By Robin Wood

The Alaska International Piano-e-Competition starts Sunday and runs through July 12. Four rounds of competition, featuring 23 contestants from 12 countries, will be held at Davis Concert Hall in UAF’s Fine Arts Complex, 312 Tanana Loop. Nine judges brings the total number of visiting nationalities to 15. 

First-round recitals run Sunday through Thursday, 1-10 p.m., during which competitors will play a 60- to 75-minute piece of their choice, from memory. 

Ten pianists will advance to the second round on July 5, noon to 9:30 p.m. Competitors will choose one of seven Schubert Sonatas to perform. 

Five contestants will advance to the final two rounds. The third round on July 7, 2-9:30 p.m., features 30-minute solos of the contestants’ choice and a performance with one of three chamber musicians from UAF. The fourth round from 7-10 p.m. on July 10 and 11,  will be concerto performances with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra. 

There’s an award ceremony, from 7-10 p.m. on July 12, where the top-prize winner will perform their concerto again with the FSO. 

Ticket prices for the competition range $13.50 to $40 per day. 

Medallions designed and cast by Fairbanks artists are among more than $65,000 worth of prizes and performance contracts. Money for the awards comes from state grants, ticket sales and community donations, according to Kirsten Pickard, Enrollment Management and Public Information Officer at UAF’s College of Liberal Arts. 

What makes the e-competition unique, aside from world-class talent competing in Alaska’s first-ever international piano competition, is the Disklavier piano.

Yamaha takes a top-tier concert-grand piano and equips it with fibre optic technology to record the most-minute gradations of key and pedal strokes. The result is a MIDI file, Musical Instrument Digital Interface, that can be exactly replicated and played on any Disklavier without a musician. The e-competition performances will be played on Disklavier pianos, in real time, with synced video, throughout the world.

Alexander Braginsky, Founding President and Artistic Director of International Piano e-Competition, explains the Disklavier technology is important in all stages of the competition. There are nine audition locations around the world, “Contestants that are preselected go there, they perform, and their performances are judged in New York City,” Braginsky said. 

Lindsay Garritson, of New Haven, Connecticut, will be competing in her second International Piano-e-Competition, so she’s used to potential nerves from being broadcast around the world. Garritson said there’s a lot of repertoire for the competition, so any down time will be spent practicing. 

“I love all the pieces I’m playing so I’m really excited just to perform these pieces, regardless of if I advance or not,” Garritson said. 

The roughly $250,000 Disklavier piano — currently on loan from Yamaha, but offered to FSO at a large discount — will be tuned between every performance and maintained by a crew of Yamaha employees. 

Information and tickets are available online at www.uaf.edu/piano.

If you go: 

All events at Davis Concert Hall, prices are per day.

First round, Sunday through Thursday, 1-10 p.m., $15 for adults, $13.50 for children, seniors and active military. 

Second round, July 5, noon -9:30 p.m., $30 for adults, $27 for children, seniors and active military.

Third round, July 7, 2-9:30 p.m., $30 adults, $27 for children, seniors and active military.

Fourth round, July 10-11, 7-10 p.m., $40 for adults, $36 for children, seniors and active military.

Award ceremony, July 12, 7-10 p.m., $40 adults, $36 for children, seniors and active military.

There’s an all access pass for $220

Contact staff writer Robin Wood at 459-7510.