Honens International Piano Competition Opens 2021 Applications and Announces Details Of Its Tenth Edition


Calgary, AB, February 3, 2020—The triennial Honens International Piano Competition—distinguished for its philosophy of the Complete Artist—opens applications and announces the details of its 2021 edition.

Honens awards its Prize Laureate $100,000 (CAD) and a comprehensive artistic and career development program which includes worldwide representation; debut recitals in career-building markets such as Berlin, London, New York, and Toronto; residencies and special projects; coaching and mentorship opportunities; and the production, release, and distribution of professional recordings. The prize is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Competition juries include pianists and other individuals including artist managers, collaborative musicians, and concert presenters who play a meaningful role in a successful artist’s career. Honens’ 2021 jury roster includes Janina Fialkowska (Canada), Michel Béroff (France), Imogen Cooper (UK), Ick-Choo Moon (Korea), and Katherine Chi (Canada). A complete listing of all three juries can be found at honens.com/juries. Canadian pianist / composer Stewart Goodyear, who will sit as a member of the Second Jury, has also been commissioned to compose an 8-minute piece to be performed by each Semifinalist as an aspect of their solo recital.

Each Competition year, Honens appoints an internationally respected, active concert pianist as its Mentor-in-Residence, who provides a one-hour feedback session with each Semifinalist and Finalist in the days following their performances. American pianist Jeremy Denk has been named as Honens’ 2021 Mentor-in-Residence.

“Honens’ search for the Complete Artist is a celebration of the most exciting young pianists in the world today. The very high quality of our jurors and collaborators complements the engaging atmosphere of Honens and the city of Calgary. As one of the world’s top piano events, we are thrilled to announce our 2021 competition,” says Honens’ Artistic Director, Jon Kimura Parker.

Applications are now open to pianists 20 to 30 years of age. The application deadline is 30 October, 2020 (23:59 GMT-07:00). Fifty pianists will be selected to participate in the Quarterfinals in Berlin and New York in March 2021. and ten will advance to the Semifinals beginning on 14 October, 2021 in Calgary. Only three will endure to the Finals which conclude on

22 October, 2021.

2021 Honens International Piano Competition

The Complete Artist

The Complete Artist is:


  • a thoughtful interpreter, a consummate collaborator, an awe-inspiring virtuoso, a communicator, a risk-taking explorer.


  • a pianist who expresses and interprets ideas from a wide cultural context and keen imagination through performances and programming choices that are informed and seasoned by a fascination for life outside the practice studio.


  • an emerging artist whose distinctive voice, versatility, and ease clearly demonstrate the level of preparedness and mastery necessary to embark upon a professional career.


The Complete Artist’s interpretations are founded upon the intellectual and emotional understanding of musical text and the ability to synthesize and express such understanding so as to challenge and stir the listener on multiple levels. This creative awareness stems not only from knowledge of a particular composition itself but from a wider knowledge of related music, of musical literature as a whole, and of the arts in general. If the resulting interpretation appears unusual and unconventional, it appears so freshly and naturally. Artists taking part in the Honens International Piano Competition must also express—through stage deportment, program design, and interviews with arts journalists—a sensitivity to contemporary culture and a willingness and finesse to communicate effectively with audiences regardless of age, location, background, or degree of musical sophistication.

Cash Awards

Honens Prize Laureate (one) Best Performance of Commissioned Work

$100,000 CAD $2,500 CAD

Finalists: Raeburn Prizes (two) Best Performance of a Beethoven Violin Sonata

$10,000 CAD each $2,500 CAD

Semifinalists (seven)

$2,500 CAD each


Honens believes that a Complete Artist explores both the pivotal works of the piano literature and the music of our time (i.e. works composed during the last 50 years). Applicants are therefore encouraged to include both in their programs.


Each Quarterfinalist performs a 40-minute solo recital in either New York or Berlin in March 2021. Quarterfinal recitals are not open to the general public. Additionally, each Quarterfinalist undertakes a 10-minute English-language interview with an arts journalist.


Each Semifinalist performs a 65-minute solo recital, which must include a newly commissioned 8-minute work by Canadian pianist / composer Stewart Goodyear. In a separate 60-minute solo / collaborative recital, each Semifinalist also performs a program including one of Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas and one piece from Fritz Kreisler’s Alt-Wiener Tanzweisen, both with violinist Martin Beaver, and solo repertoire to complete the program.


Each Finalist performs one three-part concert consisting of a Mozart concerto (from a prescribed list) with the Viano String Quartet plus a bassist, and a set of Schubert lieder (from a prescribed list) with soprano Erin Wall. In an additional concert, each Finalist performs any concerto composed after 1791 with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Each Finalist also undertakes a 30-minute English-language interview with an arts journalist.


Honens Competition juries include concert pianists and other individuals including artist managers, collaborative musicians, and presenters from the musical world who play a meaningful role in a concert artist’s career. All jurors have extensive knowledge of the piano literature and represent and / or are aware of the qualities an artist must possess in order to build and sustain a career in today’s musical world. Biographies of all jurors can be found at honens.com/juries.

applicant screening jury

Jon Kimura Parker (Canada / United States)* *indicates country of origin / country of residence

Bernadene Blaha (Canada / United States)

David Jalbert (Canada / Canada)

Hyeyeon Park (Korea / United States)

first jury (quarterfinals)

Katherine Chi, chair (Canada / United States)

Loie Fallis (Canada / Canada)

Roman Rabinovich (Israel / Canada)

Gilles Vonsattel (Switzerland / United States)

second jury (semifinals and finals)

Michel Béroff (France / France)

Earl Blackburn (United States / United States)

Imogen Cooper (United Kingdom / United Kingdom)

Stewart Goodyear (Canada / Canada)

Janina Fialkowska (Canada / Germany)

Ick-Choo Moon (Korea / Korea)

Orli Shaham (Israel / United States)


In addition to feedback meetings which are required for all Semifinalists and Finalists to discuss questions of their technique, musicianship, and artistry with members of the Second Jury, Honens chooses an internationally respected, actively touring pianist to serve as its Mentor-in-Residence. Each Semifinalist who does not advance to the Finals will meet with the Mentor-in-Residence for a one-hour meeting on the days following the Semifinals. The Mentor-in-Residence also attends the Finals after which he meets with the two Finalists and the Honens Prize Laureate.

The 2021 Mentor-in-Residence is Jeremy Denk.

Collaborating Artists

Martin Beaver violin

Erin Wall soprano

Viano String Quartet + Bass

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

Important Dates

February 1, 2020 Application Submissions open
October 30, 2020 Application Submission deadline
March 11 to 13, 2021 Quarterfinals: New York
March 22 to 24, 2021 Quarterfinals: Berlin
October 14 to 18, 2021 Semifinals I / Semifinals II
October 18, 2021 Announcement of three Finalists
October 21, 2021 Finals I
October 22, 2021 Finals II & Announcement of the Honens Prize Laureate


Applications, available through Embark at honens.com/apply, must be submitted by October 30, 2020 (23:59 GMT-07:00). Previous Honens Laureates and professionally managed pianists are not eligible to apply. For additional information about the 2021 Honens International Piano Competition, please visit, honens.com/2021.


Honens discovers, nurtures, and presents Complete Artists—21st century pianists for 21st century audiences. The Honens International Piano Competition takes place every three years and is considered one of the world’s most prestigious events of its kind. Honens prepares its Laureates for the rigours and realities of professional careers in music and creates opportunities for growth and exposure. The annual Honens Festival is one of Canada’s premier classical music events, intended to share Mrs. Honens’ love of world-renowned music with Albertans every year.

Esther Honens created a legacy of musical excellence to be enjoyed for generations. In 1991, Mrs. Honens gave $5 million to endow an international piano competition in her hometown of Calgary, Canada. Her generosity, vision, and love of music continue to touch the lives of musicians and music-lovers at home and around the world. Honens’ Legacy Partners follow in Esther Honens’ footsteps by securing Honens’ future and ensuring its continued ability to offer a broad scope of programming and community outreach projects.



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