WHILE the attention of most of NSW was focussed on the NRL action at the Sydney Football Stadium yesterday, an international competition of a very different sort was being fought out in the Southern Highlands.
Twenty-six pianists from 14 countries are competing in the heats of the Southern Highlands International Piano Competition (SHIPC), starting on Saturday and Sunday and continuing today.
Of these, 12 semi-finalists will be selected to play a 50-minute recital each in the semi-finals on Tuesday and Wednesday.
All pianists have come prepared to play a piano concerto at the final in Clubbe Hall, Mittagong on Saturday, October 4.
They have chosen everything from the big romantic concertos like the famous Rachmaninov 2 to Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Grieg, Beethoven and Mozart.
But a panel of four international judges will choose just four to compete for the $20,000 first prize in the finals, where they will be accompanied by the WIN Wollongong Symphony Orchestra.
SHIPC chairman Malcolm Yell compared the pianists to “music Olympians”, in their standard and the hours of practise required.
“What is it is an Olympian performance,” he said.
“The performers have travelled a long way,” he said. “Some thought they were going off the edge of the earth.”
Welcoming competitors at a gathering at the Bowral Golf Club on Friday evening, Patron Pru Goward said Australia often placed its sporting heroes above its artistic achievers.
She praised the Southern Highlands as a community that treasured all that is good in the arts and in young people.
“”This is an incredibly important event,” she said.
“This is a relatively small community and there are very few communities that could put on a competition like this with this degree of community support.”
“We are so grateful to you for giving us this wonderful week.”
The SHIPC winner will perform in concerts in Italy, France, Russia and New York.
Prizes of $5000 each will be awarded to the best Australian performer and the pianist voted audience favourite.