Youth piano competition showcases talent, offers scholarships


By Maria Cook

The Carmel Klavier International Piano Competition will soon return to Carmel for its fifth year. From June 27 to July 1, artists ages 5 to18 will compete for awards and scholarships. Competitors represent 16 states and 15 nations, including China, the United Kingdom and Russia. Areas of competition include solo, duet and concerto.

Carmel Klavier President Irina Gorin has more than 35 years of experience teaching piano to grade school students, both in the Ukraine and the U.S. After several years of observing other international piano competitions, Gorin realized there was a need for a more inclusive competition, which could bring youth from around the world to Carmel.

“I always was taking my students to numerous local, national and international competitions and was not happy with politics, venues, judging system, rivalry and high costs in many,” Gorin said. “I always wanted the competition for youth to be a celebration of talent, encouragement and motivation for children. I had this idea of bringing young talents from around the world to Carmel and giving them the opportunity to showcase their talent in beautiful buildings and stages as well as to attract world renown judges and artists to educate the youth and perform for the Carmel community and competition participants.”

In addition to competing for scholarships, such as the $16,000 scholarship offered to a selected finalist by Indiana Wesleyan University, Carmel Klavier participants also compete for a variety of prestigious opportunities. In 2017, 9-year-old Lauren Lo, Fishers, was a recipient of the Contemporary Composer’s Award by Elena Cobb. The award includes an opportunity to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where stars such as The Beatles and Julie Andrews have performed.

“I got to play on Elton John’s red piano,” Lo said after her April 5 performance.

Lo’s mother, Christine Lo, said Carmel Klavier has changed the way her daughter approaches piano.

“The experience has given her more confidence with performing in public and has inspired her to practice even more,” Christine Lo said. “The camaraderie and energy in the recital hall was electric and definitely something she will cherish for a lifetime. Opportunities of this nature are so positive and give young performers like Lauren a chance to connect with other young pianists and to see the world.”

For older competitors, Carmel Klavier can be an important starting point for their musical careers. Ari Brown, Carmel, competed in Carmel Klavier in 2014. He is now 21 years old and studying music composition at the New England Conservatory of Music and Computer Science at Tufts University in Boston.

“Whether or not I won, practicing to compete at the rigorous level set by the Carmel Klavier both developed work ethic and creativity that I can now apply to problem-solving in so many other fields,” Brown said. “Practicing for my performance, attending master classes and engaging with the other performers at Carmel Klavier were invaluable experiences in my path to attending New England Conservatory of Music. The Carmel Klavier strikes an unprecedented balance between rewarding excellence and celebrating the arts with everyone, which is a difficult task in competitive environments. All competitors walk away feeling a sense of personal accomplishment, which is the type of support that fueled my desire to continue into a creative major.”

Carmel Klavier will take place at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Selected finalists also will have an opportunity to perform solos, concertos, duets, ensembles and the pieces of featured composers at The Palladium in Carmel.