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Keys to the Future

May 05, 2000|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For classical music venues in the San Fernando Valley, one of the best-kept secrets is the Brand Library in Glendale, where chamber music filters into the nicely outfitted recital hall several Sundays a year.

Although other concerts feature established musicians, this Sunday's fare bows to the up-and-coming. The four winners of the recent Glendale Piano Competition will perform in a free recital at the library. About 30 young pianists from throughout the state competed for the $1,500 grand prize and recognition for a job well-done.

The competition began in 1983 sponsored by the McGaughey Foundation, founded by Miriam McGaughey in honor of her late husband, Elvin.

"They were both top piano teachers in the area," said foundation President Joe Fuchs, who has overseen the competition for 15 years.

The event was much more modest in the first few years, Fuchs said, but Miriam McGaughey left her estate to the foundation when she died in 1991.

"It's reasonably modest, but enough for us to give this kind of community service," Fuchs said.

The foundation also addresses local music concerns in education, scholarships and tools of the art. Last October, it donated a new Steinway grand piano to the Brand Library, a gift to be dedicated by city officials at Sunday's recital.

Contestants, who are primarily from Southern California, are required to play repertory from different periods of music, Fuchs said. "The playing is just phenomenal."

The 2000 winners are Tiffany Hsieh, grand prize; Brandon Stewart, senior award; Christopher Jordan, junior award; and Eva Xia, sophomore prize.

As word of the competition has spread, the list of applicants has grown, said board member Sharon Townsend.

'We've had kids as far north as San Francisco and as far south as San Diego," Townsend said. "Chris Jordan, who won the junior prize, lives in Temecula. It draws some of the top pianists in California."

The students are asked to perform pieces from three contrasting musical periods in the categories of baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary.

Townsend said many of the young musicians have gone on to Juilliard, Eastman and the University of Southern California. But not all competitors aspire to music careers, Fuchs said.

"Our grand prize winner last year was intending a career as a physicist," he said. "He played like an angel, but he's mainly interested in math and sciences. I don't know how to hazard a guess, but maybe 50% of them go into music."

For the moment, we get a chance to hear fine music made by young hands.

BE THERE

Piano recital by winners of the Glendale Piano Competition, Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Brand Library Recital Hall, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale. Free admission. (818) 548-2051.

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