Marian Filice Youth Piano Competition at Gavilan College: A stellar show of talent, virtuallyby Jan Janes on Mar 6, 2021
The 16th annual Marian Filice Youth Piano Competition presented right on schedule for 2021, with superbly talented pianists sending in recordings of their presentations.
Maria Amirkhanian, Gavilan College music instructor and festival organizer, has built the event into a regional musical event. “A really good turnout this year, with 25,” she said, “Especially considering it is all online.”
In past years, the college theater has hosted anywhere from 18-30 participants. When live, the event is free, so the community can attend and area youth can enjoy a musical performance.
Diego Carrillo, Local Winner-Senior Division, played Sonata KV.457 by W.A. Mozart
and Dumka, Op.59 by P. Tchaikovsky.
Amirkhanian sets the event date four months in advance and notifies all past participants, plus all the music teachers in the area. Students compete in two age-specific divisions: grades 5-8 and 9-12. First, second and third place winners in each division receive cash awards, and a local area winner from each division is also chosen. There are no geographic restrictions for participation.
Harriet Gensler, First Place Winner-Senior Division, played Sonata, Op.2 No.2,
1st movement by L. v. Beethoven and Prelude, Op.23 No.6 by S. Rachmaninoff.
Gavilan’s Media Services, IT and PIO departments worked with Amirkhanian to convert a live concert format into a livestream event. Each participant each chose two piano compositions from different time periods and recorded their renditions in a single, unedited performance.
“It takes six months to a year to get a piece ready for a competition setting,” said Amirkhanian. “It’s not just the playing, but also preparing for the stage, body language, attire.”
“There’s a respect toward the instrument, the event, the other participants and the audience.”
Sophia Perez, Local Winner-Junior Division, played Sonata in G major,
Hob:XVI by J. Haydn and April from The Seasons by P. Tchaikovsky.
The performances were adjudicated by two pianists. Dahveed Behroozi is a Gavilan College music instructor and Bay Area musician in the independent jazz and classical scenes. Irina Smolyakova, winner of the 2009 and 2015 Fresno State Concerto Competition, maintains a private piano studio and collaborates with chamber music groups.
Sora Corro, First Place Winner-Junior Division, played Sonata K.333, 1st
movement by W. A. Mozart and Gnomenreign by F. Liszt.
“This is a good stepping stone for young musicians to see what competition is like,” she said. “We are happy to offer it in Gilroy at Gavilan College.”