International piano competition held in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Concert pianists got to show off years of hard work and practice in Albuquerque Sunday.

It paid off with a very sweet gig. It started with 21, and came down to three in a grueling competition among some of the best young pianists in the world at the 2022 Third Olga Kern International Piano Competition.

“Today is the day of culmination of really 9 years of hard work that began with the envisioning of this competition,” said Maureen Baca, board president of both the Olga Kern International Piano Competition and New Mexico Philharmonic.

Jonathan Mamora, the first-place winner, took home $15,000 and multiple concert engagements through the end of 2024, across both the United States and Europe.

“It’s not an easy task for anyone to step up on this stage and play,” Mamora said.

The competition’s third-prize winner, Yanfeng “Tony” Bai, spoke on the event.

“Going to a new environment with new pianos and different schedules, that kind of stuff, I think for us it’s one of our must-taken lessons to deal with,” Bai said. “You have to know how to bring your best before a performance, you know how to adapt.”

“I’m sure some of my colleagues who competed are practicing eight to ten hours a day, something like that. It seems crazy, but you just get in some zone and focus, and time passes by,” said Mamora.

“So, so many people supported us in this high-level competition. We have so many great competitors and we became friends at the end. Having a standing ovation from the audience, that definitely is one of my best moments in my life,” said Bai.