In the heart of Salt Lake City, housed in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center is one of the premiere piano competition and performance organizations of the world. Started in 1976 as Brigham Young University’s Summer Piano Festival and international piano competition, the event became the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation (GBIP) after it experienced growth and success under the patronage of the Utah Symphony. As an independent organization, it is now known worldwide for its dedication to “further the pianistic art, foster excellence in performance and teaching, develop opportunities for pianists beyond the scope of the organization and offer leadership in developing a musically-educated citizenry.” In other words, the GBIP is more than just a piano competition, it is a means of education, outreach, and opportunity.
The major GBIP event held at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in 2002 was its International Artists Piano competition, with nearly forty musicians competing for two weeks. Since that time, foundation chairman Kary Billings notes, the GBIP has, “held International Piano Festivals, season-long concert series, and educational programs. Two piano competitions for youth are also now included in the Bachauer’s four-year cycle.” The Rose provides unparalleled accommodation for such an organization, with space enough for concerts, judging rooms, practice rooms, display and reception areas, and an “exceptionally skilled technical staff.” With all their needs met for their international competition events, the GBIP has the opportunity to turn its attention to its other programs, including youth and amateur competitions, and their “Music in Our Schools” program which has introduced more than 350,000 students—many of them from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds—to classical piano music played by a Bachauer concert artist on a grand piano in their own schools.
The “Music in Our Schools” program is just one way that the GBIP gives back to the Salt Lake community in recognition for the tremendous support piano lovers across the state give GBIP. Hundreds of volunteers make events like the international piano competition possible. Billings is quick to recognize those volunteers, especially the ones that open their homes to host international competitors. He explains, “Each competition year, host families “adopt” a pianist for weeks at a time and provide housing, meals, a practice grand piano, and love and encouragement during the grueling rounds of the competition. The Salt Lake and Utah communities enjoy a breadth of international exposure to Utah and opportunities for its citizens to interact and benefit from musicians from interesting and diverse backgrounds.” Moreover, the Salt Lake community has an immense opportunity to listen to some of the finest piano concerts in the world. In addition to attendance at the international competition, the GBIP hosts events in various venues in the Salt Lake area.
To get a sense of the profound talent the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation fosters, attend the Rose Exposed variety show on Friday, August 30th where 12 year old Allison To, and American finalist of the 2012 Gina Bachauer Junior International Piano Competition will perform Litszt’s “Faust” waltz, or, alternatively, join them Saturday, August 31st at their partnered performance with Plan B Theatre of Peter and the Wolf, a theatre for young audiences event featuring Mozart’s “Sonata in C Major” and Aaron Copland’s “Hoe-Down” from his ballet Rodeo.