ASTORIA, NY (August 13, 2020) – This week, Piano Cleveland—with the enthusiastic support and sponsorship of Steinway & Sons—concluded an innovative global piano competition that spanned 12 days and raised more than $62,000 in relief funds for piano artists affected by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. The Virtu(al)oso competition culminated in Sunday’s announcement of London’s Martin James Bartlett as the First Prize Winner. Bartlett competed against 29 additional participants hailing from 18 different countries.
The format of the competition was designed to accommodate the limitations of pandemic quarantine and to allow for safe, socially distanced participation. Steinway & Sons proudly hosted each competitor to record two short programs at Steinway showrooms in Cleveland, New York, London, Hamburg, and Beijing. At each showroom, Steinway provided a world-class Steinway Model D concert grand piano and highly skilled technicians to support the artists. Piano Cleveland coordinated the competition and provided masterful production under the oversight of Video Production Director Mark Dumm. Six of the initial 30 contestants advanced to the final round of competition, during which they performed recitals that were vetted by a remote jury of renowned artists including Steinway Artists Olga Kern and Pierre van der Westhuizen.
The competition yielded 36 performances and 72 hours of live-streamed content that aired globally with over 36,000 live-stream views and ongoing archival footage. Viewers of Virtu(al)oso were able to tune in as the competition intensified on Piano Cleveland’s website as well as on YouTube and Facebook. Piano Cleveland also established an online platform to allow viewing audiences to donate to individual pianists during and after the competition. Through this innovative structure, audience members and supporters have to date donated over $62,000 to support the contestants, and donations continue to accumulate.
“At Steinway, we believe in the healing power of music, so it was very important to us to get involved with Virtu(al)oso.”
As the First Prize Winner, Martin James Bartlett receives a minimum of $2,500 USD, a recording on the Steinway & Sons label, a recital in Cleveland presented by Piano Cleveland, and comprehensive artist career consulting services from Jonathan Eifert Public Relations. Because Bartlett has an existing exclusive recording contract with Warner Classics, he has generously offered to partially distribute his prize package and will award the Steinway recording contract to Second Prize Winner Arseny Gusev of Russia.
“Obviously, the global pandemic has wreaked havoc on the performing arts world, and the piano community grieves for the loss of performing opportunities for so many artists that have unique musical gifts to share with the world,” said Ron Losby, President and CEO of Steinway & Sons. “At Steinway, we believe in the healing power of music, so it was very important to us to get involved with Virtu(al)oso. We see the competition as a chance to help artists and to share beautiful piano music with the world at the same time. I am very pleased at how our showrooms around the world worked together to support this incredible competition.”
“We are humbled by the support we’ve seen from around the globe and grateful to viewers who have left indelible impressions on our musicians during a time of uncertainty.”
Steinway Piano Gallery Cleveland, in particular, was a passionate supporter of Virtu(al)oso and worked closely with Piano Cleveland to make the event a reality. Steinway Piano Gallery Cleveland has been an integral part of the Ohio piano community since 1978.
“The donations raised for our artists speaks volumes to the impact this competition has had on the contestants and community,” said Yaron Kohlberg, President of Piano Cleveland. “We are humbled by the support we’ve seen from around the globe and grateful to viewers who have left indelible impressions on our musicians during a time of uncertainty.”
Donations to Virtu(al)oso piano contestants can still be made on pianocleveland.org until August 24, 2020, and the full broadcast is available on the Piano Cleveland and Steinway & Sons YouTube channels.
About Piano Cleveland
Established in 1974, Piano Cleveland promotes Cleveland as a premier piano destination by presenting world-class programming and community engagement and education initiatives. The organization’s four major programs and events include the quadrennial Cleveland International Piano Competition, CIPC for Young Artists, Concert Series, and year-round education and community outreach programming. For more information, visit pianocleveland.org.
About Steinway & Sons
Since 1853, Steinway pianos have set an uncompromising standard for sound, touch, beauty, and investment value. Because of a dedication to continuous improvement, today’s Steinway remains the choice of 9 out of 10 concert artists, and it is the preferred piano of countless musicians, professional and amateur, throughout the world. For more information, visit www.steinway.com.
Nicole Mieske Knab
Steinway & Sons