Our world needs musicans
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all contestants, jury members and all other persons who travelled to Bydgoszcz, to the 6th Paderewski Competition.
We all know that there are many piano competitions around the world. Some people say “too many!”, but they should also realise that each competition provides an opportunity for the young pianists to perform, an extra incentive to study hard, a stimulation to prepare a specific programme, to learn a few new works… the contestants must be ready to travel, face some unexpected difficulties… A good experience! It is always possible to learn and to grow, as a person, as a musician. Besides, it is good to meet other musicians, from different cultures, and to have a chance to present oneself to the jury. Contact with someone (in the jury or in the audience) may happen and might lead to future performance opportunities, or may develop into a valuable long-lasting friendship. During a competition, there are many enjoyable moments, of listening to truly memorable performances, or simply of being together during the breaks and share your impressions. It all adds up to the positive side of taking part in a competition. Naturally, there are also some negative aspects, the unavoidable disappointment and surprises which are so common at competitions, but we have to live with those.
It is November 2004 when the 6th Paderewski Competition takes place. The competition has developed enormously. November 2004 is also a significant month for the Alink-Argerich Foundation: AAF was founded exactly five years ago. Both organizations undertake new activities with an abundance of energy, embarking on new projects, unfolding fresh ideas, always ready to co-operate, seeking to help the talented young musician, to serve and stimulate classical music.
With such common views, it does not surprise that the Paderewski Competition joined AAF.
The Alink-Argerich Foundation has as its main aim to serve as an Independent Service Centre for Musicians and Competitions. Young musicians enter quite a few competitions, whether they like it or not, and it is important that they “get the most out of it”. AAF offers them help in finding and selecting the most suitable events, giving the aspiring pianist reliable information, important facts and realistic views from experience, enough details to be better prepared. AAF also assists competition organizers with necessary promotion and publicity, advice and useful contacts. Over the past 25 years, personal contacts have been built, with musicians and organizers from all over the world. These contacts are of vital importance for bringing people together, in order to “make things happen”. AAF is very well equipped to establish such contacts, both for competition organizers and for the musicians who can always need a helping hand in building their careers.
The Paderewski Competition takes a special place in the World of Music. Paderewski and his works deserve everybody’s attention; their performance is stimulated very well by the Paderewski Competition. The organizers do their very best to make the contestants feel comfortable. Those who visit Bydgoszcz during the competition will be impressed by the warm and friendly atmosphere in which their Polish hosts welcome them.
In my latest book “Piano Competitions Worldwide” I introduced a classification system for piano competitions. As a result, competitions were listed as a five-, four-, or three-star event etc.. In order to classify as a five-star event, the competition must offer the contestants good conditions, considerable prize-money, and should endeavor to arrange good concerts for the laureates, so that – when looking back after five or ten years – they can conclude that the competition really played an important role in their careers.
The Paderewski Competition received four stars, which already means a high-level event. One might ask: “Why not five stars?” One aspect of the classification system is that also the competition’s history is taken into account. As a fully international event, the Paderewski Competition is still very young, and therefore simply needs more time to establish itself as a famous competition with a beaming reputation. (We all know of the Queen Elisabeth Competition, the Chopin Competition, the Van Cliburn, The Leeds etc.; each of these competitions have existed since long, and impress with their list of famous laureates.) When I came to Bydgoszcz in 1998, I witnessed the victory of Tomomi Okumura in the 4th Paderewski Competition. Later, Tomomi also impressed the audiences in Munich and Zurich. She definitely has the potential to embark on a great career, and the Paderewski Competition can be proud to have acknowledged her.
Another factor is prize money. Today in Bydgoszcz, the US$ 10,000 first prize is a fair amount of money, but we know that there exist other competitions on our planet that are fortunate in having even more generous sponsors.
The Paderewski Competition continues to expand, and does its best to arrange attractive engagements for its laureates. This year’s jury consists of 11 highly respectable musicians. I am convinced that the contestants will later look back on their participation in Bydgoszcz as a nice and positive experience (which in itself is already quite remarkable, as this is certainly not always the case with other competitions.
Whichever the results and opinions in this competition, we all share our love for classical music. In this world which seems to be torn apart by aggression and destruction (often instigated by infamous politicians), the role of music is most important.
Our world needs fine musicians like the ones who are gathered here. There can never be too many of them, and I wish that they never stop delivering the powerful message of peace and relief through their music.
The Director of Alink-Argerich Foundation
Międzynarodowy Konkurs Pianistyczny im. I. J. Paderewskiego jest organizowany w ramach projektu pt. "Kujawsko-Pomorskie Menu Kulturalne 2013-2014" współfinansowanego ze środków Europejskiego Funduszu Rozwoju Regionalnego w ramach Regionalnego Programu Operacyjnego Województwa Kujawsko-Pomorskiego na lata 2007-2013 oraz ze środków budżetu Województwa Kujawsko-Pomorskiego.