American pianists Addison Frei (Jazz) as well as Romanian pianist Daniel Ciobanu (Classical) were announced as winners of the 13th Unisa International Piano Competition in front of a filled ZK Matthews Great Hall on Saturday 06 February 2016. The Grand Finale signalled a close to a two week programme which had seen the piano take centre-stage at Unisa and marked an achievement of the Unisa Music Foundation who took a bold step in combining the two categories of jazz and classical: a first for the world.
The final round of the competition featured three classical pianists and three jazz pianists performing with a symphony orchestra and rhythm section respectively on two separate nights. The classical pianists each performed a piano concerto and the jazz finalists performed a 30 minute programme with bass and drums.
Daniel Cionbanu impressed jury and audience alike with his performance of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op 43; while Mr Frei dazzled with a medley of Slow boat to China (Frank Loesser), Theme from Symphony no 4 (Johannes Brahms), The grind (an original work), Ruby my dear (Thelonious Monk), Chega de Saudade (Antonio Carlos Jobim) and I’m an old cowhand (Johnny Mercer). Their cumulative scores for the four rounds ensured their place as winners of this year’s competition.
During the prize giving ceremony, Unisa Vice-Chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya, emphasised feedback from the judges saying that the level of performance was exceptional and that this paid testament to the calibre of competitors the competition consistently attracts.
Special awards went to South African’s Megan-Geoffrey Prins for best performance of a South African classical work (by Bongani Ndodana-Breen) and Lungelo Ngcobo for best performance of a South African jazz work (by Concord Nkabinde).
Daniel Ciobanu will return to South Africa for a concert tour in 2017.