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Success in Latvia, Jāzeps Vītols International Piano Competition

Julian Chan performing Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 3 with conductor Atvars Lakstīgala and the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Jānis Vecbrālis

Three live rounds, twenty-one competitors, ten days in beautiful Latvia.


The Jāzeps Vītols International Piano Competition was held this year from the 7th to the 14th of October in the cities of Rīga (1st and 2nd rounds) and Liepāja (final round). Having made it through to the final myself, I was honoured to receive second place, with first being awarded to Latvian pianist Daniils Mickevičs, and third place to Ukrainian pianist Mykyta Burzanitsa. Also among the finalists were Edvin Švaikovski, Mantas Šernius, and Ērika Jākobsone.


The finalists on stage at the awards ceremony. Photo by Jānis Vecbrālis
Left to right: Uldis Lipskis (director of the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra), competitors Mykyta Burzanitsa, Edvin Švaikovski, Mantas Šernius, Julian Chan, Ērika Jākobsone, and Daniils Mickevičs.

The final round was held over two days, in which there were three performances of Prokofiev, two of Rachmaninoff - including my performance, on the second day, of his third concerto in D minor - and one of Mozart. Both days were presented via a stunning livestream, which as of the writing of this post is still available to watch on YouTube! (first evening, second evening)


Throughout the course of the competition, I gave a number of interviews, both for the livestream and for Latvian radio. This was the first time I've been asked to give interviews during a competition, so it was a new and exciting experience for me!


Competitors Mykyta Burzanitsa and Julian Chan giving a post-concert interview with musician and journalist Edgars Raginskis. Photo by Jānis Vecbrālis

The final was held in the stunning new Lielais Dzintars, or Great Amber, concert hall, where each competitor performed their concerto with conductor Atvars Lakstīgala and the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra. Though the fact that there were six of us in the final meant that rehearsal time with the orchestra was very limited, there was great music being made and it went smoothly in the end!


Julian Chan performing Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 3 with conductor Atvars Lakstīgala and the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Jānis Vecbrālis

The competition jury was composed of Ivari Ilja of Estonia, Juris Žvikovs of Latvia, Niklas Pokki of Finland, Zbignevas Ibelgauptas of Lithuania, and Toms Ostrovskis of Latvia. It was great meeting them after the final; I was given kind and inspiring words and advice.


Jury members Niklas Pokki, Zbignevas Ibelgauptas, Ivari Ilja, Juris Žvikovs, and Toms Ostrovskis in the audience of the final of the JVIPC. Photo by Jānis Vecbrālis
Jury members Niklas Pokki, Zbignevas Ibelgauptas, Ivari Ilja, Juris Žvikovs, and Toms Ostrovskis.

All in all a wonderful experience! I'd like to thank everyone who made my first ever trip to Latvia so beautiful and memorable.


For those of you who would like to catch my next performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, it'll be in Worthing on the 26th of November, 2023 with Dominic Grier and the Worthing Philharmonic Orchestra. See you there!

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