Pandemic Plus: Prestigious VIRTUAL Competitions

For a serious instrumental music student, making progress means maintaining training momentum, a topic we’ve recently addressed here.

Looking for an outstanding adjunct to the lessons, practice, rehearsals and solo/ensemble performances that form a musician’s regimen? Competitions!

In the 20th century, winning a major classical music competition was a career-launcher. Van Cliburn was catapulted to international stardom after winning the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in 1958 at age 23. So, too, was Martha Argerich at age 24 after winning the Chopin International Piano Competition in 1965.

Today, competitions abound for younger students and are less about getting a career established and much more about growing as a musician and performer – though they are certainly beneficial in burnishing a resume along with a skill set!

PIMF hosts in-person competitions at its summer festival but its pandemic-era expansion to a VIRTUAL platform has widened its scope to a global pool of young talent, from Houston to Hungary.

You could jump in right now, for reasons that are both practical and profound.

Reason #1: Prizes

It’s not a recording contract, it’s a SCHOLARSHIP. PIMF hands out $20,000 worth of them among Grand Prize and Division winners.

Reason #2: Unique performance and networking opportunities

Winners of the PIMF Virtual Concerto Competition are invited to take part in the Winners Circle Concert with several members of The Philadelphia Orchestra, a VIP event that’s live-streamed across the globe! For Grand Prize Winners, exciting performance opportunities often arise. Last fall’s Grand Prize Winner Xuanxiang Wu performed this fall in Manhattan as featured soloist with the New York Session Symphony as only one of the honors accompanying his win. Which leads us to…

Reason #3: Media attention

Winning could get you recognition in the classical music world and build your street cred. Want to be able to Google yourself and see exciting coverage and results? This often happens for competition winners!

PIMF has garnered local press coverage for many participants in its prestigious event, including two TV news stories in New York City this year about Xuanxiang Wu. Even Division Winners often catch reporters’ interest.

Reason #4: Beef up music school applications

If you’re hoping to major in music at college, university or conservatory, the admissions committee will be looking at your musical resume beyond your study and ensemble work. Getting polished at recording and submitting virtual performances will be a huge help during submission season – you can even show off your video that you used to submit to PIMF.

Reason #5: Skip the PIMF audition with your competition video

About that submission. Thinking about studying at PIMF in-person next summer? Your Virtual Concerto Competition video can now do double-duty as your camp audition. With a single button press you can submit for both competition awards and camp acceptance.

Reason #6: Focus and goal-setting

Take on that dream piece. You know you have one. Talk to your teacher and give yourself that goal. Have you been working on one and polishing it already? No matter how much you enjoy the prep, camaraderie and in-person experience of school ensembles or youth orchestra, testing your solo chops is a valuable checkpoint for an artist, and can breathe new energy into your overall musical process. Not to mention, for those early nerve-rattling forays into the competition zone, presenting yourself on video the first time out might be an easier introduction to the challenge than facing down a panel of judges in person.

Reason #7: Character-building (we hate it AND we love it)

The competition journey for a young musician, even from behind a computer screen, requires grit and dedication – to accept rejection, to learn from setbacks, and to push through self-doubt. Competitions help you grow confidence even as you grow a thicker skin, a must-have in ANY career.

Violinist Nickolas Warwick took top honors in the in-person PIMF Concerto Competition last summer at historic Valley Forge Military Academy & College in Wayne, Pennsylvania. The 17-year-old summed it up this way: “The reason that you compete is so that you can really present YOUR self. I feel like anybody who’s competed and is competing has definitely worked on their craft for a while. To be able to get to competition level you have to put those hours in. I think that if you’re serious and you love what you do, and you’ve put the time and effort into that, I think it’s important to show that to people. And that’s the real part of competition. And you get to see all these other fine musicians, who have put in the hours to master their music and get to a level of perfection in THEIR craft, which is really inspiring. I think that’s the main draw of competition for me.”

Details on PIMF’s Fall 2022 Virtual Concerto Competition are available here. Submission Deadline: December 31, 2022.