Article by The Straits Times: Performing arts competition go online - Steinway Gallery Singapore

Steinway Gallery Singapore was featured on The Straits Times on 9 June 2020, Aditi Bharade the journalist of The Straits Times write about Steinway Youth Piano Competition 2020 : Playing from Home Edition.

(Above) Secondary 1 student Goh Kai Cheng livestreamed from home his performance for the annual Steinway Youth Piano Competition conducted online last month. He won the first prize for competitors aged 12 to 14. He is also the Grand Prize Winner of the 5th Steinway Youth Piano Competition.

Straits Times Article:

Some performing arts competitions have gone online as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The annual Steinway Youth Piano Competition, for instance, was conducted online last month.

The competitors’ performances were recorded from their homes and livestreamed on the website of piano company Steinway & Sons. Competitors took the chance to dress up in their performance attire, from sparkling gowns to suits, and confidently pulled off their rehearsed pieces.

Among them was Goh Kai Cheng, a Secondary 1 student at Dunman High School, who says an advantage was that he did not have to adjust to the touch of a new piano and could perform on the one he was comfortable with at home.

But there was a different type of stress.

“Even though there is no actual audience watching live during the performance, I was constantly worrying about technical issues such as the connectivity of Wi-Fi. Thank goodness my parents were there to help me out,” says Kai Cheng, who turns 13 later this year. He went on to clinch the first prize for competitors between the ages of 12 and 14.

Ms Celine Goh, 47, who chairs the Steinway Youth Piano Competition organising committee, says Steinway ensured that the participants were on equal footing, by conducting sound checks and taking into account the position of the cameras to ensure optimum sound quality for the audience and judges.

She notes that the experience may be disappointing to some. “This edition is an unprecedented one and a completely different experience from performing in a beautiful concert hall,” she says.

The annual Singapore Violin Festival, which usually consists of masterclasses, performances and a competition, was slated for next month, but had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.

But organisers decided to convert the competition to an online event instead.

Contestants record their pieces and send in their best attempt for consideration.

This means less pressure on the competitors, notes Mr Tong Ming Xi, 42, founder of violin shop Tong Ming Xi and managing director of the festival.

He adds that conducting the competition online is also advantageous in that violinists from all corners of the world can participate.

“We have submissions from Ukraine, Russia and more, whom we would not have seen if this was a physical event.”

However, he says this might be disadvantageous to the competitors who are less tech-savvy, as the poorer quality video and audio can negatively impact how the judges perceive the performance.

He says organisers, to date, have received more than 100 submissions, but are optimistic this will increase to around 500 as the June 30 deadline approaches.

Other performing arts competitions, such as the International Ballet Grand Prix Singapore (IBGPS) 2020, also have to adapt.

It is currently accepting video recordings of auditions from dancers aged seven to 18.

The competition usually includes a technique class, where competitors interact and network with fellow dance students, and learn from an international teacher. While it is typically conducted in a dance studio, this year, it will be delivered online via Zoom.

Ms Lisa Latip, IBGPS’ organiser and chairman of Singapore Dance Alliance Limited, says: “Judges will have to spend more time in their discussions and meetings, dealing with the different time zones they are in, as compared with a physical competition where they can all gather.”

However, seeing overseas competitors signing up for both the ballet and contemporary segments is very heartening, she adds. “It shows there is still confidence that an online competition will also provide a good platform for their development.”