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Inspiring Young Artists Compete in UNISA International Piano Competition

As interest in the UNISA Music Foundation’s work and competitions continues to grow within and beyond South Africa’s borders, more and more young, up-and-coming artists are vying for an opportunity to showcase their musical talent – as seen by the high number of entries received this year.

‘Almost 70 entries were received for the classical and jazz categories collectively, with many Russian and Korean entrants in the classical section, and numerous US-based jazz pianists also applying,’ says Prof Karendra Devroop, artistic director of the 13th Unisa International Piano Competition. Thirty finalists were subsequently selected from these, including the four South African finalists – Willem de Beer and Megan-Geoffrey Prins (classical), and Lungelo Ngcobo and Kyle Shepherd (jazz) – who were finalists in this year’s 5th Unisa National Piano Competition, and thus gained automatic entry into the international competition.

With each category winner set to walk away with R200 000 in prize money, not to mention the opportunity to play in front of a live audience of almost 1 000 people in the ZK Matthews Great Hall in Pretoria, Devroop says that this is the opportunity of a lifetime for many of these artists. ‘Most of these young musicians are just embarking on their careers – and building up their audience and fan base. The competition has been designed with a view to help them do exactly that: showcase their talent, share it with others and leave a lasting impression that creates a fan base they can grow around the world. Given the high calibre of finalists, as well as the noteworthy judging panel including jazz pianists Peter Beets (Netherlands) and Kevin Harris (US), and classical experts Prof Musa Rubackyte (France) and Prof David Ascanio (Venezuela), all competitors will undoubtedly be motivated and similarly inspired throughout the various rounds as well.’

Each pianist will have the opportunity to prove themselves in the first two rounds (to be held during the week of 26 January 2016) – after which the first elimination round will take place. ‘The semi-final will comprise a recital by each of the twelve remaining competitors, with three jazz and three classical finalists being selected by the jury. They will then each compete in the grand finale – complete with jazz rhythm section or full concert orchestra – on 5 and 6 February 2016 respectively,’ says Devroop. Because all of the rounds are accumulative, performances in previous rounds will count towards the end result, making it about consistently exceptional performance.

With so much – literally – to play for, Devroop says that pianists in both categories are undoubtedly already hard at work preparing their repertoires for late January. ‘We look forward to the privilege of sharing and showcasing their talent through the competition – and encourage music lovers to set aside the 25 January to 6 February to join us for what promises to be an incredible experience,’ he concludes.

Tickets will be available for both final evenings from Computicket and early bookings are encouraged. Elimination round tickets will be available at the door. For more information visit

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