We are pleased to announce the upcoming 12th edition of the Friends of the Piano national piano competition in June. Taking place on Saturday, June 8, the event will be held in the ceremonial hall of the George Enescu National College of Music in Bucharest. Registration is available online, by May 24th, through the completion of the registration form. Details about the competition can be found in the Friends of the Piano Regulations.

For more details about what this competition means, its history, and what it means for participants,delve into the interview below with Dana Papadima – Educational Director at Avenor, who hosts this eagerly anticipated event every year.

Although we are in the 12th edition, the first Friends of the Piano competition, catering to children dedicated to mastering this esteemed instrument, occurred 14 years ago. Unfortunately, the pandemic deprived us of two editions, yet during this time, students never ceased to hone their piano skills.

The impetus behind organising such a competition stemmed from a group of passionate teachers, whom I must confess, I openly supported. Having spent a decade playing the piano under the guidance of some “old-school” teachers, I can attest that amidst the countless solfeggios and hours of music theory, the most significant reward was my deepened appreciation for classical music and my understanding of the intricate dynamics within concerts, sonatas, sonatinas, and the like. For this, I owe immense gratitude to my mother, whose encouragement led me to the piano and opened up a rich and profound world, stirring my senses to ecstasy.

The Friends of the Piano competition, open to students from private, public, and international schools, aims to connect students who may not study piano professionally at music schools with the world of keys, sheet music, and ultimately, with the broader world of music. The realm of black and white keys isn’t solely associated with the past, classical, or outdated; it harmonises just as well with the sounds of pop, jazz, or other contemporary interests such as school, video games, and social media. These aren’t incompatible entities; rather, they add depth and meaning to our lives.

Such a competition is tailored to the ethos of its organisers, Avenor College. Children are encouraged, cheered, and praised. Year after year, they learn to step into the shoes of performers, to harness their (often overwhelming) emotions, to respect both their own musical expression and that of their competitors. Every aspect is significant and dynamic: from stage attire to audience respect, from becoming acquainted with concert pianos, distinct from electronic keyboards or home upright pianos. We learn to manage our emotions, to communicate expressively through music, to heed the serious advice of the jury, to graciously embrace any awards, and to elegantly accept any setbacks.

We have approached this competition quite differently compared to most others in the field, where all children receive prizes and certificates, leading truly hardworking and talented competitors to blend into a sea of sameness. Despite genuinely and warmly encouraging all participating students, the jury ultimately makes professional and unbiased decisions on which performers truly deserve to stand on the podium among the dozens of participants. It’s a lesson in music, in courage, in an area where ethics and moral values take precedence.

For me, our Friends of the Piano competition has a 14-year history. At 14 years old, a teenager receives an identity card, signalling their entry into the realm of maturity and growth. This year’s Friends of the Piano, organised by Avenor College, is like a teenager with a genuine identity card.