A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
March 9, 2006 Volume 36 / Number 6


Pianist Milbauer Competes in Paris

In his first competition since 1997, John Milbauer reached the semifinal round of the Seventh Orleans Concours International (O.C.I.), the most prestigious competition in the world for the performance of 20th- and 21st-century piano music, and one of the best-regarded of all music competitions. The journal Diapason credits the biennial O.C.I. for bringing to light “the most original pianists of the young generation ... more than a piano competition, it is first a festival of music, and above all a detector of real personality, and not just of specialists of contemporary music” (February 2006).

Applicants are drawn to the O.C.I. not only by its reputation and its provocative programming requirements, but also by its bourse (prize), which, at 65,000 euros, is one of the most generous in the world. From an initial pool of 70 applicants between the ages of 17 and 40, 39 candidates from 15 countries were admitted to the first elimination in Orleans, France, where each played a 40-minute public recital.

Milbauer was among the 10 pianists selected by the jury to advance to the semifinal, where each performed a one-hour recital of additional repertoire. All recitals, given without pause and performed primarily from memory, displayed a balance between music written from 1900 to 1960 and that written since 1960. In his two recitals, Milbauer included the music of Debussy, Ravel, Schoenberg, Bartok, Poulenc, Cowell, Maurice Ohana, George Crumb, Mario Davidovsky, Andre Boucourechliev, William Albright, Peter Lieberson, and David Colson. Aside from Milbauer, the other semifinalists came from London, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo, St. Petersburg, and New York.

Four finalists were selected, and the first prize was awarded to Wilhem Latchoumia of France. Though not a finalist, Milbauer was invited by a member of the jury to give a recital in London next year. Milbauer will continue his sabbatical with a five-week residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada.