The first award ceremony of this new international piano competition was held last Monday at the legendary Teatro alla Scala in Milan. The PIAM is organized by Enrica Ciccarelli and the Foundation La Società dei Concerti. It pays tribute to Antonio Mormone and provides long-term support to the winners. An important figure in Milan’s cultural life, Antonio Mormone (1930–2017) has long promoted young pianists, including Evgeny Kissin, the Honorary President of this year’s PIAM.
The competition brought together pianists aged eighteen to twenty-eight years, and included three rounds. After an initial selection by video conference, ten pianists participated in the semi-finals, which were held in different locations over a period of six months. The “traveling jury” – a special feature of the PIAM – included several piano stars (Ingolf Wunder, Alexei Volodin, Olga Kern) and a panel of world-class teachers, conductors and directors of cultural institutes. The jury appreciated the talent of the semi-finalists in regular concerts and specially organized recitals in Rome and Milan.
Cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the final was held in Milan from July 7 to 11 and featured three pianists: Su Yeon Kim, Piotr Pawlak and Ying Li. It consisted of a recital, a chamber music concert and a concert with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Teatro alla Scala conducted by Toshiyuki Kamioka, which was broadcast on television and widely reviewed in the press. For all these events, the candidates played exclusively on a brand-new C. Bechstein D 282 concert grand made available by our partner Fabbrini Pianos, who also ensured perfect preparation of the instrument to offer the candidates the optimum conditions. (All the concerts and recitals from the final are available on the YouTube channel of the Premio Internazionale Antonio Mormone.)
The three finalists
Piotr Pawlak gave a brilliant performance of Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto. The twenty-two-year-old pianist from Gdansk, Poland, has already won several Chopin prizes and was the youngest participant in the 2015 Warsaw International Chopin Competition.
South Korean pianist Su Yeon Kim, who had just returned from Canada where she won First Prize at the Montréal International Music Competition, performed Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with great intensity.
But it was Ying Li who won the final with her interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in such an accomplished way that she moved the audience at the Teatro alla Scala to tears. A Chinese national of Korean descent, Ying Li studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Seymour Lipkin and Jonathan Biss. She has been enrolled since autumn 2019 at New York’s Juilliard School, where she is working on a PhD under the direction of Robert McDonald. In addition to her success at the 2021 edition of the Montréal competition, she also won the First Prize at the Sarasota National Piano Competition. She is also a chamber music enthusiast and a member of the AYA trio in Philadelphia.
The PIAM prize is endowed with 30,000 euros and includes a one-year contract with Baldrighi Artists Management, a recording on the Universal label and a series of concerts in Italy, Germany and the U.S.
Moreover, the Carl Bechstein Prize will allow Ying Li to perform during the 2022/2023 season within the Bechstein concert series held at the Konzerthaus in Berlin. We look forward to welcoming this wonderful pianist.
Photos credits: Accademia Teatro alla Scala