At 6pm in the Wisconsin Lutheran College reception hall outside Schwann Concert Hall, 7 Semi-Finalists gave their last performances of the 2008 PianoArts Festival. It was a relaxed environment and their musical expression was greatly appreciated by a crowd of onlookers and admirers.
2008 PianoArts Final Round
At 8pm, the final round began. Sean Yeh led off, just as he had the day before in the second day of Semi-Finals. His performance of Beethoven's 3rd Concerto in C minor was passionate and virtuosic. As in the first round, accuracy was sacrificed for the sake of the intensity he wanted to communicate, and there were ensemble issues with soloist and orchestra. The second movement had pedal issues as chords were not resolved - perhaps the pedal was held longer for the sake of acoustics in the big hall, but still it sounded muddy. That aside, Sean's playing was emphatic, direct, blazing and daring, and the conclusion was exciting.
Paige Chun Li played nearly flawlessly with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Andrews Sill. She performed Beethoven's 1st Concerto in C major. Her clean technique and control of color and phrasing was magnified on the brilliant-sounding Steinway concert grand with a light-weighted action. Her musical expression was committed and the ensemble was wonderful. It was obvious that the orchestra loved playing with her.
Sejoon Park concluded the concert with a dramatic and moving interpretation of Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto. Although there were mistakes early on, it was a case of nerves that any pianist can relate to, and it never tripped him up. However, his rushing caused a problem for the ensemble particularly in the first movement. The second movement began surprisingly slow, but was carefully planned and beautifully cultivated. As in the other rounds, Sejoon's playing radiated musical beauty in the slow moments. The finale was invigorating and complete.
Prizes and Awards
First Prize: Sejoon Park; $8,000
Second Prize: Paige Chun Li; $5,000
Third Prize: Sean M. Yeh; $3,000
Scholarship to the Mannes College International Keyboard Institute and Festival: Sejoon Park
Audience Communication Award: Paige Chun Li; $500
String and Piano Duo Award: Brian Chang; $500
There were no Wisconsin Contestants this year, so no award was given in this category.