No it’s not that kind of gold medal, although those who participate in it look on it as a kind of Olympic event.
Now in its 25th year, the Musical Arts Society of New Orleans has grown from modest beginnings to an organization that presents an important internationally recognized piano competition. Attracting applications from 152 pianists from 26 countries around the world this year, MASNO winnowed that number down to 12 semifinalists. Four are from the United States, with the remainder representing Austria, China, Spain, Taiwan, South Korea and Italy. Semifinals will take place at Loyola University’s Roussel Hall at 7 p.m. from July 21 to July 25, with the always exciting final round on July 27 at 2 p.m..
“People know our competition by reputation now,” explains Cara McCool, MASNO Executive Assistant and, herself, a classical pianist and teacher. Winners of the New Orleans-based competition have gone on to successful careers and more prizes and recognition in other prestigious competitions around the world.
“A competition like ours is important because it really is a stepping stone to building a career,” Cara continues. It also brings with it some other nice perks: a first prize of $15,000; second of $10,000; and third of $5,000; and nine semifinalist prizes of $600. Perhaps most importantly, the three finalists get to return to New Orleans in 2015 to perform with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. The gold medalist will also play with the Baton Rouge Symphony and Lafayette’s Acadiana Symphony and will perform solo in London’s famous Wigmore Hall.
While most other similar musical events winnow out competitors by first dropping to half the original number of players and then to half again, MASNO’s approach is quite different.
“In ours, all competitors play twice,” Cara explains. So there are plenty of opportunities for the public to hear all 12 artists.
Dr. Emel Songu Mize is in the last year of her role as MASNO’s President. It has been a rewarding journey for the Turkish-born lover of classical piano who has been involved with the MASNO for a number of years.
“I really, really believe in this organization,” she says. “I think at the beginning, nobody really knew what MASNO was. Now I think we are at a point where people really recognize what we are doing.”
For information about dates, schedules and times of all MASNO semifinal and final rounds, as well as other information about the competition, go to www.masno.org.