Arts & Culture

Fredonia’s Sorel piano competition and Piano Fellows Program now open to young musicians

Applications are now being accepted for the Claudette Sorel Piano Competition, open to young artists ages 15 to 18 and offering a top cash award of $2,500, at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

New to the annual competition, now in its fourth year at the Fredonia School of Music, is the Piano Fellows program, designed for talented pianists, ages 15 to 18, who are serious about their craft and are looking for an intensive musical experience, but who may not yet be ready for the competition circuit.

Students chosen as Sorel finalists will be asked to present a program, from memory, of no longer than 15 minutes, that demonstrates an artistic vision, such as works of a specific composer, known or unknown, a thematic connection between works or an original way of presenting music. Finalists will be notified by Oct. 1.

The competition’s live final round will be held on Sunday, Nov. 3, in Fredonia’s Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall and utilize its Steinway piano. Young performers will be able to whet their feet in the professional piano competition arena and gain valuable experience and exposure. The final round will also be live streamed.

Additional $1,250 cash prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the judges. Each finalist will receive a copy of the judges’ written comments and a recording of their performance.

Winners will be announced after a short meeting of the judges; a reception will follow. School of Music faculty serving as judges are Eliran Avni, Mary Cobb, Fr. Sean Duggan, Phyllis East and Dr. Anne Kissel.

The new Fellows program, to be held Nov. 1-3, features attendance at a guest artist recital on Friday evening, a full day of activities on Saturday, including a lesson with a piano faculty member, a master class, lunch and practice time. Full scholarships are available to all Fellows. Personal and travel expenses are not covered by the scholarships.

Participants will perform at a Fellows concert on Saturday evening in Rosch, receive a video recording of that performance and gain behind-the-scenes access to the Sorel Piano Competition on Sunday. The Fellows program will provide an opportunity for young musicians to prepare for college/conservatory auditions.

Students who wish to register for the Sorel competition are to submit a high-quality video, between 7 and 10 minutes, of a performance of a piece they are passionate. All music must be performed from memory. Competitors may choose different repertoire for the video and recital rounds. Competitors are strongly encouraged to submit two contrasting works (style, tempo, mood) and a short biography (100 word limit), which may be used in competition promotions and/or printed program.

Additionally, students are to answer three short questions that address their passion for the piano, why they chose their recital program and what composers they like to perform. Responses will be included in a printed program for the final round.

Applicants to the Sorel competition who are not selected as finalists will automatically be considered for the Fellows program. Finalists in the competition will not be allowed to also participate in the Fellows program.

The following link can be used to apply to either the Sorel competition or Fellows program: Interested persons can also visit the School of Music website at

Students currently enrolled at the State University of New York at Fredonia and previous Sorel competition first place winners are not eligible to apply.

The Sorel competition is named for the late Fredonia School of Music pianist and SUNY Distinguished Professor Claudette Sorel and is supported by a foundation she founded. The Elizabeth and Michel Sorel Charitable Organization creates opportunities for women in composition, conducting, piano, voice and film scoring to keep musical excellence alive while expanding the boundaries for women in music.

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