Maria Canals International Music Competition
Initiated in 1954 by the pianist Maria Canals and her husband, the writer Rossend Llates, the Maria Canals International Music Competition seeks to promote musical and artistic excellency by supporting young talent across the world. It is considered a global competition of reference and is the oldest competition in Spain, as well as one of the first ones in the world to be accepted in 1958 by the World Federation of International Music Competitions.
In all these years, the competition has been attended by over 7,000 participants from the five continents and has enjoyed the unselfish collaboration of 180 jury members from around the world. This competition has helped launch and consolidate many of the most renowned pianists in the past decades.
During the invitation to the competition's tests, which always take place at the Palau de la Música, over one hundred families from Barcelona lend their pianos and open the doors to their homes so that the participants can study.
The Fundación Jesús Serra has been supporting the winners of the competition since 2008 with a tour throughout different cities. This year the chosen cities are Madrid, Tenerife, Seville, and Bilbao. In addition, as an acknowledgement to its intensive support to music, this year the competition's first prize will be called Premio Fundación Jesús Serra.
From March 23 to April 4 of 2019 at the Palau de la Música Catalana, the 65th edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition will be held.
Deadline for registration: December 10, 2018.More information
Winners of previous editions
Evgeny Konnov (2018)
Evgeny Konnov is a Russian pianist. He has given concerts in numerous concert halls in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Malta, Poland and Russia. In 2014 he won the first prize at the “Siegfried Gschwilm” Internastional Piano Competition in Augsburg, Germany. In 2016 he won the first prize at the “Piano Talents” Int. Piano Competition in Milan, Italy. In 2016 he won the first prize in two categories: “Superior" and “Excellence" and special prize of "Best execution of Russian music" at the International Piano Competition of “Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem” in Rabat, Marocco.
In 2017 he won the first prize at the 1st Clavis Bavaris and the special prize of “Best execution of Russian music" Int. Piano Competition in Bad Tolz (Germany). In 2017 he won the first prize at the 1st Mozart International Competition in Berlin (Germany). In 2017 he won the first prize in the Malta International Piano Festival and Competition in Valletta (Malta). In 2017 he won the first prize and Concert tour in the Concurso Internacional de Piano “Compositores de España" in Madrid, Spain. In 2017 he won the first prize at the II Future Stars International Piano Competition, among other awards.
Levon Avagyan (2017)
Levon Avagyan was born in 1990 in Yerevan, Armenia and studied at the Komitas State Conservatory of his hometown, under the teacher Vagharshak Harutyunyan. Since 2010, he has continued his training with the teacher Milana Chernyavska at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst of Graz (Austria).
In the 63rd edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition of Barcelona, held in 2017, he won the first prize and the audience prize, as well as several special acknowledgements. Despite his youth, he has won many international awards during his musical career, including the first prize in the international piano competitions Forum Per Tasti, in Slovakia (2015), and Roberta Gallinari, in Italy (2015); and the second prize in the 18th edition of the Santa Cecília competition in Portugal (2016) and the Isidor Bajic competition in Serbia (2016).
Avagyan, a member of the cultural project Kammerton (Germany), the Spivakov Foundation (Russia), and the Fondation Clavarte (Switzerland), has obtained special grants from renowned organizations, such as the Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe, the Ezoe Memorial Foundation, and the Tokuji Munegutsu Foundation. In addition, he has participated in master classes offered by musicians of the caliber of Arie Vardi, Dimitri Bashkirov, Hung-Kuan Chen, Paul Badura-Skoda, Klaus Hellwig, and Boris Berezovsky.
Since 2011, he has been a member of the Internationale Musikakademie of Liechtenstein, where he participates regularly in master classes and in whose concert series he performs.
Hiroo Sato (2016)
The winner of the 62nd edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition, held in 2016, was Japanese pianist Hiroo Sato, who was also awarded the audience prize. After graduating from the Tokyo College of Music High School and the Tokyo College of Music, he continued his studies at the Universität der Künste of Berlin (Germany) and the Tchaikovsky conservatory of Moscow (Russia).
He has participated in several renowned competitions, in which he obtained several awards, such as the first prize in the 5th edition of the St. Nicola di Bari competition (Italy) and in the 76th edition of the international music competition of Japan and in the Minoru Nojima Yokosuka (Japan), as well as the second prize in the 21st edition of Ricard Viñes (Spain).
Throughout his career, Sato has performed in several festivals, alone and with renowned orchestras, such as the Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo and the Philharmonic Orchestras of Tokyo and Kyoto, as well as on stages such as the exchange concert for young artists between Japan and Germany and as a soloist in the international festival Young Prague. He has also recorded albums, among which are “Hiroo Sato plays 3 Sonatas” and “Piano Recital”. He is currently continuing his education with the teachers Elisso Virsaladze, Kazuko Sumi, and Minoru Nojima.
Danylo Saienko (2015)
When he was barely six years old, Danylo Saienko started playing the piano and graduated from the Solomia Krushelnytska specialized music school for gifted children in Ukraine. He currently studies at the Mykola Lysenko national conservatory in his home town, Lviv, in Ukraine.
Winner of the 61st edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition, held in 2015, Danylo was awarded a medal unanimously two years earlier in this same competition. The final test took place at the Palau de la Música, in which the participants were accompanied by the Jove Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya (JONC), directed by Manuel Valdivieso. The three finalists chose the same piece by Tchaikovsky among the eight available: the “Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23”. After the concerts, the jury, chaired by Carlos Cebro, gave Saienko the highest score and awarded him with the first prize: 15,000 euros and a tour of recitals and concerts supported by our Foundation.
This prize is added to the many awards he has obtained in international competitions, such as the Chopin of Lviv, the Emil Gilels of Odessa, the Mykola Lysenko of Kiev (all three in Ukraine), or the Zlotyj Parnas award in the piano festival of Sanok (Poland).
Regina Chernychko (2014)
The young pianist Regina Chernychko, winner of the 60th edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition, held in 2014, was born in Járkov (Ukraine), and she initiated her piano education at the special middle school of her hometown with Irina Surjenko. She also received lessons from her mother, Inna Chernychko, and teachers such as Svetlana Zakharova, Olga Rissin-Morenova, Leonid Margarius, and Ralf Gothóni.
Chernychko has played concerts together with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Járkov, the Symphony Orchestra of Rome, the Mediterranean Chamber Orchestra, and the Symphony Orchestra of Vallès, among others.
Besides the first prize in the Maria Canals competition, she has been awarded the diplomas of Frederic Chopin (Poland), Stupen K. Masterstvu (Russia), and Ricard Viñes (Spain).
Stanislav Khristenko (2013)
The Russian Stanislav Khristenko studied piano in Moscow between 1998 and 2003; subsequently, he graduated with honors in piano performance and studied a master's degree at the Tchaikovsky conservatory in the same city. In 2010, he finished his studies in the Cleveland Institute of Music in the United States.
Throughout his career, he has received awards such as the first prize in the international competitions Parnassós (Mexico) and Città di Cantù (Italy), as well as the third prize in the piano competition of New Orleans. To this list, we have to add the prestigious first prize in the 59th edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition.
Khristenko has played on stages of countries such as Austria, Italy, Spain, and the United States, and he has collaborated with prestigious orchestras from around the world.
Soo-Jung Ann (2012)
The pianist from Seoul (South Korea) Soo-Jun Ann graduated from Korea National University of Arts in Music, and she has a master's degree in Musical Performance from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where she also obtained her PhD under the direction of teachers John O’Connor and Thérèse Fahy. In 2012, she won the first prize in the 58th edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition, after which she continued her studies in the Universität Mozarteum of Salzburg (Austria).
Before the Maria Canals competition, Ann had obtained several awards in events such as the international piano competitions of Hong Kong or Hamamatsu (Japan) or Chopin of Salzburg (Austria), among others.
She has performed on stages in Korea (with the Prime Philharmonic Orchestra), France (Animato recital), and Ireland (yearly concerts by the Symphony Orchestra RIAM).
Mateusz Borowiak (2011)
Born in London (United Kingdom) and with dual citizenship —British and Polish—, Mateusz Borowiak was the winner of the 57th edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition, held in 2011, where he was the youngest participant.
After having studied composition and piano at the Junior Guildhall School of Music & Drama and music at the Girton College of Cambridge, both in the United Kingdom, he has performed in the main concert halls of this country (Barbican, St. James’s Church Piccadilly, King’s College Chapel, and West Road Concert Hall), as well as in festivals such as King’s Lynn, Lower Machen, Northern Aldborough, Stratford on Avon, and Cambridge. She has also played concerts across Europe and performed with renowned orchestras, such as the Royal Philharmonic, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, the Silesian Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonietta Krakow, and the Czestochowa Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Maria Canals award is just another one of the many piano and composition awards that he has obtained, such as the AGSMD Piano Performing Diploma with high honors in 2006, when he was only seventeen years old; the first prize in the competitions Royal Over-Seas League and Christopher Duke (United Kingdom); the audience prize in the 21st edition of the Rina Sala Gallo in Monza (Italy); and the awards Eiluned Davies, Lutine, and Sir Arthur Bliss (United Kingdom), among others, in addition to university honors including grants from, for example, the Girton College Music and Sophia Turtle.
Denis Zhdanov (2010)
Born in Chernigov (Ukraine) in 1988, Denis Zhdanov was trained in the international piano academy of Incontri col Maestro of Imola (Italy), under the tutorship of the teacher Leonid Margarius, and in the national conservatory of Kiev (Ukraine), with the teacher Boris Fedorov. He took his first piano lessons with V. Danilova, at the age of nine, in his hometown, and he received several awards in his first years of education. Subsequently, when he turned fifteen, he moved to Kiev, where he continued his education at the Mykola Lysenko national conservatory with the teacher T. Abayeva. In his pursuit of improving his artistic development, he received master classes from renowned pianists, such as Dmitri Alexeev, Alexander Braginsky, Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Klaus Hellwig, Wolfgang Manz, John Rose, and Anna Malikova, among others.
Zhdanov began his international career giving concerts and he debuted as a soloist with an orchestra in a recital in 2007, in Łódź (Poland), which was very well received by the audience and critics. During the following year, he participated in two concerts of the first international piano festival Arthur Rubinstein, in the same Polish town. There in October 2009 he performed the “Piano Concerto No. 1” by Chopin in a special event that commemorated the 160th anniversary of his death. In 2010 he was invited to give a recital in Kiev at the 200th anniversary of the birth of this composer. Two years later, the Fundación Jesús Serra enjoyed his presence in Tenerife, in a concert performed at the fantastic Auditorio Adán Martín, together with the Symphony Orchestra of Tenerife; and in Granada, in the Auditorio Manuel de Falla.
Besides the first prize in the 56th edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition, in 2010, Zhdanov has been awarded several prizes, such as the first prize in the 7th international piano competition for young people Arthur Rubinstein in Memoriam in Bydgoszcz (Poland, 2007); the first prize and special award in the 19th edition of the Premio Chopin in Rome (Italy, 2009); the third prize in the international competition of Tbilisi (Georgia, 2005); and the fourth prize and special award to the best performance of a classical sonata in the same competition.
Vestard Shimkus (2009)
The Latvian pianist Vestard Shimkus, winner in 2009 of the 55th edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition, is currently an internationally renowned musician. He began playing piano at barely five years old and his international recognition started after playing with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and the National Orchestra of France, among others.
His performances are recognized not only for his “naturally brilliant technique”, as described by the German newspaper Main Post,but also for the passion he projects and his extreme attention when it comes to transmitting the real emotional meaning of each musical phrase, which he aims at the listener's imagination. We were lucky to witness this at the three successful concerts that he played in collaboration with our Foundation in 2011 in Bilbao, Tenerife, and Granada.
Shimkus has received many awards for his musical brilliance, among which are the Order of the White Star of Estonia and the Gold Decoration of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for his outstanding contribution to the concert series dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Chopin.
Martina Filjak (2008)
The Croatian pianist Martina Filjak, winner of the 54th edition of the Maria Canals International Music Competition in 2008, has obtained major international recognition after receiving, in addition to this first prize, awards such as the gold medal, the first prize and the Beethoven Prize in the international piano competition of Cleveland (2009); the first prize in the Viotti piano competition in Vercelli (Italy, 2007); and the fifth prize in the Ferruccio Busoni competition (Italy, 2007).
In the last few years, she has performed with important international orchestras, such as the Cleveland orchestra; the Symphony Orchestras of Barcelona, Bilbao, Granada, Nancy, and San Diego; the Philharmonic Orchestra of Strasbourg and the Israel Chamber Orchestra; and she has played concerts on stages such as the Palau de la Música of Barcelona, the Konzerthaus of Berlin (Germany), the Jordan Hall of Boston (United States), the Sala Verdi of Milan (Italy), the Konzerthaus of Vienna (Austria), and the Auditorio Nacional of Madrid.
Thanks to the Fundación Jesús Serra, in 2009 she delighted us with three magnificent concerts held in Bilbao and Tenerife. Such was the success that she had to repeat the experience with an additional recital in Granada in the following year. In 2011, she played together with the Symphony Orchestra of Madrid in the capital city, in a concert that was held on the occasion of the festivities of Santa Cecilia with huge success.