After identifying a gap for young pianists to compete against each other on an equal platform at national level, this one-of-a-kind South African competition was established by Claudine van Breda and Dr Willie de Jager in 2011. Pandemic restrictions made it impossible to hold the competition in 2020, so its welcome return to the stage in 2021, and continued support and encouragement of local young talent, is cause for celebration.
It will award winners with R115,000 in total prize money, with a cash prize for the overall winner of R35 000. The three categories in which pianists participate are: 12 years and younger, 15 years and younger and 19 years and younger.
This year, 23 candidates were selected with participants from Pretoria, Johannesburg, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and even as far as Namibia. The participants were chosen based on recordings of their performance and strict rules apply with regard to the required repertoire.
The official opening of the Atterbury National Piano Competition 2021 took place on Monday 18 October. During this event, Qden Blaauw, the overall winner of 2019, delivered a short programme. Thereafter, the 2021 participants were introduced to the audience.
The competition consists of four rounds. All candidates will take part in Rounds 1 and 2 on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 October from 09:00 to 17:00. Following this, 18 semi-finalists will be announced who will advance to Round 3 on Thursday afternoon from 13:00. Upon completion of this round, the nine finalists from the three categories will be announced.
The competition concludes with a gala event on Friday evening 22 October at 19:00. The judges this year are Dr Charl du Plessis, Prof Hubert van der Spuy (patron) and pianist Claudia Strauss.
Atterbury Trust is the main sponsor of the competition, and several other sponsors contribute to the success of the competition. Zahn Hulme, who heads Atterbury Trust, says: “Exceptional talent should be nurtured, developed and given a platform to grow. We are delighted to encourage and showcase the musical excellence of South Africa’s youth. For this milestone 10th Atterbury National Piano Competition, wish every participant the very best. We are excited to once again experience unmissable performances by the country’s most accomplished young pianists.”