This year, Calvin Abdiel has had an outstanding success in the 2021 Sydney Online International Piano Competition (the Sydney). As the youngest competitor in the 2021 edition, he won the George Frederic Boyle 3rd Prize ($15,000) and the Nancy Weir Best Australian Pianist Award, as well as a $10,000 scholarship to further his musical studies and career overseas. In total, he walked away with prize money of $35,000.
The Sydney is one of the most prestigious international piano competitions in the world and has been a member of the WFIMC since 1978. Due to the travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 edition was held online, requiring each participant to record three different recitals across three rounds totalling around 3 hours. There were also additional requirements to simulate the real expectations in concert recitals, such as the requirement for an underlying theme in the 2nd round recital, a verbal introduction to each set of works in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and encores in the 1st and 3rd rounds.
For these achievements, Calvin attributed his success to his teacher Natalia Ricci, who played a major role in helping him prepare a large solo repertoire required in the competition. He mentioned that they spent countless hours of planning and discussion together to construct a program that showed a wide range of styles and highlighted his musical strengths throughout the competition. He also expressed gratitude to the Theme and Variations Foundation for their continual support, especially in providing him the opportunity to perform at the Canberra International Music Festival earlier this year in May.
As part of the prizes from the Sydney, Calvin will be undertaking concert engagements in Sydney, Melbourne and other cities in Australia next year. He will also participate in a summer course in France, as part of the scholarship from the Institut Francais d’Indonesie (IFI) that he received in his 1st Prize win in the 2020 Ananda Sukarlan International Piano Competition. Finally, he plans to undertake Honours in his performance undergraduate studies next year, in his final year at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
To watch Calvin perform Scriabin’s Sonata No 5 Op 53, see below: