Aspiring music students refer to them as Julliard, Curtis or Oberlin, but these names signify the top music schools in the US and the world. It was against an international field of young pianists from such premier institutions, and other young Australians and New Zealanders of comparable local pedigree that Alex Raineri emerged as this year’s winner of the Kerikeri International Piano Competition.
In the beautiful setting of New Zealand’s renowned tourist destination, the Bay of Islands, the Kerikeri competition was established in 1987 and has steadily developed its reputation and appeal, this year attracting 54 entries from 15 different countries.
With a first prize of $15,000, it is not only a prestigious award but offers a significant boost to a young musician’s financial resources. In addition to being judged the overall winner, Alex also received the Jill Cottle award for the Best Sonata.
Competition patron and esteemed New Zealand concert pianist Michael Houstoun said
“Alex arrived ready to play and did so with tremendous assurance and mastery. The Berg sonata and Messiaen’s ‘Le Loriot’ were magnificent, both refined and played with great understanding. Also excellent were his Brahms Intermezzo, Vine Bagatelles and Granados piece. Throughout the competition Alex demonstrated a winning combination of hands, head and heart.”
Now back at home in Brisbane, on semester break from the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne (ANAM) where he is studying a Masters offered jointly with Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, Alex has time only to pause briefly to reflect on what his recent wins means for him.
He is then off to rehearse with local group Kupka’s Piano he helped found, for its next concert at The Judith Wright Centre in Fortitude Valley where ‘Kupka’s’ is also resident contemporary music ensemble, before heading back to Melbourne.
ANAM, currently led by Brisbane’s Paul Dean, pushes its students very hard – all are planning careers in performance – and Alex is enjoying the frequent and demanding opportunities the Academy gives him to work with both local and visiting artists of international acclaim.
“I have been a huge fan of Alex’s ever since I heard him perform in his early teens. His achievements at ANAM this year have been remarkable and his win in this prestigious competition is a great credit to his tireless hard work, and the great care of the piano department here at ANAM led by Timothy Young. Of course on a personal level I always hold a special cheer for my fellow Brisbane-‐ites who continue to be successful all over the world and keep popping up in leading positions and on the podium for competitions all over.”
At the same time, he is also very appreciative of ‘the Queensland Con’ from which he graduated with a University Medal and First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Music (Advanced Performance) in 2013.
Indeed, two weeks prior to the Kerikeri competition he was thrilled to be awarded a $25,000 scholarship from Griffith University to assist in his Masters studies.