During the lead up to the 2015–2016 Opening Night Concert & Gala, the Seattle Symphony presented its first-ever Piano Competition in partnership with Young Concert Artists (YCA) and Washington Performing Arts (WPA). Consisting of three rounds, culminating with the finals on September 18, the competition demonstrated the Symphony’s commitment to fostering the artists of the future, highlighting up-and-coming pianists with a passion for innovative, contemporary music and creative programming. The repertoire featured French and American works, including a world-premiere, jazz-like solo piece by Northwest native and YCA alumnus Kenji Bunch.
Kevin Ahfat was awarded the $10,000 first prize and invited to perform at the Opening Night Concert, with fellow finalists Kenny Broberg and Vijay Venkatesh tying for second place. Renowned pianist and YCA alumnus Jean-Yves Thibaudet chaired the competition jury, which included Music Director Ludovic Morlot, Principal Cello and YCA alumnus Efe Baltacıgil, YCA Director of Artist Management Monica J. Felkel, WPA Director of Programming Samantha Pollack, First Chair Promotion Project Manager James Egelhofer and President & CEO Simon Woods. During the finals, members of the audience were invited to vote for their favorite, awarding Kenny Broberg the Audience Favorite Award.
Major sponsorship of the Seattle Symphony Piano Competition was provided by members of Club 88: Nader and Oraib Kabbani, Betty Tong and Erika J. Nesholm. The Seattle Symphony Piano Competition was made possible with support from the Steinway Piano Gallery of Seattle.
PHOTOS: 1 Club 88 Piano Competition supporters Oraib and Nader Kabbani, Betty Tong and Erika J. Nesholm 2 Kevin Ahfat performing during the final round 3 Competition finalists Vijay Venkatesh, Kenny Broberg and Kevin Ahfat 4 Audience Favorite Award tallied live 5 Audience members voting for their favorite contestant 6 Competition winner Kevin Ahfat with Ludovic Morlot
Originally published in the January 2016 Encore concert program.