Amateur Pianists International 2016 Competition Announced

The countdown has begun for the 2016 Amateur Pianists International (API) competition. The biennial event serves as a platform for outstanding pianists from around the world, and a transformative experience for classical music lovers. Scheduled for March 15 – 19, 2016 at Colorado College, 32 contestants will be invited to participate. Applications are being accepted now through November 15, 2015. Click here to apply.

The attractive winning purses are: First Place – cash prize of $3,000, Second Place – cash prize of $2,000, Third Place – cash prize of $1,000, Fourth Place – cash prize of $750 and Fifth Place – cash prize of $500. Certificates will be awarded for the best performances of Baroque, Romantic, Classical, and Modern time periods.

Fundraising efforts are underway to raise $30,750 required for competitor purses, judges, venue, piano tuning, marketing and events. Gifts are welcomed at csconservatory.org. Please join us in continuing this rich tradition.

Who is an “amateur pianist?”
The competition is designed for excellent pianists who have careers outside of music. To dispel any misconceptions associated of the word “amateur,” our competitors are accomplished musicians whose primary occupation is something other than teaching or playing classical piano.

Gerard Beckerman founder of the Concours des Grand Amateurs de Piano in Paris said, “Not amateurs in the sense of dabblers…but musicians who, at some time in their lives, have had to make a choice between their profession and their potential career as a concert performer.”

The first API competition in Colorado Springs was held in May 2000 in Packard Hall on the Colorado College Campus and since has attracted participants from the U.S., Canada, Dubai, Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, France, Germany, England and Japan.

Information and application

API Celebration and Fundraiser

The Amateur Pianists International Celebration and Fundraiser on June 13 at The Mezzanine fulfilled all expectations. We were honored to welcome Van Cliburn Gold Medal Winner Jon Nakamatsu who performed along with pianists Mark Arnest, Dale Backus and Angelina Gadeliya.

Celebration & Fundraiser – Make a Gift Today!


Amateur Pianist International

Amateur Pianist International

DATE ANNOUNCED FOR 2015 SUMMER CELEBRATION

Mark your calendars for the Amateur Pianists International Celebration and Fundraiser on June 13 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at The Mezzanine featuring Jon Nakamatsu and special guests.

Established in 2000, Amateur Pianists International (API), now a member of the Conservatory Family of Programs, is committed to sharing the transformative powers of music with the Rocky Mountain Region. API helps to support the careers of outstanding amateur pianists through our biennial international competition.

The 2016 Amateur Pianists International Competition will be held March 15 through 19, 2016 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Events include preliminaries, semi-finals, finals, workshops and a master class with our special guest artist. The registration application and information will be available on this site.

Please welcome the API Leadership Council

Amber Marek
Mark Arnest
Dale Backus
Angelina Gadeliya
Susan Grace
George Preston
Linda Weise

Learn More about our leadership council:

About Amateur Pianist International:
A new member of  the Conservatory family of programs

In 2014, Amateur Pianist International (API) founder Chuck Cabell and Conservatory Founding CEO Linda Weise announced that API will be operated as a program of The Conservatory, and that the 2014 Annual Celebration of the Amateur Pianist will be held July 18-20, 2014 at Packard Hall on the Colorado College Campus.

“As part of our international programming, we look forward to infusing RMAPI with the exuberant Conservatory culture,” says Weise.

The first Rocky Mountain Amateur Piano Competition was held in May, 2000, in the 299-seat Packard Hall on the Colorado College campus. It attracted only thirteen competitors, mostly local.

“It was enough to convince us that the potential was there for a growing yearly event,” says Cabell. “David Sckolnik helped us take the next step. That was to go beyond the original concept of simply having a yearly international competition to the notion of a full time organization dedicated to the amateur that would present various events—master classes, recitals, seminars, workshops—during the time of the competition and throughout the year as well. Thus was born Amateur Pianists International and the annual Celebration of the Amateur Pianist.

About API – Excerpts from article written by Chuck Cabell for Klavier magazine
In 1989, Gérard Bekerman founded the Concours des Grands Amateurs de Piano(Competition for Outstanding Piano Amateurs) in Paris, France. Although a professor of economics at Paris University, Gérard is a graduate of the Paris School of Music and is himself an outstanding amateur pianist. He envisioned the event as an “anti-competition” for people like himself: excellent pianists, but with careers outside of music. The “anti-competition” part meant that he wished to attract top players but he did not want to visit upon amateurs the gut-wrenching stress that was the hallmark of the professional competitions. As he put it:

“Here, the desire to ‘win’ is outweighed by the love of music. There are no opponents, no competitors, no judges, just music lovers.”

The response was overwhelming. Gérard had rediscovered a whole class of musical obsessives: “…not amateurs in the sense of ‘dabblers,’ but pianists, ‘who don’t just play the piano,’ musicians who, at some time in their lives, have had to make a choice, often a difficult one, between their profession and their potential career as a concert performer, the choice between making a living and their love of music.”
People came from all over the world to participate, and the Competition has been held every January since—now having attracted hundreds of participants from over forty countries around the world. And as you might expect, it is a real competition, complete with judges, winners and prizes. Still, Gérard’s “anti-competition” attitude has helped to set a more congenial tone for the Paris competition and for all of the amateur competitions that have followed.
The amateur movement got a huge boost in this country when the Van Cliburn Foundation, presenter of the famous Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (for professionals), launched its first ever International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, in June, 1999, on the campus of Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, Texas. It was done in collaboration with its French forebears, and French pianists took away many of the prizes.
I was there not as a competitor, but as the “groupie” friend of a competitor, Gregory Adams. I play, but not well enough to wind the metronomes of those who were there. As I recall, 100 were invited and 97 showed up. It was a nearly overwhelming experience, not just because of the level of play—which was extraordinarily high—but because of the interactions of the participants.

The typical competitor works all day at his/her profession—as a doctor, lawyer, airline pilot, philatelist, engineer, newspaper reporter, ambassador (all actual professions of competitors to date)—then comes home to spouse and family. Pretty normal so far. But whereas others might have a leisurely dinner then settle down to a good book or some relaxing TV before reading a nice bedtime story to the kids and then toddling off to his/her own bed, our hero/heroine would prefer to gulp down dinner, fidget through the bedtime story, and spend the next four hours at the piano. And for what? So that a few measures of Beethoven’s Opus 110 could be played more smoothly than they were the night before? Who understood that? Not the butcher at Safeway; not their co-workers; often, not even their own families.

What I observed at the Van Cliburn was that the competitors had never realized there were others like them until they came together, and their joy at being able to share both their passion for the piano and what they had to go through to indulge it were electrifying and touching. So much so that many friendships and several marriages have resulted from these competitions (not all from the Van Cliburn).

What I also observed was that the Van Cliburn Amateur was a different sort of competition in another way. A semifinalist was playing a Mozart Sonata sublimely when a tiny memory lapse during the last movement threw him off. He continued gamely for a short while, but he was clearly in trouble. The train began to teeter and very soon it was off the track and heading down into the gorge, where it crashed to a stop in a smoking tangle of wrecked cars. The miserable wretch was slumped over his piano bench in the embarrassing silence, when someone from the audience, another competitor in fact, shouted in a friendly voice: “Hey John (not the real name), start over.” He did, and finished the piece in triumph. I’m not sure such a “do-over” would have been so enthusiastically received at a professional competition.

And it was like that the whole time. They played for each other, they discussed fingering and interpretations, they supported and praised each other, they exchanged email addresses and phone numbers, and the ones who lived near each other made plans to get together. On the whole, although a number of the competitors were all business and felt the agony of defeat when they did not progress though the rounds, from where I sat it seemed like one great party with an incidental competition thrown in.

I was so thrilled and moved that before we left I suggested to Greg that we have a similar competition in Colorado Springs the next year, calling it a regional version of the Van Cliburn. And we did. Our first Rocky Mountain Amateur Piano Competition was held in May, 2000, in the 299-seat Packard Hall, an acoustic masterpiece with a fabulous Hamburg Steinway concert grand (also a bunch of practice rooms), on the campus of the Colorado College near downtown Colorado Springs. This first competition attracted only thirteen competitors, mostly local, but it was enough to convince us that the potential was there for a growing yearly event.

David Sckolnik helped us take the next step. That was to go beyond the original concept of simply having a yearly international competition to the notion of a full time organization dedicated to the amateur that would present various events—master classes, recitals, seminars, workshops—during the time of the competition and throughout the year as well. Thus was born Amateur Pianists International and the annual Celebration of the Amateur Pianist (which is now one of the events in the Colorado College Summer Music Festival).

The Rocky Mountain Amateur Piano Competition is held every odd-numbered year as part of the annual Celebration. Our competition has grown to approximately thirty competitors (and we plan to hold it to that number), and we have so far attracted participants from the U.S., Canada, Dubai, Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, France, Germany, England and even Japan.