Boston International Piano Competition 2017
Competitors A-G H-P R-Z

Rady Almadany

Rady Almadany is the founder of a special educational and therapeutic approach through music for people with Autism. He studied piano from childhood and worked with professors from English (Cynthia Wadi) and Russian (Victor Bunin) schools. He earned a first class honors performance degree from the Ecole Normal de Musique in Paris after working with French pianists such as France Clidat ans Francoise Thinat. He participated in several piano competitions but his MD diploma and clinical research work experience made him passionate in Music-Medicine and application of music to reach clinical objectives. After obtaining his diploma in music therapy, he established his clinical-music activity to help people with Autism and other developmental problems. He became also a professional in sound-listening therapy as he always searches how to offer people the possibility to develop skills and to have a better understanding and interaction with their surroundings.

Preliminary Round
Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13 in A Minor 
Bizet/Horowitz - Variations on a Theme from Carmen, White House Version

Semi Final Round
J.S. Bach - Capriccio in B-flat Major, "On the Departure of a Friend”
                3. Sorrow and Regret; 
                4. Farewell 
Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C-sharp Minor

Final Round
Debussy - Poissons d'or, from Images Bk 2
Debussy - L'isle joyeuse
Messiaen - Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jésus No. 19, “Je dors, mais mon cœur veille”
Piazzolla - Adios Nonino (performer special arrangement of Laercio de Freitas version)

Karen Astrachan

Karen Astrachan fell in love with the piano at age 4. She grew up in Westchester, NY where she studied with Drora Arnon. She went on to Yale University and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. While at Yale, Karen studied with Ward Davenny, and also worked with Donald Currier, Claude Frank and Baruch Arnon. She then went to law school at Boston College for two years and finished her final year at Yale Law School, and practiced corporate law in New Haven. Karen started a jewelry design business 15 years ago and has worked with many celebrities, fashion designers and magazine editors in the process. After her third child went off to college and too many years away from the piano, Karen again listened to her heart and returned to music. She is very fortunate to be currently studying with Wei-yi Yang. When Karen is not at the piano, she can often be found in the ballroom dance studio or dancing in a ballroom competition. This is her first entry into an amateur piano competition.

Preliminary Round 
Rachmaninoff- Morceau de fantaisie, Op. 3, No. 1, “Elégie”
Debussy - Jardin sous la pluie, from Estampes
Poulenc – Toccata, from Trois Pièces

Final Round
Liszt - Étude de Concert No. 3 in D-flat Major, “Un Sospiro”
Ginastera - Danzas Argentinas, Op. 2 

Deirbhile Brennan

Deirbhile Brennan began her piano studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and later studied with DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, winning many prizes and awards in Ireland and the UK. Deirbhile holds a degree in music from Trinity College Dublin,after which she took a lengthy break from the piano that included forging a busy career as a chartered accountant. She currently works as a senior operations manager and is the mother of four children. Deirbhile returned to the piano in 2009 studying with Dr. Hugh Tinney at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Following recitals in Dublin and Paris, Deirbhile was awarded first prize in the 2014 Chicago International Amateur Piano Competition and was invited later that year by New York Concerti Sinfonietta to perform at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and two other New York venues. In 2016 Deirbhile was a finalist in the WIPAC Competition, as well as a semi-finalist in receipt of a special jury award at the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition. 

Preliminary Round
Rameau - Gavotte et Six Doubles, from Suite in A Minor
Liszt - Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este, from Années de pèlerinage, Troisiéme Année

Semi Final Round
Soler - Sonata in F-sharp Major, R. 90
Janacek - Sonata 1.X.1905, "From the Street"

Final Round
Schubert - 12 Waltzes, Op. 18, D. 145
Ravel - Ondine
Liszt – Vallée d’Obermann, from Années de pèlerinage, Premiére Année

Mark Cannon
New York

Mark Cannon is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York. Born in West Germany, he grew up in New York and studied piano as a child with "that little old lady around the corner," who, it turned out, had been a performer of some note in Russia. His principal studies thereafter have been with Malcolm Bilson and Seymour Bernstein. He has given many solo recitals and performed Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with the Doctors' Orchestral Society. He has been a big fan of BIPC since its inception and has attended all the competitions as either a contestant or audience member.

Preliminary Round
Chopin - Polonaise in G-flat Major, Op. Posth. 
J.S. Bach - Toccata in C major, from Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue, BWV 564

Semi Final Round
Scriabin - Sonata No. 10, Op. 70

Final Round
Chopin - Polonaise in F-sharp Minor, Op. 44 
Schubert - Sonata in A Major, D. 664
                1. Allegro moderato 
                2. Andante
                3. Allegro

Andrew Celentano

Andrew Celentano studied electrical engineering at MIT and then worked at IBM for 13 years in various sales, marketing and management positions. He founded and ran an interactive agency for 12 years, consulted for a number of years after that, and now works as a Senior Innovation Consultant for Sagentia. He is also working on a cell phone application that will “change the world”. Andrew studied violin and performed at Carnegie Hall with the MIT Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Brian Epstein. He was self- taught on the piano starting at age 13, and started taking serious classical lessons about 15 years ago. Andrew plays occasionally at the BSO Café at Symphony Hall and also composes his own material, some of which is featured on his CD “Wanderer in Dreamland” , which he created on behalf of the Thoreau Society for fundraising purposes. Andrew & Hilary have three grown children, and are now the proud grandparents of two boys and a girl. He is also a board member of The Thoreau Society.

Preliminary Round
Liszt - Consolation No. 3
Gluck/Sgambati - Theme from Orpheus
Ravel - Pavane pour une infante défunte

Final Round
Chopin - Nocturne in B-flat Minor, Op. 9, No. 1 
Debussy - Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum, from Children’s Corner 
Celentano - Parnassus Gardens 
Debussy - Reflets dans l'eau, from Images, Bk 1

Jeanne Backofen Craig

Jeanne Backofen Craig competed in the 2016 Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, where she advanced to the semi-final round. She was awarded 2nd prize at WIPAC in Washington, D.C., as well as the audience and press jury awards. Since 2016, she has performed in recital at the Kosciusko Foundation in Washington, D.C., Sweet Briar College, and the Gasteig in Munich, Germany. Jeanne is a graduate of Virginia Tech and Marymount University, and serves as the Director of Music & Liturgy at her church. She is married to Eddie and is the proud mother of Billy, Andy, and Carrie.

Preliminary Round
J.S. Bach - Prelude & Fugue in C Major, WTC Bk II
Haydn - Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI:52 (Allegro)

Semi Final Round
J.S. Bach - Prelude & Fugue in G-sharp Minor, WTC Bk I
Chopin - Nocturne in B-flat Minor, Op. 9, No. 1
Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No. 11

Final Round
Mozart - Sonata in F Major, K. 332  
                3.Allegro assai 
Liszt – Vallée d’Obermann, from Années de pèlerinage, Premiére Année

Judy Darst

Judy Darst is a retired Piano Teacher with a degree in Piano Performance (BMA) from the U. of Colorado. She has adjudicated as a member of MTNA and National Guild of Piano Teachers and has performed with the Bainbridge Island Orchestra and the Greeley Philharmonic. She was a performing member of Ladies Musical Club in Seattle before moving to Oregon, where she has started a performance group. Judy has appeared in numerous amateur competitions in Washington DC, Chicago, San Diego, Colorado Springs, and here in Boston.

Preliminary Round
Brahms – Waltzes, Op. 39, Nos. 2, 4, 8, 15
Schubert - Moment Musical No. 3 in F Minor, D. 780
Chopin – Prelude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 45

Final Round
Mozart – Sonata in C Major, K. 330, 1st m.
Chopin – Mazurka Op. 67, No. 3
Scharwenka – Nocturne, Op. 86
Jaromir Weinberger - Schwanda the Bagpiper: Polka

Gerard de Botton

Gerard de Botton was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and started practicing piano at age 13, but decided to become an orthopedic surgeon. His teachers included Marian Rybicki, with whom he studied for 12 years in private and at the École Normale de Musique de Paris. Gerard’s piano studies were done in parallel with a heavy career of Orthopedic Surgeon in Chartres and Paris, mostly specializing in hip and knee surgery and surgery of the spine. In recent years he has given many recitals for humanitarian purposes (Research on Cancer, Amnesty International) and charity organizations, and lately for the International Day of Trisomy 21. Together with JS Bach, Gerard feels very attracted to 19th century music, especially Chopin, but also Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann and Schubert. He has performed with orchestra on five occasions and in several amateur competitions, including as a finalist at WIPAC, first prize in the Italian competition "Piano lovers over 40" and in the Chopin Amateur competition in Warsaw.

Preliminary Round
Bach-Busoni - Choral-Prelude "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" BWV 61
Chopin – Polonaise in C Minor, Op 40, No. 2
Chopin - Étude #12 in C minor Op. 25

Semi Final Round
Schubert - Sonata in B-flat Major, D.960, 1st m.

Final Round
Beethoven - Sonata in C Major, Op. 53, "Waldstein"
                1. Allegro con brio
                2. Introduzione. Adagio molto
                3. Rondo. Allegretto moderato – Prestissimo

Simon Finlow
District of Columbia

Simon Finlow was born and raised in England. He graduated with a BA/MA from Oxford University and subsequently earned a PhD in music from King’s College, Cambridge. In 1985, Dr. Finlow immigrated to the US. He obtained an MS in computer science, became a US citizen, and worked as an IT professional for the next 25 years. Simon returned to his music roots after retiring from IT work in 2014. He is currently rebuilding his piano repertoire, has started performing again, and is working with his teacher, Michael Adcock, on becoming the best pianist he can be. He also competed last year in the WIPAC and Van Cliburn amateur competitions.

Preliminary Round
Schumann – Novellette in F Major, Op. 21, No. 1
Scarlatti - Sonata in E Major, K. 380, L. 23 
Balakirev - Mazurka No. 6 in A-flat Major

Semi Final Round
Chopin - Fantasie in F Minor, Op. 49

Final Round
Beethoven - Sonata in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3 
                2.Largo e mesto 
                3.Menuetto: Allegro 
                4.Rondo: Allegro
Debussy - L'Isle joyeuse

Jaime Frias

Jaime Frias is a business attorney in Florida. He received a music degree at the University of Florida, where he won their student concerto competition. Last year he was the bronze medalist in the 2-round track of the Chicago amateur competition.

Preliminary Round
Scarlatti - Sonata in E Major, K. 380
J.S. Bach - Prelude in A Minor, from English Suite No. 2, BWV 807
Chopin – Fantasie-Impromptu in C sharp Minor, Op. 66 

Semi Final Round
Mozart - Sonata in C Major, K. 330, 1st and 2nd m.
Chopin - Nocturne in B-flat Minor, Op. 9, No. 1

Final Round
J.S. Bach - Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, BWV 825: Prelude, Menuets & Gigue 
Beethoven - Sonata in E Minor, Op. 90, 1st m.
Glass - Metamorphosis No. 2
Joplin – Magnetic Rag

Edward Fritz

Edward Fritz began his piano studies at age 7 with Harold Swingle until his graduation from Hawken School, and with Daniel Winter at the College of Wooster. He completed his dental degree in 1978 at Case-Western Reserve University. He then moved to Arizona and practiced as a dentist in the U.S. Air Force for 3 years before beginning his private practice in 1981. After years of sporadic time at the piano keyboard, he happened upon the documentary film, "They Came to Play," in 2013, which inspired him to resume practicing seriously with the goal of playing in an amateur piano competition. When not practicing the piano or dentistry, Dr. Fritz loves movies, theater, reading, Asian foods, and most of all spending time with his son Mason.

Preliminary Round
Schubert - Impromptu in A-flat Major, Op. 90 No. 4, D. 899
Scriabin - Impromptu in B-flat Minor, Op. 12, No. 2
Sinding - Serenade

Semi Final Round
Schubert: Diabelli Waltz
Brahms: Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 6
Liszt - Cantique d'Amour, from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses