Wednesday 22 November 2017

From Ukraine with love -- the prize-winning Gorlatch returns to amaze us

Aedin Gormley

The Dublin International Piano Competition ranks among the most important piano competitions in the world. A triennial event, it offers a generous prize fund -- but perhaps the most important prize is the prestigious list of engagements secured for the winner.

The 2009 winner, Alexej Gorlatch, has already wowed audiences with his début concerts in London, New York and Paris and his Irish tour with Music Network begins on November 25.

Starting in The Pavilion Theatre in Dublin, he will then travel to Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo and Donegal performing a programme that will range from Beethoven's Sonata no.1 in F minor to Bill Whelan's The Currach.

I was present at The National Concert Hall when Gorlatch won the 2009 final and was amazed by the young Ukrainian's playing. By all accounts, he is something of a phenomenon. Entering the University of Arts in Berlin at the age of 12, within a decade he had a trophy cabinet jam-packed with awards.

As well as the Dublin prize, he won first prize at the prestigious Hamamatsu International Piano Competition and the Silver Medal at the highly competitive Leeds Piano competition.

Last September he won first prize at the ARD International Competition in Munich.

The adjudicators aren't just looking for a prize-winning technique, they want a winner who can entrance audiences internationally and spread the name of the competition in question around the world with poise and passion. Gorlatch has already achieved this and many comment on his very relaxed stage presence.

The Dublin International Piano Competition has never produced an Irish winner. Wouldn't it be great to see the prize go to an Irish pianist?

Those who stood out in the 2009 competition from Ireland included Fionnuala Moynihan who won the John Field Prize for the best performance of a piece by Field. Fiachra Garvey won The Charles J Brennan Prize for best-placed Irish competitor. Finghin Collins is by far the most successful of our Irish competitors to date, having reached the semi-final in 1997 aged 20.

The preliminary Irish competition to choose the Irish qualifiers will take place in December at The Royal Irish Academy of Music, ahead of the 2012 Dublin International Competition, which will take place in May. Fingers crossed for the Irish competitors!

Aedín Gormley presents Movies and Musicals (Saturdays 2-4pm) and Sunday Matinée (Sundays at noon) on RTÉ lyric fm

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