Katarina Peers says participants are expected to play not only Chopin compositions, but also those of renowned composers Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Katarina Peers is both concerned and excited as the deadline for the 2nd UAE International Chopin Competition for Piano Students draws ever closer.

"The final day to submit everything is January 19. Several music teachers have already informed me about their pupils' interest in taking part — some for the second time — in the competition but, so far, 13 applications have been submitted and several had requested I send them the form but only two have confirmed their participation by providing the Dh300 enrolment fee," Katarina, the competition's director, said.

"However, I'm receiving applications daily and am expecting to receive most on the final day from all across the UAE, including quite a few Emiratis," she added.

The two-day competition, which will take place from February 23 to 25, is expected to attract 70 participants between the ages of 7 and 35 who will compete for various prizes.

Opening ceremony

The opening ceremony will take place at the Abu Dhabi Theatre on February 23 but the competition itself will take place in the Culture Centre at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development from February 24 to 25. The awards will be presented in a special ceremony on March 3 at the National Theatre.

The event was first organised in 2010 as part of celebrations for Chopin's bicentennial.

"I began organising it again because of constant requests from the competition's initial participants; this year, we decided to divide the category of those who have between 3 to 6 years of study into two age groups, those who are 11 to 14 years old and those who are 15 to 18 years old, which increased the number of categories to seven," Katarina, a Polish expatriate, said.

Participants are expected to play pieces not only from Chopin, the legendary Polish composer, but also from renowned Hungarian and French composers, Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy respectively.

"They are all being honoured because even though Chopin's bicentennial has passed, 2011 was the year of Leitz's bicentennial while 2012 will mark the 150th anniversary for Debussy. There will be winners announced for the best performance of each composer's work," she explained.

While the competition is six weeks away, Peers noted that there were several details that are still being finalised, including special prizes for the winners.


"We now have five patrons, including the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, who were our original patrons, the Polish, French and Hungarian embassies, along with an honorary patron — the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

"Additionally, we have seven sponsors, which are a mixture of corporate and private individuals so, hopefully, we will be able to meet our budgetary requirements," Katarina said.

"Also, we are finalising the number of jurors, which include notable musical experts as well as three honorary jurors — the Hungarian, French and Japanese ambassadors, who are all amateur pianists," she added.

More excited

Katarina, however, indicated that she was more excited than concerned about the upcoming event, especially since several participants have already submitted the pieces they will be performing.

"They are among the more difficult pieces in each composer's repertoire so it's already shaping up to be an exciting event; it will be interesting to see how they perform once they are in the actual competition," she said.


Registration is still open for amateur candidates, who must submit their forms before January 19. For more information, visit www.uaeicc.org