Friday, July 16, 1999

3 pianists to play here for gold

Lincoln Center recital top prize

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Three pianists with dreams of concert careers will compete for the gold medal in the World Piano Competition Saturday in the Aronoff Center's Jarson-Kaplan Theater.

        The grand prize is a debut recital in New York's Lincoln Center. The silver medalist will win $3,000 and the bronze will win $2,000.

        “I'm just going to do my best,” says finalist Sean Botkin, 29, a Seattle resident who studies at Indiana University with Alexander Toradze. He won sixth prize in the 1998 Gina Bachauer Piano Competition. “I'll enjoy it more than the other rounds because there are no more to advance to. I'll just have fun and play out.”

        The three finalists, who also include Molly Kiser, 27, and Oleg Poliansky, 30, won over three others on Wednesday. They will each play a concerto movement in the final round.

        “The level of playing is high,” says jury member Sandra Rivers, who is on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. “It's not cutthroat; the contestants are supportive of each other. These are veterans of competition.”

        Ms. Kiser, who is a student of Peter Serkin at the Juilliard School, was practicing Brahms' Concerto No. 2 in B-flat early Thursday. She feels confident. “I'm just happy that I'm playing that piece,” she says.

        Mr. Poliansky, who studies in Cologne, Germany, was worried when the jury stopped him midway through Stravinsky's Petroushka on Wednesday. “I felt a little bit nervous, but it's exciting to be in the finals,” he says.

        Mr. Poliansky, came in sixth in the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow last year, will play a movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1.

        The World Orchestra, led by jury chairman Anthony Aibel of Washington's National Symphony, will accompany the competitors. The other jury members are Timothy Ehlen and Oleg Marshev, both former World Piano Competition winners, and Naoyuki Taneda of Kyoto, Japan.

        The other winners on Wednesday were Julija Botchkovskaia, 28, who won fourth prize ($1,000); Natalya Pasichnyk, 28, who took fifth ($500); and Kensei Yamaguchi, 30, who came in sixth ($300).

        The finals are at 5 p.m. Saturday in Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center. Tickets: $15, $25: 241-7469.


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