Honens piano competition finalists face off in Calgary

Talented classical pianists from around the world are competing in Calgary for the chance of winning $100,000 in the Honens International Piano Competition.
Some of the best pianists in the world face off tonight in Calgary. 2:05

Talented classical pianists from around the world are competing in Calgary for the chance of winning $100,000 in the Honens International Piano Competition.

The winner will be announced Friday night at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, and live coverage starts at 7:30 MT with the two remaining finalists, Maria Mazo and Jong-Hai Park, each playing Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1.

One pianist will be named the Honens Laureate and will also receive a three-year artistic and career development program valued at $500,000. 

Eric Zuber was one of the top five finalists, which also qualifies him for a $10,000 prize.

He has been training, performing and competing for months, but said he finally feels relaxed.

"I did a fairly good job that I can be proud of and that's the best you can do in these things, you know. If you come you give yourself a shot at winning — [if] you don't sabotage yourself on stage in any way," he laughed. 

The 27-year-old American pianist performed Thursday night with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

"Everyone is appreciative of the fact that it's not just a cash prize, that they are very helpful in giving you concerts, representation and other career assistance," said Zuber.

The Honens competition started in 1992 with the aim to shed light on talented young classical musicians.

"We have a whole roster of great past winners, and we don't just throw them to the side, once they're in the Honens family, they're there to stay," said Honens president Stephen McHolm.

Pavel Kolesnikov is also looking to join the Honens family.

The 23-year-old Russian also qualifies for a $10,000 award for reaching the top five.

"I'm so much absorbed by the work that I'm playing, very excited about it and I'm trying to penetrate into the feelings of the composer."

CBC Music has been following the competition closely and will be putting up a blog post containing the video of the first-prize winning concerto performance on Saturday.