The 2021 Seattle International Piano Competition will be postponed to 2022. Look for updated rules and application procedures by January, 2022.

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2019 Competition Rules

Competition Categories
Competition Rounds
Category Specifics
Competition Format
Preliminary Round
Final Round

The Eighth SIPF Piano Competition, 2019, is open to pianists of all nationalities. Gold medal winners of any prior SIPF Piano Competition are ineligible from competing again in the same category (except Amateur gold medalists, who may compete in multiple editions of the competition (New!)). 

Note: alterations to rules or text appear in red.

COMPETITION CATEGORIES

The Piano Competition has six categories in which participants may compete:

  • youth, age 9 or under
  • youth, ages 10-13
  • youth, ages 14-18
  • amateur (including (A) and (B) sub-categories for degree holding and non-degree holding participants respectively)
  • collegiate
  • professional

COMPETITION ROUNDS

The 2019 competition consists of two rounds for fully-competitive participants (all categories with the exception of Youth, ages 9 and under, as well as Amateur categories):

  • a preliminary round based on submitted video links (made anonymous and blind to the listening committee) (NEW!)
  • a final live competition round in Seattle, Washington between October 12-14, 2019, which will be open to the public

For semi-competitive participants in Youth, ages 9 and under, and Amateur categories, the competition consists of a single round:

  • a preliminary round based on submitted video links (made anonymous and blind to the listening committee) (NEW!)
  • a final live debut recital appearance in Seattle, Washington between October 12-14, which will be open to the public (participant must attend and participate in order maintain eligibility of award status)

A description of each category, and its respective eligibility requirements and rules are listed hereafter. Changes from the 2017 rules are indicated by (NEW!).

CATEGORY SPECIFICS

YOUTH, AGES 9 AND UNDER

Participant must be of qualifying age on May 15, 2019.

The first and only round for this category consists of a submittal of video link(s) (NEW!) featuring the participant performing a piece(s) of his/her choice.

The suggested performance duration is 10 minutes in length or less.

Participants must submit:

  1. a completed electronic application registration
  2. an electronic payment using a credit card in the relevant amount ($100 USD)
  3. original video link following the specified guidelines (see below)

YOUTH, AGES 10-13

Participant must be of qualifying age on May 15, 2019.

The first of two rounds for this category consists of a submittal of video link(s) (NEW!) featuring the participant performing a piece(s) of his/her choice.

The suggested performance duration is 12 minutes in length or less.

Participants must submit:

  1. a completed electronic application registration
  2. an electronic payment using a credit card in the relevant amount ($120 USD)
  3. original video link following the specified guidelines (see below)

YOUTH, AGES 14-18

Participant must be of qualifying age on May 15, 2019. Participants, aged 18 or younger who are attending, or have been accepted, in a piano-related music degree program since applying to the Seattle International Piano Competition are still considered Youth, ages 14-18 participants, unless said participant was fully enrolled in such program during any part of the 2018-19 academic year; in this latter case, participants should apply as Collegiate artists.

The first of two rounds consists of a submittal of video link(s) (NEW!) featuring the participant performing a piece(s) of his/her choice.

The suggested performance duration is 15 minutes in length or less.

Participants must submit:

  1. a completed electronic application registration
  2. an electronic payment using a credit card in the relevant amount ($140 USD)
  3. original video link following the specified guidelines (see below)

AMATEUR (A)

Participant, aged 19 or older by May 15, 2019, must be studying or working in a vocation other than music. The participant must hold an earned degree in music with an emphasis in piano performance, but must not have been studying or earning a living in music at any point during 2019. There is no upper age limit for this category. Note that ‘studying’ is defined as enrollment in a degree program in the piano-related field of music. Taking weekly lessons or coaching with an instructor privately does not constitute ‘studying’.

The first and only round consists of a submittal of video link(s) (NEW!) featuring the participant performing a piece(s) of his/her choice.

The suggested performance duration is 20 minutes in length or less.

Participants must submit:

  1. a completed electronic application registration
  2. an electronic payment using a credit card in the relevant amount ($160 USD)
  3. a one-page electronic copy of a vitae of musical experience, education, and current vocation (if any). Note that the board may recommend a change from the Amateur (A) to the Amateur (B) category based on information contained in the vitae.
  4. original video link following the specified guidelines (see below)

AMATEUR (B)

Participant, aged 19 or older by May 15, 2019, must be studying or working in a vocation other than music. The participant may not hold a degree in music, and must not have been studying or earning a living in music at any point during 2019 (although enrollment and incomplete degree status in a music program at some point in the past is acceptable). There is no upper age limit for this category. Note that ‘studying’ is defined as enrollment in a degree program in the field of music. Taking weekly lessons or coaching with an instructor privately does not constitute ‘studying’.

The first and only round consists of a submittal of video link(s) (NEW!) featuring the participant performing a piece(s) of his/her choice.

The suggested performance duration is 20 minutes in length or less.

Participants must submit:

  1. a completed electronic application registration
  2. an electronic payment using a credit card in the relevant amount ($160 USD)
  3. original video link following the specified guidelines (see below)

COLLEGIATE

Participant must be enrolled in a college, university, or conservatory majoring in piano performance program during the 2018-19 academic year. Note that qualification in this division of the competition is based on the academic year during which one applies, not the year in which one participates in the final round. This enrollment must lead to an undergraduate or graduate non-terminal degree program in music (with a major or minor in piano), along a 4-year or 2-year bachelor or associate degree track, master of music degree, or any non-terminal equivalency. Participants enrolled in a terminal graduate degree program in music (such as PhD, DMA, or DM degree programs) are not eligible for the ‘collegiate’ category, and are eligible only for the ‘professional’ category. There is no upper age limit for this category.

The first of two rounds consists of a submittal of video link(s) (NEW!) featuring the participant performing a piece(s) of his/her choice.

The suggested performance duration is 20 minutes in length or less.

Participants must submit:

  1. a completed electronic application registration
  2. an electronic payment using a credit card in the relevant amount ($160 USD)
  3. original video link following the specified guidelines (see below)

PROFESSIONAL

Participants must hold the minimum of a Master of Music degree or its equivalent by the by the date of application into the 2019 Seattle International Piano Competition. This category also includes participants who may be enrolled in a terminal graduate degree music program (such as PhD, DM, or DMA degree programs) during the 2018-19 academic year, or have considerable professional performing experience. Such performance credentials may include such things as membership in a professional management agency, a significant number of annual concert engagements, or other similar criteria. The participant must be either studying or living as a professional musician and/or music teacher during 2019. There is no upper age limit for this category.

The first of two rounds consists of a submittal of video link(s) (NEW!) featuring the participant performing a piece(s) of his/her choice.

The suggested performance duration is 20 minutes in length or less.

Participants must submit:

  1. a completed electronic application registration
  2. an electronic payment using a credit card in the relevant amount ($160 USD)
  3. a one-page electronic copy of a vitae of musical experience and education
  4. original video link following the specified guidelines (see below)

COMPETITION FORMAT

The 2019 piano competition consists of two rounds*:

  1. a preliminary round based on recordings submitted by the participant; and
  2. a final live competition round in Seattle, Washington, between October 12-14.

The final round is open to the public and will be held at Benaroya Hall.

* Exception: Youth, Ages 9 and under, as well as Amateur categories; for these groups, the competition is considered ‘semi-competitive’, conducted solely from recordings submitted by the participant.

PRELIMINARY ROUND

REPERTOIRE

There are no program requirements of solo classical repertoire in any category, with the exception that no works requiring any sort of preparation or amplification of the piano will be admitted for either the preliminary or final round. No styles, including jazz, new age, free improvisation, or pop music of any kind are acceptable. Works performed must be complete movements (no cuts or excerpts allowed). Examples include the entire first movement of Beethoven’s “Waldstein” sonata, Op. 53 or all ten variations of Mozart’s entire set, “Unser dummer Pöbel meint”, K. 455. Miniatures, including etudes, scherzi, dances, and the like, may be chosen singly, completely, or among a subset of selected favorites and need not be presented entirely in their cyclic form. Portions of movements, such as only the prelude from a prelude and fugue by J. S. Bach, or the exposition section of a sonata by Mozart, are not acceptable. All works performed must be solo works. Chamber music, works for 4-hands/2-pianos, or concerti are also not admissible. Participants need not, and should not, include scores with preliminary round submissions or during the final round of the competition.

VIDEO PREPARATION

It is to the participant’s benefit to provide a recording of high quality. Recordings with too much background noise or distortion make it difficult for adjudicators to render a fair judgment of technical and artistic qualities. However, recordings need not be professionally edited.

(NEW!) New in 2019, the SIPF requires a video link(s) from a streaming service playable in the United States, such as YouTube, Vimeo, or the like. Each presented work must be contained on a separate link.

Furthermore, observe the following requirements:

  • the camera angle must be fixed (no multiple angles), clearly showing both the performer’s hands and face at all times
  • the footage must contain no more than 5 seconds of leader (silence) before the commencement of the performance
  • the footage may not contain any speaking or other audible clues as to the identity of the performer (however, the links may contain whatever text you wish)
  • multiple links are listed in the application according to your desired presentation order
  • all performances recorded strictly by memory (Exception: Note that Amateur (B) participants are released from the memorization requirement.)

Although the video quality must be clear enough to recognize the participant and speak to the authenticity of the performance, the most important aspect is the audio quality. The use of a well-prepared and maintained acoustic piano is strongly urged, as is the efforts taken to produce an audio of high fidelity.

Avoid recording performances with cell phones and consumer-grade cameras. Such devices often compress the sound (removing the natural ambiance and compressing dynamic sound levels), yielding poor audio quality. Participants may opt to record at a professional studio, record audio from a sound recording device (such as a flash recorder), or use a higher-grade camera with external microphones and dedicated sound capturing capability.

Note that any audio identification of the performer, including spoken dialogue, or vocalization may result in the instant disqualification of the participant without notice or refund. The SIPF takes no responsibility nor is liable for technical errors resulting from recording methods or failure for a video to stream. Ensure that the streaming video service you choose is easily accessible in the United States. The SIPF strongly encourages participants to keep all video links publicly accessible and takes no responsibility for inaccessible video links due to privately shared status. Participants who include multiple works on a single video link rather than separate links are urged to include chapter marks for ease of transport searching.

Review all tracks carefully and completely so that they are free of flaws or other unanticipated issues.

PRELIMINARY ROUND PROCEDURES

All preliminary performers are randomly numbered and made anonymous to the listening committee, which will be assembled from a pool of artist teachers. These committees will not be assembled until after all applications have been collected in order to facilitate fair and unbiased adjudication (such as might occur when assigning a juror to a category in which a former or current student may be participating). Preliminary round participants will be selected by the listening committee to compete in the final live round to the general public in Seattle, Washington between October 12-14.

Selected finalists will be notified shortly on or after August 1, 2019. At that time, these selected participants must declare their intent to continue to the live final round in Seattle between October 12-14. Failure to appear will result in the ineligibility of any prize. Selected finalists who choose to appear at the final round must notify the SIPF board in writing (e-mails are acceptable) by August 10, 2019, at which date they must remit the requested biographic materials, headshot photos, and program.

Although preliminary recordings are submitted in video format, all rounds of the 2019 Seattle International Piano Competition are still conducted blind. The purpose of video is for the SIPF board to verify authenticity of a performance, but are played without video reference to the listening committee (NEW!).

APPLICATION DEADLINE

All preliminary round submission and applications must be submitted by May 15 July 10, 2019. [Note that May 15 remains the cutoff date for all eligibility requirements due to age, matriculation, or graduation status; for example, Youth 9 and under must be 9 years of age or less on or before May 15.] For those submitting applications near the deadline, please ensure that all required application materials have been collected and prepared. Incomplete applications or improper submittals may result in delay, or potentially the participant’s disqualification without notice or refund.

FINAL ROUND

REPERTOIRE AND PROGRAM GUIDELINES

The following time limits are imposed for finalists notified to compete during the October, 2019 final round in Seattle. The participant’s final round program may be different than, or identical to that submitted on the preliminary round recording. Finalists must declare their final round program strictly within the time limits outlined above in writing by August 10, 2019 (e-mail preferred), complete with opus/catalog number and movement information (where applicable) with timing. This timing must be accurate and strictly within the final round limits listed below. If the performer exceeds his or her time, he/she may be stopped during the live final round performance. Absolutely no alteration to the submitted repertoire list of the final round may be made at any time once the participant has remitted his or her acceptance. The final round program must adhere to the same standards and requirements of that listed above in ‘REPERTOIRE’.

Note: Amateur medalists selected by the preliminary listening committee may be asked to prepare one of the works from his or her submission (NEW!).

CATEGORY SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS

YOUTH, AGES 9 OR LESS

Up to 8 unranked winners from the preliminary round will be chosen to make a debut performance at Benaroya Hall during the Seattle Int’l Piano Festival between October 12-14.

Each participant’s program must be 6 minutes in length or less

YOUTH, AGES 10-13

Up to 8 finalists will be chosen to compete live at Benaroya Hall during the Seattle Int’l Piano Festival between October 12-14.

Each participant’s program must be 10 minutes in length or less

YOUTH, AGES 14-18

Up to 8 finalists will be chosen to compete live at Benaroya Hall during the Seattle Int’l Piano Festival between October 12-14.

Each participant’s program must be 12 minutes in length or less

AMATEUR

Up to 8 unranked winners from the preliminary round will be chosen to make a debut performance at Benaroya Hall during the Seattle Int’l Piano Festival between October 12-14.

Each participant’s program must be 15 minutes in length or less

COLLEGIATE

Up to 8 finalists will be chosen to compete live at Benaroya Hall during the Seattle Int’l Piano Festival between October 12-14.

Each participant’s program must be 20 minutes in length or less

PROFESSIONAL

Up to 8 finalists will be chosen to compete live at Benaroya Hall during the Seattle Int’l Piano Festival between October 12-14.

Each participant’s program must be 20 minutes in length or less

FINAL ROUND PROCEDURES

No finalist will be required to perform earlier than their assigned time in the case of a last minute cancelation or absence. The performance order within each category will be randomly determined. Absolutely no accommodation will be made to any request to alter the order once announced. All finalists and unranked winners must appear at his or her respective performance time in Illsley Ball Recital Hall at Benaroya during the Seattle Int’l Piano Festival between October 12-14. Similarly, all participants, with the exception of Youth, ages 9 and under and Outstanding Amateurs, must plan to attend the award ceremony during the evening of awards immediately following the professional final round at the end of festival, at which time prizes will be announced. Likewise, all finalists must be prepared to stay through the end of the festival weekend in the case that he or she will be asked to perform in the winners’ concert. Participants must appear and participate during these events, including winners’ concert concert at the end of the festival in order to preserve eligibility of any award and to receive award prize money. Any act of dishonesty will result in the immediate disqualification of the participant from any competitive or performance opportunities during the SIPF.

Note that to sustain the equitable nature of of the Seattle International Piano Competition, the 2019 jury will be seated behind a curtain during the proceedings of the final round. Finalists may not approach or identify themselves to any juror prior to the announcement of winners at the end of the 2019 Seattle International Piano Festival.

PRACTICE

Finalists will be assigned practice time prior to the competition to those who request such accommodation for non-local finalists only. Due to the limited availability of instruments, we cannot guarantee more than one hour of practice time in total. A brief warm-up will be possible in the dressing room of the performance hall immediately prior to the participant’s start time.

JUDGES’ DECISIONS

The final round will be judged by a pool of internationally trained artists musicians and pedagogues (see JURY on the website). The jurors are not permitted to evaluate a current or former student with whom he or she has worked during the past five years. In such situations, a nonpartisan juror will be selected to substitute in a given category, or vote in the case of a tie. The decision of the jury on both the preliminary round and final round is final and not subject to question, review, or appeal. All participants must agree to waive any and all claims of liability (see ‘Release, Waiver, and Sworn Statement’).

Preliminary round participants will not receive any written commentary. Finalists will have the opportunity to speak with jurors after the announcement of awards during the evenings following competitive events of the SIPF.

Top ranked semi-finalists will be invited to participate in a special recital inaugurating the 2019 SIPF in October before a live audience in Benaroya Hall in Seattle. All winners, finalists, and semi-finalists will be listed on this website shortly following the 2019 festival (requests to be exempt from the list will be denied). Current instructors of finalists and winners will also be listed on our Master Teachers page.

TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION

Finalists must be prepared to travel to Seattle, Washington, USA at his or her own expense. The organizers do not provide housing, but a list of housing choices, including potential host families, will be provided upon request. Host families are allotted only for Professional and Collegiate finalists traveling alone. The organizers offer no guarantee that they will be able to fulfill a host family stay request. Non US residents are responsible for obtaining a visa, if necessary, to participate in the final round.