The inaugural competition for the Peter Takács Beethoven Prize in Piano was held on December 4 and 5, its concluding round showcasing six finalists in an afternoon marathon of Beethoven piano sonatas in Finney Chapel.
Second-year pianist Ho Ting (Kelvin) Tang, a student of professor Alvin Chow, earned first prize and an award of $5,000. Fourth-year student Leo Choi earned second prize and $1,000, and third-year student Guoanni (Annie) Qin earned third prize and $500. Choi and Qin are both students of professor Angela Cheng.
"I was deeply impressed by the high level of accomplishment from our finalists,” Takács, a longtime professor of piano at Oberlin, said at the conclusion of the competition. “The judges had unanimous praise for the preparation, personal involvement, and artistic integrity of the student performers.”
The Takács Beethoven Prize was established in fall 2019 through the generosity of the Steve and Linda Rosen Family in recognition of Takács and his acclaimed recordings of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas. The piano works of Beethoven have fascinated Takács throughout his long career.
“I am honored to be recognized in this meaningful way for my lifelong dedication to the works of Beethoven,” he says. “The Peter Takács Beethoven Prize in Piano will ensure that this extraordinary repertoire will remain central to our students' practice and performance for years to come."
The competition’s first prize is named after Takács himself; second and third prize are named, respectively, in honor of Takács’ principal mentor Leon Fleisher and the renowned pianist and pedagogue Howard Karp ’51, another revered teacher of Takács.
A native of Hong Kong, Tang began playing piano at age 4 and joined the junior music program of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) at 12. He has earned prizes at various competitions throughout South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, including the Asia Music Competition for Young Artists Busan 2018.
For this competition, Tang performed Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C Major, Op. 2, No. 3, and the Piano Sonata in F Minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata”).
Also hailing from Hong Kong, Choi has presented concerts in the U.S. and Hong Kong, including Oberlin’s Danenberg Honors Recital and numerous public recitals held by the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. He earned prizes at competitions throughout China, including the 2016 Asian Youth Music Competition. He has studied with pianists such as Robert Levin and Jacques Rouvier at the Mozarteum, and has attended numerous music festivals. In November, Choi was named one of four winners in Oberlin Conservatory's Senior Concerto Competition. He will appear with the Oberlin Orchestra as soloist in the spring.
Choi's Beethoven competition program included the Piano Sonata in F Minor, Op. 57, (“Appassionata") and the Piano Sonata in A Major, Op. 101.
Originally from China, Qin won first prize in the 2021 Beijing International Music Festival Piano Competition. Also this year, she performed Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto with the Xiamen Song and Dance Symphony Orchestra. She won the bronze medal at the 2018 Vanke Mesa Steinway Youth Piano Competition and first prize in the 2017 Yamaha Music Scholarship Competition, earning a performance at Carnegie Hall. Qin participated in the 2020 Danenberg Honors Recital at Oberlin.
She performed Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 31 No. 3, and the Piano Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”).
Judges for the competition were Cleveland Institute of Music piano professor Daniel Shapiro and Oberlin alumnus Robert Spano ’84, music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Aspen Music Festival and School, and music director designate of the Fort Worth Symphony.
The first Takács Beethoven Prize competition was scheduled to take place in December 2020, to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. That competition was canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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