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Finalists chosen for Midwest International Piano Competition

June 6, 2014

John Vallentine, director, School of Music, 319-273-2024,
Caroline Boehmer, communication and operations coordinator, School of Music, 319-273-2028,
Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Finalists have been selected for the Midwest International Piano Competition, which is being hosted at the University of Northern Iowa. A concert to showcase the finalists is scheduled for 5 p.m., Saturday, June 7, at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center.

Pianists from around the globe have been competing this week at the inaugural event. According to John Vallentine, executive director of the competition, "The final round concert is an exciting event that will surely launch the international career of one or all of these outstanding musicians."

With the competitors facing an esteemed panel of judges: Alexander Toradze, a world famous concert pianist; Miroslav Brejcha, director of the Pilsen (Czech Republic) Conservatory; and Arthur Green, a leading American pianist, the pianists will perform 50-minute programs of technically demanding and expressive, lyrical music. "The finalists must not only win the hearts of the audience, but survive the critical evaluation of the esteemed panel of judges," said Vallentine.  

The winner of the competition will receive $10,000, a recording contract with Blue Griffin Records, an artist management contract with Heartland Concert Artists and a return concerto appearance with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra. "The stakes are high as this type of competition is separating the best-of-the-best who are striving for a major career break," said Vallentine. "We are fortunate to be hosting the event here at the University of Northern Iowa."

The finalists are: Tomar Gewirtzman from Israel, and Margaryta Golovko and Elina Akselrud, both from Ukraine. "All three pianists have survived two rounds of intense competition facing 13 other pianists who were selected from musicians traveling across the United States, including Iowa, and those from countries as far away as China, Russia, South Africa and Taiwan," said Vallentine.

The artistic directors of the competition are Sean Botkin and Dmitri Vorobiev, piano professors at UNI. For more information, visit