A year of success for a rising star

18 September 2017
A young Australian pianist is making waves across the globe
Aspiring pianist Calvin Abdiel has just enjoyed a year of glittering success at national and international piano competitions. And he's only 16.
Calvin Abdiel playing on finals night

Calvin Abdiel playing at competition finals.

Conservatorium High School and Open Academy at the Con Rising Star student Calvin Abdiel, 16, enjoyed a successful year at important national and international piano competitions in 2017.

Calvin, a Year 11 student at the Conservatorium High School, has been studying with Lecturer in Piano Natalia Ricci of the Conservatorium's Piano Division for the past five years. Calvin joined the high school after arriving from Indonesia.

He recently returned from Brisbane where he won a string of prizes in the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition, held in September. He swept up the First Prize for Concerto Performance ($5000) on the finals night with a great performance of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. He also won the People's Choice Prize ($5000), Second Prize over all rounds ($10,000) and he was the winner of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra vote ($1000). Calvin also won the Best Performance of a Commissioned Australian Work ($1000): a total of $22,000 of prizes in all.

Calvin, at 16, was selected by competitive audition from a pool of about 90 of Australasia's best young aspiring pianists to participate in this year's competition. Live auditions were held throughout Australia and in Auckland, New Zealand, throughout May. Calvin was the youngest entrant and the youngest ever participant to make the finals.

Earlier in the year, Calvin had another wonderful success on the international stage, winning second prize as the youngest in his division at the International Piano Competition 'Steps to Mastery' for young artists held in St Petersburg, Russia, in June. He played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the State Capella Orchestra of St Petersburg on that occasion.

In November, Calvin won a Theme and Variations Foundation Scholarship of $10,000, with a stunning performance of Chopin's Scherzo No. 4 and Barber's Sonata. Selected as the youngest of six applicants from around Australia, he was invited to perform a recital to a panel of three judges. Calvin was the only NSW scholarship recipient. In connection with this award, Calvin was also chosen to participate in the 2018 Canberra International Music Festival as the 2018 Young Artist and to give solo and chamber music recitals as part of the festival.

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra has invited him to perform a concerto with them as winner of the Finals Concerto Prize, Queensland Symphony Prize and Audience Prize at the Vlassenko Piano Competition.

Congratulations to Calvin and his teacher, Natalia Ricci, for their wonderful efforts and success.