Chopin Competition ‘is tilted towards Asia’News
An interesting article on Nikkei Asia points out that the Chopin admits a far higher proportion of Asian contestants than other competitions.
The article is by Mari Yoshihara, professor of American studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She writes:
…Musicians of Asian descent comprised half of the top prize winners …
This year, 55 out of the 87 contestants who were selected to take part in the Chopin competition were Asian, somewhat higher than in other recent piano competitions. For instance, in the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition held in Brussels earlier this year, 26 out of the 58 pianists were Asian, and in the Leeds International Piano Competition in the U.K., Asians comprised 27 out of the 62 contestants.
There is a widespread perception that Asians are “overrepresented” in classical music. Indeed, many music conservatories and music departments today simply would not survive without Asian, especially Chinese, students….
However, it is also important to recognize the longer history and broader landscape of migration and intercultural contact that have made the classical music scene what it is today. Both in the Chopin Competition and in the classical music world generally, for many musicians the country of birth is not the same as the country of their upbringing, musical training or current residence.
Moreover, a number of “Asian musicians” are those whose parents or ancestors immigrated to the U.S., Canada or Europe in search of better livelihood, to attain education, or fleeing war or political persecution. There are also musicians with mixed heritage. Many musicians born and raised in Asia have left home to pursue advanced musical studies — Sorita, for instance, has studied in Russia and Poland, Kobayashi in the U.S. — while also maintaining personal connections and professional activities at home. Many musicians from Russia and Europe have just as complex backgrounds, trajectories and identifications.
All of this illustrates that classical music — often considered the epitome of Western high art — is not an enclosed province of European culture. What is understood today as “classical music” originated in 18th-century Europe and developed through the growth of bourgeois society and industrialization in the 19th century….
Read the full article here.