Japan's Kotaro Nagano wins Chopin competition

22 September 2014

Japanese pianist Kotaro Nagano has won the Australian International Chopin Piano Competition, hosted by the ANU School of Music.

Kotaro, one of 11 of the world’s best young pianists to take part in the competition, won the $25,000 first prize, and also picked up the People’s Choice award for his playing over the past week.

Russian Daria Kameneva finished second, while Ukraine-born Elina Akselrud finished third.

Competition chairman, Emeritus Professor Larry Sitsky, said all competitors played to an extremely high standard, but Kotaro’s experience helped him stand out.

“We were after someone who captured the romantic spirit. The idea of the Chopin Competition was to try to recapture the 19th century feeling of freedom, which was a characteristic of the pianists of the time,” Professor Sitsky said.

“He played with sensitivity and balance, projecting the sound and freedom wherever possible, for which you need a certain amount of bravery.

“That’s what gave his playing imagination and feeling, and the audience sensed that.”

Kotaro’s win adds to an already impressive list of awards.

He graduated from Tokyo Metropolitan Senior High School of Music in 2007, and went on to be a semi-finalist in the Montreal International Musical Competition in 2008.

Kotaro has also won first prize in the Taipei International Chopin Piano Competition, and the Tokyo Piano Competition, and has performed concerts with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

A total prize pool of $40,000 was on offer, with the first prize of $25,000 awarded by the Pratt Foundation.

Philanthropist Jeanne Pratt presented the first prize, and said she was delighted to hear a new generation of pianists play Chopin.

“Every generation has a chance to interpret Chopin it its own way,” she said, before presenting Kotaro with first prize.

All three prize winners will play a concert at the Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on Monday 22 September.

The competition was held in partnership with Friends of Chopin Australia and the Polish Embassy.

More information on the competition and competitors is available at 2014 Australian International Chopin Piano Competition on the ANU School of Music website.