those who never played professionally or studied at a conservatory. For me. this would only be a plus.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/15/13 06:40 PM.
#2033874 - 02/15/13 06:59 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Sorcerer88]  
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Originally Posted by Sorcerer88
Okay, didn't know about Henry's and Griffin's degrees. But they are probably still in the minority. And if you flag all others as "prodigies" who put a lot of time into the piano (which, in my eyes, is how a "prodigy" is created"), then of course you limit the "amateur" label and the people that fall under it in amateur competitions quite a lot. I do think you can compete as a "real" amateur, if you put a lot of time into it, and there are many examples in the Cliburn. Also, most "amateurs" say their goal is not winning the competition anyways, it's all about the passion.


This is the statistic of the 25 semifinalists (Highlighted names were finalist).


Daniel Bertram (DMA in piano)
J. Michael Brounoff (real amateur but from very musical family)
Mark Cannon (real amateur)
Barry Coutinho (from India, study music in London)
Darlene Cusick (Master Piano performance)
Andrea De Tomas (Piano degree)
Pablo Eizayaga (real amateur)
Jun Fujimoto (Piano degree, and in music industry)
Mark Fuller (Lawyer - unknown musical background)
Clark Griffith (Composition - Curtis)
Martha Chestnut Hartman (Master Degree in Piano from Indiana)
Ken Iisaka (Ex-prodigy)
Jane Gibson King (Master Piano performance)
Iona Luke (unknown)
Thomas A. Maurice (BA and MA in piano performance)
Joseph Mercuri (unknown)
Valentina Rodov (from Moscow Consevatory)
Christopher Sarzynski (Prodigy)
Christopher Shih (Ex-real Van Cliburn competitor, must be prodigy)
Vincent J. Schmithorst (Piano degree)
Dominic Piers Smith (Study music at Trinity - Prodigy)
Madalyn Bingham Taylor (piano degree and piano teacher)
Angela Lee Tien (Julliard MA Piano performance)
Eberhard Zagrosek (real amateur)
Jorge Zamora (Piano degree from Cleveland Institute)

#2033960 - 02/15/13 10:17 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]  
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Ah, nice statistics, that does give quite a clear advantage to people with degrees. But i really don't think you need to extend your point any further with all this prodigy business, because that's hard to define. Also, why would a prodigy, even an "ex-prodigy", not be an amateur?

I definitely didn't know that most semifinalists had a piano degree though, you have a point. Still, some amateurs manage to compete with them!

Last edited by Sorcerer88; 02/15/13 10:17 PM.
#2033995 - 02/15/13 11:58 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
....I think part of the reason contests like the Cliburn allow people with not only performance degrees but advanced performance degrees is so that the finalists will sound impressive....

I think so too, especially since you said "part of," but I'd put this thing differently: I'd say to make it a better event -- which it does, IMO including for us 'real amateur' contestants. I would feel very bad -- truly very bad -- if they were excluded. I'd have a better chance to win, or probably the way I should put it is I'd have a chance to win ha but I would not be happy about it.

I think the bigger reason such people are "allowed" into the competition is that it's simply impossible to come up with a perfect definition of "outstanding amateur." Choices have to be made, hard and fast lines have to be drawn, it's extremely hard to know what the best lines are, and I think it comes down to whether you want to be more careful about whom you exclude or about whom you allow -- how important it is to exclude so-and-so if the side effect is that you'll also be excluding genuine amateurs. As I've mentioned in the past, I think I'm a good example of the difficulty of this, because even though I think we'd all agree I'm a "real amateur," in fact I have things on paper that some would argue in theory make me a non-amateur, including having played many solo recitals over a long period of time, having performed with orchestra, and having been (reasonably) favorably reviewed. With no false modesty, I think the only clear reason I'm an amateur is that I'm not that good -- and that can't be a criterion. I think the Cliburn does as good a job as any and better than most in drawing the lines, especially because of their making the minimum age be 35 rather than something lower. IMO the biggest issue of how the competitions 'draw the line' isn't anything about what's been mentioned here so far, but admitting people young enough that they're in the process of becoming professionals; the only thing making them "amateurs" is that they're too young to have established anything yet as a primary career. I think the presence of such contestants changes the entire atmosphere of the event to a student/conservatory type of thing, and with the emphasis being on the qualities that professional competitions are infamous for. I don't think that happens with older contestants of the kind that are being complaining about here.

#2034006 - 02/16/13 12:08 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: RonaldSteinway]  
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Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway

Ken Iisaka (Ex-prodigy)



I'm wondering what has to happen to make a person move from the "prodigy" category to the "ex-prodigy" category. confused


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#2034016 - 02/16/13 12:21 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]  
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Sorry, I used prodigy or ex-prodigy interchangeably. I should use ex-prodigy.

I found out by Googling these people and read their piano history, for example, like Ken Iisaka, he went to Europe after winning something. Only very good kids (prodigies) will go abroad for piano related matters. Actually, most people who got into big name schools can be considered prodigies, may not up to Mozart caliber, but they must be very good since they were small.

#2034018 - 02/16/13 12:31 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]  
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If they do not allow ex-professionals or people with piano degrees in amateur competitions, the competitions will be:

1. Very few participants (It is not easy to find adults who have no piano degree and dare to play in front of people). I know from my first hand experience that it is hard to gather adults who do not have piano degree to come together and play for each other. It is like pulling teeth. Most of them are too afraid to play in front of people.
2. Very boring.

#2034060 - 02/16/13 02:29 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Monica K.]  
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Originally Posted by Monica K.
Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway

Ken Iisaka (Ex-prodigy)



I'm wondering what has to happen to make a person move from the "prodigy" category to the "ex-prodigy" category. confused


You grow up.

#2034154 - 02/16/13 09:29 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
[quote=pianoloverus]

I think the bigger reason such people are "allowed" into the competition is that it's simply impossible to come up with a perfect definition of "outstanding amateur." Choices have to be made, hard and fast lines have to be drawn, it's extremely hard to know what the best lines are, and I think it comes down to whether you want to be more careful about whom you exclude or about whom you allow -- how important it is to exclude so-and-so if the side effect is that you'll also be excluding genuine amateurs. As I've mentioned in the past, I think I'm a good example of the difficulty of this, because even though I think we'd all agree I'm a "real amateur," in fact I have things on paper that some would argue in theory make me a non-amateur, including having played many solo recitals over a long period of time, having performed with orchestra, and having been (reasonably) favorably reviewed.
But have you been paid anything(other than perhaps an honorarium) for the performances?

I think simply saying no conservatory graduates allowed in the amateur would be suitable as a start. Almost no rule will be perfect but almost any rule would IMO be far better than the present situation which I find bordering on ridiculous with the word "amateur" in the competition's name. It's not necessary to come up with a perfect definition. What's necessary is to change the way any competition with the name "amateur" is done.

It's kind of like the gun laws. Maybe no rules are perfect but many think that some change no matter how imperfect would be far better than the status quo.

How many people would call those with performance degrees amateurs even if they've done other careers after graduation? I found the list of the contestants that had piano performance degrees or similar credentials shocking.

I can't fathom how contestants with conservatory degrees wouldn't be embarrassed to even enter an amateur competition. Perhaps it's just because, at least in the Cliburn, so many do it. Kind of like all the people taking performance enhancing drugs in cycling..."everyone else's doing it, so I can do it also."

Another option would be to clearly state up front for anyone viewing the competition that the rules allow conservatory graduates but also having a separate and differently named competition for those with conservatory degrees(or however one wants to make the rule). This would clearly bring the level of the amateur competition down but at least things would be honest and transparent in both competitions.

The whole thing as it stands is, I think, rather pathetic and highly deceptive. What are these former conservatory students trying to prove? The most obvious answer is that it's some kind of ego trip for them, but if they are thinking correctly it should be embarrassing to compete with true amateurs.

It would be interesting to know during the history of the Cliburn amateur competition what percent of the finalists had performance degrees or similar training. I'm guessing it would be similar to the most recent competition.


Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/16/13 12:00 PM.
#2034230 - 02/16/13 12:41 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]  
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Just a thought. When it comes to "performance degrees," standards vary significantly from institution to institution. I've known a few individuals with degrees in piano performance from lesser schools who probably wouldn't be able to pass the undergraduate entrance auditions for the better universities/conservatories.

Last edited by carey; 02/16/13 12:42 PM.

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#2034249 - 02/16/13 01:11 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
But have you been paid anything(other than perhaps an honorarium) for the performances?....

I'm glad you said that -- because a close look at it shows how hard this is. First of all the answer happens to be yes (unless you want to argue that whatever I got was an honorarium and not getting paid). grin
But even if it were no, I don't think it helps you, because how would you use that for what we're talking about?

It wouldn't help anything to try to use this an an automatic inclusion, i.e. that you're automatically an amateur if you've never gotten paid, which would be the direct thing from what you said. I think almost all of the people who are anywhere close to any border, where any criteria or definitions start mattering, have been paid at some point, unless you want to start a new debate about what's getting paid and what's an honorarium. (BTW I've clearly gotten both, so it wouldn't matter on me.) You couldn't use this thing for anything meaningful unless you want to add another exclusion, essentially the inverse of how you put it: can't ever have gotten paid. I'm not sure that this would exclude any additional people that you want to exclude, and it would exclude a lot of people that you absolutely wouldn't want to.

Maybe you'd say we should add that exclusion too, an extra thing that nobody has mentioned here -- and one could go on and on. You mentioned this (however mistakenly) in response to a specific example. Other specific examples would give rise to yet more criteria to cover what seem to be exceptions. Other people would suggest other additional exclusions they think make perfect sense, just as what you think about the conservatory thing. The Cliburn is already far more exclusive than most of the amateur competitions because you have to be at least 35; you want it to be still more exclusive in the way that you're saying. The line is simply difficult to draw. To me the issue is whether a given competition draws it well. I think the Cliburn draws it extremely well. I know that you don't.

I'm with you on the gun issue, but I hope you'd agree that the Cliburn does a better job on eligibility than we do on guns. grin
The analogy would be closer if people like Kissin and Ax and Argerich were in the amateur competition.

#2034300 - 02/16/13 03:58 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Carey]  
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Originally Posted by carey
Just a thought. When it comes to "performance degrees," standards vary significantly from institution to institution. I've known a few individuals with degrees in piano performance from lesser schools who probably wouldn't be able to pass the undergraduate entrance auditions for the better universities/conservatories.


Very true.

#2034305 - 02/16/13 04:13 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
But have you been paid anything(other than perhaps an honorarium) for the performances?....

I'm glad you said that -- because a close look at it shows how hard this is. First of all the answer happens to be yes (unless you want to argue that whatever I got was an honorarium and not getting paid). grin
But even if it were no, I don't think it helps you, because how would you use that for what we're talking about?

It wouldn't help anything to try to use this an an automatic inclusion, i.e. that you're automatically an amateur if you've never gotten paid, which would be the direct thing from what you said. I think almost all of the people who are anywhere close to any border, where any criteria or definitions start mattering, have been paid at some point, unless you want to start a new debate about what's getting paid and what's an honorarium. (BTW I've clearly gotten both, so it wouldn't matter on me.) You couldn't use this thing for anything meaningful unless you want to add another exclusion, essentially the inverse of how you put it: can't ever have gotten paid. I'm not sure that this would exclude any additional people that you want to exclude, and it would exclude a lot of people that you absolutely wouldn't want to.

I can't imagine how an amateur competition that allows those with a Doctorate from the Moscow conservatory(or similar backgrounds) to compete could be considered to be drawing the line well. And I frankly can't imagine that many would disagree.

As I said, just because is no easy or perfect solution doesn't mean one shouldn't admit the present system is seriously flawed and make an attempt to improve it. Even a less than perfect solution would be far better than leaving things the way they are which IMO is close to being ludicrous. I'd guess at least some amateur competitions have greater restrictions about who can play and those could be a starting point for discussion.

My guess is that the Cliburn amateur is too interested in having the finalists look impressive(which you've already basically agreed with)because they think that will make their competition look impressive, especially to those who don't realize they allow pianists with advanced conservatory degrees. Unfortunately, I think that they don't accomplish their goal by allowing the type of pianist they do.

I find it sad that someone with an advanced conservatory degree would even want to compete in an amateur competition. I can't imagine that some of the best professional pianists who post at PW(the two moderators for example), if they for some reason stopped playing professionally, would decide to enter the Cliburn amateur ten years after starting a new career.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/16/13 04:34 PM.
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