Winners of First e-Piano Junior Competition Revealed

7/18/2008 [Pianos & Keyboards]

Pianists Nansong Huang, 14, and Frank Duepree, 16, Split First prize; Gala Winners Concert Kicks Off the Minnesota Orchestra Sommerfest

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition is pleased to announce the winners of the first-ever e-Piano Junior Competition 2008. Nansong Huang, 14, of China and Frank Duepree, 16, of Germany, shared first prize on a split decision. Russia's Osip Nikiforov, 14, and Canada's Jan Lisiecki, 13, split the third prize; Vladimir Levitsky, 16, of Russia was awarded the fifth prize. No second or fourth prizes were awarded due to the divided decisions.

e-Piano Junior Competition Winners
The five finalists of the 2008 e-Piano Junior Competition. Front row: Osip Nikiforov, Nansong Huang. Back Row: Vladimir Levitsky, Jan Lisiecki, Frank Duepree.
The winners were announced at an awards ceremony on July 11, 2008 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. The ceremony, featuring a Yamaha Disklavier performance reproducing piano, video projector and screen set up on stage, gave the audience an opportunity to experience the same breathtaking video-sync technology used in the virtual audition phase of the competition. At the moment each prize was announced, the winner's performances from earlier in the week were played by the Disklavier, along with synchronized video of the performance. Later that day, the two first place winners performed their winning piano concerto movements with the Minnesota Orchestra. The Gala Concert was a part of the annual Macy's Day of Music and served as a kickoff for Minnesota Orchestra's 29th annual Sommerfest.

"The e-Piano Junior competition literally raised the level of the general competition," said James Steeber, Director of Yamaha Artist Services, Inc. "MIPeC was fortunate that its first batch of semi-finalists were such inspired artists with great technique and a natural bond with audiences. That these contestants were, essentially, children, is what is so astounding about this first-ever e-Piano Junior, and it has paved the way for this competition to flourish and expand into the future. I'm proud that Yamaha has played a central role in helping to make this competition a reality and hope that future performing careers have been potentially launched as a result."

Mr. Huang and Mr. Duepree shared a cash prize of $8,000, made possible by the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition, Yamaha Corporation of America and other corporate sponsors; third place winners Osip Nikiforov and Jan Lisiecki split a $3,000 cash prize, while the fifth place prize of $1,000 went to Vladimir Levitsky. Additionally, all of the winners will be invited to perform at the Yamaha Artist Services Piano Salon in New York City.

Nansong Huang was born in Hei Longjiang, China in 1993. He began to study piano at age four and has been under the instruction of Professor Jin Zhang, dean of the Preparatory Music School of the Central Conservatory of Music, since 2002. In 2005, Nansong took third prize for the 12 and under division of the Franz Liszt Children & Youth International Piano Competition in Weimar, and won first prize for the 12 and under category for the fifth International Competition for Young Pianists "A Step To Mastery," held in St. Petersburg. The following year, Nansong won second prize in the tenth Ettlingen International Piano Competition for Young Pianists.

Born in Rastatt in 1991, Frank Duepree began studying piano performance at the age of five, and has studied under the direction of Sontraud Speidel at the University of Music in Karlsruhe since 1998. His accolades include several first prizes at "Jugend Musiziert," first prize at the 2006 International Piano Competition in Rome, first prize at the sixth International Piano Competition for Young Pianists "A Step to Mastery" in St. Petersburg, and first prize at the twelfth International Piano and Composition Competition "Carl Filtsch" in Romania.

Using the latest in music technology, the e-Piano Junior Competition, sponsored by Yamaha Corporation of America, enables young pianists from around the world to record and transmit their audition performances over the Internet through the use of a Yamaha Disklavier performance reproducing piano. This unique, nine-foot Concert Grand piano, in addition to being a concert-quality acoustic instrument, features a built-in system to record live performances as MIDI data. These performances are then recreated on other Disklavier pianos with each note and nuance delivered, precisely as the pianist originally recorded them.

At invitation-only screened auditions held in New York City, Vancouver, Moscow, Shanghai, Paris, Toronto and Los Angeles, applicants entered their digitally videotaped and recorded MIDI performances on Yamaha Disklavier pianos. These performances were then judged by a six-member screening panel at Yamaha Artist Services, Inc. in New York City.

For more information, visit For a multimedia presentation on the competition and how it works, visit

Audition recitals and final round performances are also available for the general public to download as MIDI files on their own computers or on their own Disklavier pianos from the e-competition home page.

For more information, write Yamaha Corporation of America, Piano Division, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA 90622, telephone (714) 522-9011, or e-mail

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