International after 27 national competitions
The Maj Lind Piano Competition grew into an international event in the 2000s, and from now onwards would be held at five-year intervals. It had been a national competition ever since 1945. A piano quintet became the regular genre in the chamber music finals.
The First International Maj Lind Piano Competition was held in 2002 (August 6–22), by which time 57 years had passed since the first competition. 46 pianists took part, 16 them of Finns. The first prize was worth €20,000.
The Jury consisted of Alexei Lubimov as Chairman, with Marie-Françoise Bucquet, Bella Davodovich, Erika Haase, Ilkka Kuusisto, Risto Lauriala and David Owen Norris as members.
For the new chamber music finals, the competition invited along the Tempera, A-QUArta and UTA Quartet.
There were two orchestras: the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Storgårds, and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu.
Representing Finnish music in the competition were commissions from Einojuhani Rautavaara (Narcissus) and Veli-Matti Puumala.
The winner was Alberto Nosè (Italy). Kotaro Fukuma (Japan) came second, Pierre Mancinelli (France) third, and Juho Pohjonen (Finland) fourth. The other finalists were Albert Tiu (Philippines, Sarah Tysman (France), Joonas Ahonen (Finland) and Mei Yi Foo (Malaysia), and special prizes were awarded to Alexandre Pirojenko (Russia) and Kotaro Fukuma (Japan).
Alberto Nosè was 22 when he won the competition, and he had already claimed five major competition prizes, the earliest when he was 11. Winning the first prize led to a concert tour to Italy, Austria and France. He continued taking part in competitions after the Maj Lind, graduated from the F.E. Dall’Abaco Conservatory in Verona and continued at the Imola International Piano Academy. He appears in concert the world over, holds masterclasses, sits on the juries of international piano competitions and teaches at the Accademia Amadeus in Valeggio sul Mincio.
This year he has returned to Helsinki to serve on the Jury of the Fourth International Maj Lind Piano Competition.
The Second International Maj Lind Piano Competition was held five years after the fourth, in early summer 2007 (May 24–June 7).
The Jury consisted of Gustav Djupsjöbacka (Chairman), Sulamita Aronovsky, Konstanze Eickhorst, Mieko Harimoto, Emanuel Krasovsky, Alain Planès and Tapio Tuomela.
In the finals, the competitors had a chance to play with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the winner of the National Maj Lind Piano Competition 45 years earlier, Leif Segerstam.
The chamber musicians in the finals were Reeta Maalismaa and Annemarie Åström (violin), Joel Laakso and Markus Hohti (cello).
The competition was won by Sofya Gulyak (Russia). Second was Roope Gröndahl (Finland) and third Violetta Khachikian (Russia). The other finalists were Marko Mustonen (Finland), Yoonjung Han (South Korea) and Irina Zahharenkova (Estonia). The special prize for the best performance of the commissioned work went to Sofya Gulyak (Russia) and for the best performances of the Finnish piano works to Sonja Fräki (Finland) and Maija Väisänen (Finland).
Sofya Gulyak (b. 1979, Kazan) was 28 when she won the competition. Two years before, she had won the Leeds Piano Competition. She began her studies in Kazan and continued at Imola in Italy and the Royal College of Music in London. She gives concerts the world over and has released many critically-acclaimed discs; she sits on the juries of competitions, holds masterclasses and teaches at the Royal College of Music.
The Third International Maj Lind Piano Competition was held in autumn 2012 (September 13–27).
The Jury consisted of Gary Graffman (Chairman), Chen Pi-hsien, Akiko Ebi, Ivari Ilja, Dominique Merlet, Matti Raekallio and Eliso Virsaladze. Conducting the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in the finals was Ernest Martínez Izquierdo.
The winner was Sergei Redkin (Russia). Denis Zhdanov (Ukraine) came second and Gehui Xu (China) third. The other finalists were Shinnosuke Inugai (Japan), Oskar Jezior (Poland) and Johannes Piirto (Finland). The special prize for the best performance of the commissioned work went to Gehui Xu (China) and the prize of the Taneli Kuusisto Foundation for the best performance of a Finnish work (Rautavaara: Narcissus) to Visa Sippola (Finland).
Sergei Redkin (b. 1991 Krasnoyarsk) was 21 when he won the competition. The previous year he had studied at the Lake Como Piano Academy in Italy, with Dmitri Bashkirov, Peter Frankl and others. He had received his first piano tuition at the music school in his native city and, from the age of 6 onwards, lessons in improvisation and composition. From there he proceeded to St. Petersburg, continued his composition studies and has won prizes in composition competitions. After the Maj Lind Piano Competition, he distinguished himself in the Tchaikovsky Competition. He now gives concerts round the world, plays lots of chamber music and composes.
Text: Katri Maasalo