THE excitement in the National Concert Hall over the past two evenings reached its climax last night when, in the presence of President Mary McAleese, Chairperson of the International Jury, John O'Conor announced the winner of the Axa Dublin International Piano Competition.
Partly sponsored by Independent Newspapers, the ?12,000 first prize and a Kawai grand piano went to 23-year-old Finnish Annti Siirala. His expansive breadth of musicianship in the Brahms No 1 Concerto with the NSO, under Gerhard Markson, had been no less impressive than his dignified classicism in Beethoven's Op 109 Sonata in his semi-final recital.
Cathal Breslin (25), Derry, won the Brennan prize for the best performance of Philip Martin's commissioned work and the John Field prize for his playing of the Nocturne No 2.
The second prize of ?9,000 was awarded to Li Wang (29), from Canada, who gave a masterly account of Tchaikovsky's No 1 Concerto. Israeli Maran Porot (21) received the ?4,500 third prize for his classical playing of Mozart's K467 Concerto. Other winners were Brenda Jones (24) and Heidi Hau (27), both USA, and Andrey Polochevny (26) Belarus.