The waiting room of the Jacobs School of Music’s Ford-Crawford Hall was filled with hushed tones and small clusters of young pianists being congratulated by their families.
Marc Levesque plays his piece for judges during the Jacobs School of Music Auer Summer Concerto Competition in Ford-Crawford Hall. Eleven pianists competed for a chance to play alongside the IU Student Summer Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Fagen. IU junior Xiting Yang and 16-year-old Ansen Hui both won.
The large room contained emerald green carpet and a tall ceiling decorated by a single crystal chandelier, but the conversation centered on a single thought — the winner of the 2014 Edward Auer Summer Concerto Competition.
Eleven pianists participated in the final round.
The first round started at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and the final round took place at 5:30 p.m.
By 7:10 p.m., the decision was made. The participants and their families re-entered Ford-Crawford Hall for the results.
“Is everybody here?” workshop and concerto competition director Edward Auer asked. “We have our winners. We don’t have first, second or third place, but instead we have two winners. They are Xiting Yang and Ansen Hui.”
The crowd broke out into applause and congratulated the competition’s winners.
Joy Xu, an assistant with the Edward Auer Summer Workshop, spoke of the diversity, experience and talent each of the performers had.
“I think it went very well,” Xu said about the final round performance. “The participants come from all over the world. Some are from Canada, Ecuador and Korea.”
The Edward Auer Summer Workshop is an annual summer program for the Jacobs School.
The competition included an audition process, in which 30 applicants sent in a 15-minute recording of any repertoire, piano workshops and a final competition.
“Our workshop started about 15 years ago, and it started as a Chopin class,” workshop coordinator Junghwa Moon Auer said.
“It started off very small. In 2007, we offered special topics — Beethoven sonatas or Chopin nocturnes. This year, our highlight is concerto competitions.”
Auer said the workshop and competition is a project dear to her heart, but it requires expenses in order to hire the student summer orchestra for the event.
“It’s worth it,” Auer said. “A lot of young pianists don’t have many chances to play with an orchestra.”
The winner will play at 8 p.m. tonight in Auer Hall with the IU Student Summer Orchestra under the direction of conductor Arthur Fagen.
However, the prize isn’t at the heart of this competition — practice and dedication is, Auer said.
“We don’t believe in competitions, but once we have a competition and a winner’s recital, the participants play better,” Auer said.
“This lets them find their best and to work their best. I want the participants to have some motivation in coming here. Instead of just coming here to mingle, I want them to have a goal.”
The participants’ talent impressed Nicholas Roth, a professor of piano at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and one of the judges of the competition, he said.
Roth was also one of Edward Auer’s previous students.
He described the performances as high level and beautifully played.
Junghwa Moon Auer said she is connected to both winners as a teacher, artist and someone who appreciates their talent.
Ansen Hui, 16, studied privately with Edward Auer for the past four years and played with the Indianapolis Symphony the previous summer.
“His music is not only beautiful, but his life story is triumphant and inspiring,” Jungwha Moon Auer said. “When we visited Ansel’s home once, Edward’s CDs were all over his practice room.
“We were, of course, very pleased, but it means that when he loves something, he loves until the end. He doesn’t love it for better usage or for him, that’s it. He just loves it. He’s got that pure passion.”
Auer said the Edward Auer Concerto Workshop and Competition aims to show the students that beauty is the most important thing.
“Our motto is all about letting students have chances,” Auer said. “We try to let them know, though we can’t always, that beauty is our goal.
“In competitions, hard work is necessary, but perfection is not our goal. When your try to make things perfect, you immediately get fearful because you don’t want to make a mistake. But you have to get past that and be free.”
Auer’s relationship with the 20-year-old IU junior Xiting Yang is one of mentorship and encouragement.
“You can’t try to make things perfect on stage. You have to be out of it,” Auer said to Yang before the night of the performance.
She drew from her husband’s advice and asked Yang to take the passion from the piece she played so the raw emotion could reach the audience.
“I told Xiting, ‘I really want you to be Mozart,’” Auer said. “‘Be there for us. It’s too late for you to be perfect. The only thing we can hear is how much you love and how much you feel.’”
Each year, new performers share their gifts of talent and artistry with Auer and her husband.
Auer gave parting advice to the applicants and encouraged those who will compete next year.
“The stage is a fearful place. Every second seems eternal,” Auer said. “All performers can do is find beauty, find what we care for in our hearts and find life there.
“It is a very awkward thing to feel in front of people, but because they practice so much, they allow themselves to become vulnerable. I think the contestants who won were very successful in that way.”
© Indiana Daily Student 2014