Hilton Head International Piano Competition begins Monday

abredeson@islandpacket.comMarch 1, 2013 

Drew Petersen won the Hilton Head Island International Piano Competition in 2011.

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  • The 2013 Hilton Head International Young Artists Piano Competition will be held March 4-7 and March 9 at the First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island. Tickets are $12 daily for rounds one and two March 4 through March 8 or $40 for a Gold Pass, which covers all four days. Tickets range from $35 to $65 for the finals, which begin at 7 p.m. March 9. Tickets are available at www.hhipc.org or by calling the box office at 843-842-2055.

Every year people travel from all over the world for the Hilton Head International Piano Competition.

The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra puts on the event, alternating between the Young Artists Competition for ages 13 through 17 one year and the Adult Competition for ages 18 through 30 the next.

Competition director Mona Huff said a few thousand people attended last year's event.

"I had no idea when I moved here that we had something of that caliber," Huff said.

Huff said the contestants will come to the Lowcountry from across the United States, and from as far away as China, Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, Portugal and Canada.

"The kids are just amazing," she said.

Two years ago, Drew Petersen was one of those kids. The 17-year-old from New Jersey ended up winning second place.

Now 19, Petersen is in his final year studying piano at The Juilliard School in New York City. He will also soon receive a bachelor of arts degree in social science from Harvard University.

Petersen said placing in the international competition has helped his music career.

"The Hilton Head competition has quite a name in the music world," he said. "It's very important for musicians to have associations with things like this because ... when you're going out to get concerts and presenting yourself to the world, people want to know what you've accomplished. And it's a very easy way to let everyone know the caliber of an artist you are."

Petersen returned to Hilton Head in January 2012 to perform two recitals with the local orchestra.

"You never expect to get anything out of competitions because the odds are always against you," he said. "The level is so high, so it's very, very difficult. And the nature of our work is so subjective that you never know what anyone wants."

The 2013 Hilton Head International Young Artists Piano Competition will be held March 4-9 at First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island.

Twenty skilled pianists will compete for first place, which includes $5,000 cash, a music school scholarship valued at up to $5,000 and a performance with the local orchestra.

Round one will take place March 4 and March 5, with 10 kids playing each day for 25 minutes. Round two will happen March 6 and March 7, when each will play for 30 minutes. Then the judges will retire to their chambers and narrow the results down to five finalists.

Each finalist will meet with the maestro to decide what he or she will play with the orchestra. Then they will play with the orchestra in the finals March 9.

"We're very excited," Huff said.

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