The Best Piano Competitions for Young Pianists in 2015

piano competition

Are you considering entering your budding pianist into a piano competition? There are an array of competitions to choose from across the U.S., many offering the opportunity to compete against top performers from around the globe.

All-Ages Piano Competitions Across the U.S.:

Seattle International Piano Festival & Competition – Seattle, WA

Competing in May (preliminary) and October 2015 (finals) at the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, pianists from all over the world are encouraged to freely select piano repertoire for this bi-annual competition. Numerous cash and non-cash awards will be distributed. Updated information for the 2015 competition is expected to be posted in January, so keep this page bookmarked!

The American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition – New York, NY

In May 2015, students are invited to participate in this competition at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Prizes include scholarships, cash, and special awards. Past winners have been featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show. But hurry — mail or online applications and DVD/CD recordings are due no later than January 27, 2015.

Alexander & Buono International Piano Competition – New York, NY

On Sunday, May 17, 2015, winner’s recitals will take place in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie following this annual competition. Application deadline is April 13, 2015.

Piano Competitions for the Younger Crowd:

Cleveland International Piano Competition – Cleveland, OH

May 12-21, 2015, pianists ages 12-18 will compete at Baldwin Wallace University and the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium. Room and board is provided for contestants and cash prizes will be awarded at the end of the competition. The application deadline is December 1st, however late applications will be accepted through the 14th with an additional fee.

Dallas International Piano Competition – Dallas, TX

Pianists born after March 14th, 1980, are invited to this competition hosted by the Dallas Chamber Symphony in partnership with the SMU Meadows School of the Arts. Prizes include cash and a subscription concert engagement with the Dallas Chamber Symphony for the first-prize recipient. Online applications are due December 15th, and the competition takes place March 11-14, 2015,

The First Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition – Fort Worth, TX

Pianists ages 13 to 17 can participate in this new competition on the campus of TCU, which has held adult competitions since 1962. (The Fifteenth Annual Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for ages 19-30 is scheduled for May 25-June 10, 2017.) The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will perform with each of the three finalists. Competition performances will be webcast live June 21-28, 2015. Online applications and submissions of recital videos are due January 9, 2015, so don’t delay!

Kaufman Music Center International Youth Piano Competition – New York, NY

Competing June 2015, pianists ages 7-17 worldwide are invited to compete for cash and prizes, in addition to the opportunity to perform at New York’s prestigious Merkin Concert Hall. Printed applications and auditions via YouTube link are due by March 1, 2015.

Wisconsin Youth Piano Competition – Milwaukee, WI

June 12-15, 2015, The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and PianoArts invites pianists ages 10-16 to compete opposite the PianoArts North American Competition for pianists ages 16-20. Cash, the opportunity to perform with the MSO and its musicians, as well as an array of learning experiences are offered as prizes. Application and CD submission deadline is April 20, 2015.

2015 International Young Artist Piano Concerto Competition – Chicago, IL

June 12-14, 2015, pianists under 20 will compete for cash, classes, and performance opportunities with The New Millennium Orchestra on Chicago’s finest stage, Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center. Application deadline is April 1, 2015.

Need More Time? Plan Ahead for These 2016 Piano Competitions:

United States Open Music Competition – Oakland, CA

The application deadline has passed for this competition, in which local, national, and international pianists of all ages can compete for scholarships, cash, and prizes at the Mormon Inter-Stake Temple in Oakland, California. However, you can plan ahead using this year’s guidelines, and keep the page bookmarked for updated information.

Virginia Waring International Piano Competition – San Bernardino, CA

This competition hosts pianists ages 12-18 at California State University’s Palm Desert Campus. Host-family lodging and local transportation are provided. Thousands of dollars in scholarships and performance prizes will be awarded. Though the application deadline for this year’s competition passed in October, those wishing to participate in the 2016 competition are encouraged to review this year’s application requirements.

The 7th Bosendorfer and Yamaha U.S. ASU International Piano Competition – Phoenix, AZ

Pianists ages 13 and up are invited to compete for cash prizes and a number of concerto performances with The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra in this event. Though the application has passed for the 2015 event, it’s never too early to start thinking about your YouTube audition and application for the 2016 piano competition!

Hilton Head International Piano Competition – Hilton Head, SC

Pianists ages 13-17 can take part in this three-round competition awarding scholarships and cash prizes. Deadline for the 2015 competition has passed, so start prepping for the 2016 competition now.

Tips for Piano Competitions

No matter what event you’re entering, remember that rules are rules, so it’s important to pay strict attention to them when applying for your piano competition! Be mindful of application deadlines and what’s required, such as a preliminary CD or video. Other common items required include proof of age (birth certificate or passport), an application fee, photo, biographical material, letter of recommendation from your piano teacher, and parent permission forms. The first time may feel a little overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask your piano teacher or parent to help you through the process – that’s what they are there for!

Ready to apply for what could be the performance of a lifetime? Don’t be afraid to come out of your shell – the world is waiting!

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Photo by MIKI Yoshihito

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5 replies
  1. Zoe
    Zoe says:

    American Protege is one of the biggest scams out there. You’re paying $150 for someone to halfheartedly glance at your DVD submission and then deem you a “winner” – where you’re allowed to play for 5-7 minutes on stage for $330. (For an extra minute you pay $100.) And on top of that – I don’t think a 5-7 minute performance really qualifies as a debut. It may look impressive to the non-musicians of the world, but if you put that your “Carnegie debut” was playing in one of these marathon recitals, there are many, MANY people rolling their eyes at how much money you just got scammed out of. Oh, and you have to pay for your own plane ticket to and from New York City.


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