Christopher Parkening and Pepperdine University have announced the winner of the third triennial Parkening International Guitar Competition. The competition, the world's preeminent guitar competition with the largest prize purse of any classical guitar competition, took place from May 29 through June 2, 2012.
Petrit Ceku, 27, of Croatia took the Gold Medal with his scintillating performance of Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez at Pepperdine's Smothers Theatre during the sold-out final round on Saturday, June 2. He received the $30,000 Jack Marshall Prize in addition to his medal.
The Silver Medalist, Rafael Aguirre, 27, of Spain received $12,500; the Bronze Medalist, Florian Larousse, 24, of France was awarded $7,500.
The three finalists, each of whom performed a concerto with the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra under the baton of conductor Richard Kaufman, were selected from a pool of 15 standout competitors. After a brief deliberation by the judging panel, the winner was announced.
The three, along with Solomon Silber, 29, of the United States (fourth place) and Alberta Khoury, 16, of Australia (fifth place), competed in the semifinal round on Friday, June 1.
Other competitors included Tim Callobre, 19, USA; Riccardo Calogiuri, 22, Italy; Silviu Ciulei, 26, Romania; Ricardo Escobar, 26, USA; Fabian Freesen, 28, Germany; Samuel Hines, 20, USA; Adam Kossler, 28, USA; Nemanja Ostoich, 28, Serbia; Andrea Roberto, 16, Italy; and Marko Topchii, 21, Ukraine.
All of the competitors performed on the first full day of the competition (May 31); five semifinalists were then selected to proceed to the second day. The competitors performed required and free-choice pieces and were judged on musicianship, tone, technique, and stage presence.
The distinguished panel of five judges, representing different areas of the music world, were Dave Grusin, film composer and jazz artist; Costa Pilavachi, Senior Vice President of Universal Music Group; David Russell, guitar virtuoso; Julie Smith, Classical Project Manager for The Recording Academy; and Jim Svejda, Classical KUSC radio host and producer.
The 15 competitors vied for cash awards that totaled $57,000. The fourth- and fifth-place winners each received $1,000. Awards of $500 were given to each of the remaining 10 competitors.
Petrit Ceku was born in Prizren, Kosovo, where he received instruction from Luan Sapunxhiu. In 2002 he moved to Zagreb, Croatia, where he continued his music education under Xhevdet Sahatxhija. Later he entered Darko Petrinjak's class at the Music Academy in Zagreb and graduated from the program in 2008. His first CD was released that year under the Naxos label. He currently studies with guitarist Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.
Ceku has won first prize in numerous international guitar competitions, including the 2003 Anna Amalia Competition for Young Guitarists (Germany). The next year he won the Emilio Pujol Guitar Competition (Italy) and the Andres Segovia Competition (Velbert, Germany). In 2007 he placed first in the Michele Pittaluga Guitar Competition (Italy). Last year he received first prize in the Schadt String Competition (Allentown, PA) and the Maurizio Biasini Guitar Competition (Italy).
He has also appeared throughout Europe and North America in solo recitals or accompanied by major symphonic orchestras.
In addition to the Parkening International Guitar Competition, Pepperdine presented the Parkening Young Guitarist Competition for guitarists ages 17 and younger on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29 and 30. First place went to Alec Holcomb, 17, USA; second place to Noah Kim, 16, USA; third place to Jennifer Kim, 13, USA; fourth place to Sean Keegan, 15, USA; and fifth place to Ashwin Krishna, 14, USA.
Additional Young Guitarist competitors were Sergio Gallardo, 17, Bolivia; Samuel Garry, 14, USA; Wu Love, 17, USA; David Steinhardt, 15, USA; and Audra Vigil, 15, USA.
Cash awards for the Young Guitarist Competition included $3,000 for the first-place winner and $750 for each of the other four finalists. Awards of $500 were given to each of the remaining five competitors.
Judging the Parkening Young Guitarist Competition were symphonic orchestrator/music arranger Patrick Russ, Spanish guitarist and concert artist Pablo Sainz Villegas, and record producer/concert promoter David Thomas.
At the final round on June 2, Sainz Villegas, who won the Gold Medal at the inaugural Parkening Competition in 2006, performed the world premiere of John Williams' Rounds, which was recently written for and dedicated to Christopher Parkening and will be a required piece at the 2015 Parkening Competition.
The 2012 Parkening Competition is made possible by generous grants from Howard and Roberta Ahmanson and Juanita and Manny Del Arroz.
The Parkening International Guitar Competition is pleased to congratulate and announce the winners of the 2012 competition:
The Jack Marshall Prize and Gold Medal were awarded to Petrit Ceku.
The Silver Medal was awarded to Rafael Aguirre.
The Bronze Medal was awarded to Florian Larousse.
Fourth Place was awarded to Solomon Silber.
Fifth Place was awarded to Alberta Khoury.
The Parkening Young Guitarist Competition is pleased to congratulate and announce the winners of the 2012 competition:
First Place was awarded to Alec Holcomb.
Second Place was awarded to Noah Kim.
Third Place was awarded to Jennifer Kim.
Fourth Place was awarded to Sean Keegan.
Fifth Place was awarded to Ashwin Krishna.
For more information, visit arts.pepperdine.edu/parkening.