Yevgeny Yontov '14MM won the gold medal and the William Peyton Shehee and Virginia Kilpatrick Shehee Award at the 63rd Wideman International Piano Competition, held in Shreveport, La. The finals took place on Sunday, December 8.
Yontov, one of nine finalists who emerged after preliminary rounds on Friday and Saturday, won with his performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26.
The winner began his piano studies at age 6 with Adela Umansky and later earned his bachelor of music degree summa cum laude from the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at Tel-Aviv University, where he studied with Arie Vardi. Yontov currently studies with Boris Berman at the Yale School of Music.
“We had some awesome, amazing young pianists,” said Lester Senter Wilson, the competition’s executive director, as quoted in the Shreveport Times. “The standard has just been unbelievable. We had nine people in the finals. We’ve never had that many, but the judges felt like the standards were so high and there were so many of them that were so good that we needed to put them in.”
In addition to the cash prize of $5,000, gold medalist Yontov also will have an opportunity to perform with the Shreveport, Northwest Florida, and South Arkansas symphony orchestras, and in recitals at the Phillips Collection Concert Series (Washington, D.C.), the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series (Chicago), the Emmett Hook Chamber Texas Street Artist Recital Series, and the Shreveport Symphony Chamber Series.
The Nena Wideman Piano Competition, which began in 1950, is held annually the first weekend of December, at Centenary College-Hurley School of Music. The competition attracts outstanding pianists from throughout the United States and abroad. Nationally and internationally known pianists and conductors serve as judges. Nena Wideman, a former member of the Centenary College piano faculty, oversaw the first competition and continued until her death in 1983. In 1982, an endowment was created by the Shreveport Symphony in honor of Mrs. Wideman, establishing the permanence of this annual event.