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Thousand Islands International Piano Competition Sept. 5-7 begins with a gala on Sept. 3

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CAPE VINCENT — The 12th annual 1000 Islands International Piano Competition will be held here from Friday, Sept. 5, to Sunday, Sept. 7, but it officially kicks off with a “prelude” on Wednesday, Sept. 3.

The three-day competition/festival is held on the grounds of Maple Grove Estate, 596 W. Broadway. The competition provides a venue for exceptional young pianists ages 13 to 25. It is sponsored by the Chopin Society of the Thousand Islands and the Cape Vincent Arts Council.

The “Prelude to Chopin,” an evening of hors d’oeuvres, Champagne, sweets and a piano performance, is 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, at Maple Grove.

Performing at the prelude gala will be Brian Preston, artistic director of the 1000 Islands Piano Competition. He has performed solo concerts throughout the U.S. and Canada, in the Virgin Islands and in many of Europe’s leading music centers. In 1981, he made his New York City debut at Lincoln Center with glowing reviews.

Mr. Preston is a 20-year member of the Nazareth College piano faculty and maintains a private piano studio at his home in Rochester.

Tickets to the prelude, sponsored by the Cape Vincent Arts Council, are $35. Proceeds benefit the competition.

This year, the Chopin competition will have 16 students competing in two divisions: six students in the junior (under age 19) and 10 students in the senior (ages 19 to 25) division.

The junior division includes a north country resident, Noah P. Landers, Watertown, who is a senior at Carthage Central School. He also competed in 2012. Also returning to the competition for the second time will be Raymond Feng from Rochester in the junior division and Aaron Masters, Buffalo, in senior division.

Competitors in the senior division study piano at a wide variety of colleges around the nation, including Eastman School of Music in Rochester, University of Texas, Princeton and Harvard universities.

Competition begins each day at 9 a.m. with the junior division. Lunch break will be about noon and the competition on Sept. 6 and 7 will continue until late afternoon.

The Sept. 7 competition will conclude at about noon with winners announced at approximately 1 p.m. Prizes include $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second and $500 for third. However, depending on the level of competition, in some years, no first-place award is given. Instead, two or three second- or third-place awards are presented to winners.

On Sept. 5, pianists will perform selections of their choice from the Baroque period, classical scores or 20th- and 21st-century music.

On Sept. 6, pianists must include a major Chopin work in their programs.

Performances on Sept. 7 must be an all-Chopin collection of music. All competitors perform each day.

Three judges will declare division winners. They are: Ireneus Zuk, professor and chairman of the keyboard and performance department at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario; Thomas Davidson, assistant professor of piano and musicianship at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, Montreal, Ontario; and Francois Germain, chairman of the piano department and assistant professor of piano and vocal coaching at Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam.

On Sept. 6 and 7, audience members may vote for their favorite performer. Ballots will be counted at the end of the competition and a prize will be awarded to the pianist in each division with the most votes. Each ballot must be accompanied by a monetary donation. This money finances the audience award.

The competition is free to attend and open to the public.

Audience members are welcome to quietly enter and exit the performance tent between each pianist’s performances. Individual performances are limited to approximately 15 to 25 minutes.

The competition was founded by Dr. William J. Grant, who died in 2009. He was a Watertown native who grew up in Clayton and retired to Texas in 1993 and summered in Cape Vincent following a distinguished career as a physician.

The details

WHAT: 12th annual 1000 Islands International Piano Competition for Young People

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 5, to Sunday, Sept. 7 at Maple Grove Estate, 596 W. Broadway, Cape Vincent. Competitions begin at 9 a.m. each day. Awards will be announced at 1 p.m. Sept. 7

COST: Free and open to the public

OF NOTE: A “Prelude to Chopin” gala, sponsored by the Cape Vincent Arts Council, is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, at Maple Grove Estate. The gala benefits the competition. Tickets are $35. Tickets can be purchased by emailing Lynn Benvenuto at lynn.benve or by calling her at 585-330-9334. Tickets also may be purchased at the Cape Vincent Liquor Store, 154 Lee St.

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