The new and improved Hilton Head International Piano Competition worked so well last year, organizers decided to keep it the same.
The competition, which starts Monday, was tweaked slightly last year to give contestants more playing time. The move was done to attract more talent worldwide, which manifests itself this year in an expanded number of international contestants. Half of the 20 contestants are from abroad, up from the usual six or so, said competition director Nina Rodman.
"(The format) worked beautiful last year," she said. "By giving the contestants more time, it made it more worthwhile for them to come and compete."
All 20 pianists will play in the first two rounds of the competition. Each receives 55 minutes of total playing time, twice as much as the old format.
After the first two rounds, the field is whittled to six contestants for round three.
The six semifinalists then are narrowed to three for the last round.
The final trio plays with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra for the finals March 9.
All performances will be held at First Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island.
Round One: 1:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; tickets $10
Round Two: 1:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; tickets $10
Round Three: 1:30 p.m. Saturday; tickets $20
Round Four: 7 p.m. March 9; tickets $35-$60
Six competition judges give lessons with six contestants who do not advance to the finals. All classes are open to the public. Classes run from 9 to 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 to 4:10 p.m. March 9 at All Saints Episcopal Church.
Jury Chairman Leslie Howard will give a lecture and recital on one of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt's later masterpieces. The lecture is from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. March 9.
AN EVENING WITH THE JUDGES
Guests can mingle with judges at the competition fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the home of Stewart and Nina Rodman. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served, and judges will speak and play piano. Tickets are $125 a person.