Japanese pianists win 3rd and 4th prizes at the Queen Elisabeth Competition

Japanese pianists Keigo Mukawa and Tomoki Sakata won third and fourth prizes respectively at the Queen Elisabeth Competition, a prestigious competition for international musicians held in Brussels.

The organizers announced the results at the end of the final phase on Saturday in the Belgian capital. The first prize went to Jonathan Fournel from France, with Russian Sergei Redkin taking second place.

The picture shows Keigo Mukawa (R) and Tomoki Sakata in Brussels on May 29, 2021 (Kyodo)

“I am honored to receive the third prize. I think it will open doors for me in my international career,” Mukawa, 28, told reporters after the awards ceremony. “I am very satisfied.”

Sakata, 27, said he was proud to have won an award at “the most important competition in the world of music”.

Mukawa, originally from Aichi prefecture in central Japan, studied the fortepiano at the Paris Conservatory. Sakata, originally from Nagoya, studies at the University of Music, Drama and Media in Hanover, Germany.

They both studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts before continuing their studies in Europe.

Momo Kodama, a Japanese pianist who was one of the judges, praised the performances of the two, saying, “I have no doubts that they will stand on the world stage.”

Kodama said Mukawa had both “delicacy” and “daring” in his performance and called Sakata’s piece “architectural” with a strong presence.

Dating from 1937, the competition is named after Queen Elisabeth of Belgium (1876-1965) and focuses on violinists, pianists, singers and cellists embarking on their international careers.

The piano competition was originally scheduled to take place last year but has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 12 semi-finalists and six finalists did not perform in front of a live audience, but their performances were broadcast live on the Internet, radio and television.

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