NTD International Piano Competition: Six Pianists Will Go on to Finals

A unique, commissioned piece blending East and West presented contestants with a creative challenge
By Catherine Yang
Catherine Yang
Catherine Yang
September 27, 2019 Updated: September 29, 2019

Sounds of Beethoven sonatas trickled out of Manhattan’s Baruch Performing Arts Center all day Friday, Sept. 27, coupled with the unusual pairing of a Chinese tune performed on piano.

That piece was “Triumph of Goodness,” a piano piece commissioned especially for the NTD International Piano Competition, written by the world-renowned Shen Yun Performing Arts artistic director D.F.

“I love it, because of the beautiful colors,” said pianist Maxim Anukushin, describing the orchestral quality of the music. “I feel it has some kind of story … at the beginning you feel something triumphant, in the middle you hear something tragic, dramatic. And in the end you overcome the dramatic and again you are in triumph. I feel there’s a story there.”

In fact it pairs perfectly with Beethoven, Anukushin added, as his music was all about tragedy and triumph.

Eighty-six contestants from 28 countries signed up for the 5th NTD International Piano Competition, and 15 pianists made it to the semi-finals which took place on Friday, Sept. 27. Finals take place Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Baruch Engelman Recital Hall, where winners will be awarded in the evening.

The competition is unique in that its mission is to preserve and promote the 250 years of classical piano literature, focusing exclusively on the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods. There is no music written past 1900, save for the uniquely commissioned piece, which blends Chinese melodies with classical piano arrangement techniques.

Contest judge Susan Liu, who arranged the piece for piano, said she tried to bring her culture to the contestants, but was amazed and honored to find they had brought their culture to her. The middle segment is a dance movement, and Liu said she heard Italian, Japanese, and perhaps some Latin dance styles in there as well.

“All of you are just wonderful, beyond good,” Liu told the pianists afterward. She described the story the piece was originally written for, with heavenly fairies and imperial guards of ancient China, depicted in music through a brilliant trio.

As those familiar with the world-class Shen Yun might know, D.F. has written many pieces for the dance company’s unique orchestra and bel canto vocalists.

“He wrote numerous beautiful melodies, beautiful songs, and a lot of other compositions,” Liu said.

For the contestants, this blend of East and West and emphasis on tradition created a creative challenge they’ve not encountered elsewhere.

“It’s very interesting, because it’s called the ‘Triumph of Goodness,’ and through the piece, you can find major and minor [keys], and it’s like an angel and devil fighting,” said Fagan, a pianist from Azerbaijan. “Then there is the triumph of goodness, and peace came in C major, the tune where you cannot find black keys.”

Six Finalists

Six finalists emerged from today’s semi-finals:

  • Olena Miso from Austria
  • Shih-Yeh Lu from Taiwan
  • Sanghie Lee from South Korea
  • Vladimir Petrov from Mexico
  • Nicolas Giacomelli from Italy
  • Maxim Anukushin from New York

They will advance to the finals, which will be held on Sept. 28. The finals will be held at Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City and will also be broadcast live on The Epoch Times website and Facebook page.

For tickets, call 518-635-7788.

Live Coverage (ET):

Saturday, Sept. 28

1:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

How to Tune In:

(1) NTD and Epoch Times websites

(2) NTD and Epoch Times Facebook pages

(3) NTD Youtube

Catherine Yang
Catherine Yang