Oberlin's Cooper International Competition for Piano Returns in 2023

This summer's return welcomes an esteemed international jury; features finalists in live-streamed performances with The Cleveland Orchestra.

April 7, 2023

Cathy Partlow Strauss ’84

Cooper Competition yellow, red and white graphic with a violin set on a piano keyboard

The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition brings some of the world’s most talented young musicians to the campus of Oberlin College and Conservatory every summer. In 2023, we will see a return of the piano competition with a slightly condensed format and the exciting Finals featuring three pianists in performances of complete concertos with The Cleveland Orchestra at their home venue, Severance Hall, in Cleveland, Ohio.

The competition will take place from July 29 through August 4, and is open to outstanding pianists from around the world between the ages of 13 and 18.

The generous prize package totals $40,000 in cash awards—including a $20,000 first prize—and all three Concerto Finalists will be awarded full four-year tuition scholarships to Oberlin Conservatory, pending admission. 

The last time the Cooper Competition for piano was held was in 2018. The pandemic interrupted the cycle and international travel. 

“We are thrilled to bring back the Cooper piano competition and to collaborate with the Cleveland Orchestra once again as we celebrate the best young piano talent in the world,” says Oberlin Professor of Piano Robert Shannon, Cooper piano competition director and jury chair.

Daily competitive rounds begin on Monday, July 31, and build toward the Finals on Friday, August 4, in which three finalists each perform a complete concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by David Robertson.

An Honors Recital, celebrating outstanding performances from the competition’s Semifinal Round, will take place on Thursday evening, August 3 in Oberlin Conservatory's Warner Concert Hall.

All rounds of the competition and the Honors Recital are open to the public. Sessions in Warner Concert Hall are available free of charge. Tickets for the Cooper Competition Concerto Finals at Severance Hall will be available at the Cleveland Orchestra website or by calling 800-686-1141. 

All rounds will be webcast live to a global audience via oberlin.edu/livestream

The 2023 Cooper Competition jury consists of esteemed pianists from the Oberlin Conservatory faculty and acclaimed performer-pedagogues from throughout the world. The jury is led by Cooper Piano Competition Director and Oberlin Conservatory Professor of Piano Robert Shannon. It includes fellow Oberlin professors—and winners of important international competitions—Angela Cheng, Dang Thai Son, and Stanislav Ioudenitch. Distinguished visiting jurors include Ewa Pobłocka, a prize-winner of the 10th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw and a teacher at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz; and Boris Slutsky—soloist, recitalist, and professor at The Yale School of Music.

Applications for the 2023 competition must be submitted by April 25. For a complete competition schedule, application, and more information, visit the Cooper Competition website

Founded in 2010, the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition is dedicated to presenting an important international competitive opportunity to outstanding young musicians. It is made possible through the generosity of Thomas Cooper, a 1978 graduate of Oberlin College, and his wife, pianist Evon Cooper. The Cooper Competition alternates annually between piano and violin and is open to participants between the ages of 13 and 18.

Laureates of the Cooper Competition for piano have gone on to win major competitions and establish thriving young careers. They include Leonardo Colafelice, George Li, Yuncham Lim, Xiaoyu Bruce Liu, Evren Ozel, Clayton Stephenson, Tony Yike Yang, and Tony Siqi Yun. Learn more about the prizewinners of the Cooper Competition.


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