Three Finalists Face Off this Saturday for $10,000 in Midwest International Piano Competition

Jun 6, 2014

While sixteen of the greatest young senior division pianists from around the world begin to pack their bags, Elina Akselrud, Tomer Gewirtzman, and Margaryta Golovko are preparing for the final round of the senior division of the Midwest International Piano Competition, and the chance to win $10,000. Iowa Public Radio speaks with Midwest International Piano Competition founders Dmitri Vorobiev and Sean Botkin. Hear the two University of Northern Iowa Piano Professors describe the origins of this inaugural event as they give us a peek behind the scenes.

Midwest International Piano Competition founders stand with the three finalists of the senior division. (Back row, L to R: Tomer Gewirtzman, Israel; Dmitri Vorobiev, founder; Sean Botkin, founder; Margaryta Golovko, Ukraine. Front row: Elina Akselrud, Ukraine)

The week-long event, which kicked off last Sunday, features students from eleven different countries competing in two different age categories. It culminates at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 7 with the final round of the senior division. Iowa Public Radio’s Jacqueline Halbloom and Al Schares will be there to broadcast the event live and present each finalist’s one-hour solo recital, plus encore, from the stage of the Great Hall at UNI’s Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls. The event will also be live streamed online at The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize, as well as a CD recording with the Blue Griffin label, a concerto performance with the wcfsymphony on November 1, 2014, and an optional 2-year professional management contract with Heartland Concert Artists.

Elina Akselrud, 24, is a Ukrainian pianist and recent graduate of the New England Conservatory in Boston, with a Master of Music Degree under the tutelage of Professor Alexander Korsantia. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree with honors from Mannes College, The New School for Music, where she studied with Professor Irina Morozova. She will be continuing her training in October of this year in Scuola di Musica di Fiescole in Italy with Professor Eliso Virsaladze. For the final round of the competition she will play Prokofiev’s Sarcasms, Op. 17, Schumann’s Kreisleriana, Op. 16, and Chopin’s Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat Major, Op. 29.

Tomer Gewirtzman, 24, is an Israeli pianist beginning his Master of Music degree at Juilliard this fall as the recipient of the Kovner Fellowship with Maestro Sergei Babayan. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in honors under the guidance of Professor Arie Vardi at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel-Aviv. His program for the finals includes Postlude by Bardanashvili, Etudes d’exécution transcendante, S.139 Nos. 1-5 and 8-10 by Liszt, and Clair de Lune from Suite Bergamasque by Debussy.

Margaryta Golovko is a 27-year old pianist from Ukraine. She earned her master diploma at the National Music Academy of Ukraine under Professor Boris Fedorov, who she continued working with as an assistant trainee from 2009 until 2012. She currently studies with Professor Piero Rattalino at the International Piano Academy ‘Incontri col Maestri’ in Imola (Italy). For the finals, she will play Haydn’s Sonata in F Major, Hob. XVI:29, Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Chopin, Op. 22, and Debussy’s Clair de Lune from Suite Bergamasque.

The finals concert for the junior category begins at 2 p.m. Friday, June 6 at $10 a ticket. The finals concert and receptions for the senior category begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 7 at $25 a ticket. Tickets are available by calling 319-273-4TIX or at