Dallas International Piano Competition Nurtures Emerging Talent

Pianists from around the world are gathering in Dallas for the Dallas International Piano Competition (DIPC) in hopes of winning an opportunity to perform with the Dallas Chamber Symphony and to hone their skills through master classes.

The competition, running March 15-18, is a partnership between Dallas Chamber Symphony and the Meadows School for the Arts at Southern Methodist University. DIPC focuses on developing and educating aspiring professional pianists as well as high school, college and graduate musicians.

The competition dates to Dallas Chamber Symphony’s first season as the new organization sought to extend its reputation.

“Its initial purpose was to build relationships with SMU and its students and then build relationships beyond Dallas and get on the map nationally and internationally. Its put us on the radar. People all around the world apply and participate,” Richard McKay, the artistic director and conductor of the Dallas Chamber Symphony, said.

The participating eighteen quarterfinalists are natives of South Korea, Germany, the Philippines, the United States of America, Taiwan and China.

Throughout four days, the pianists take advantage of master classes taught by Southern Methodist University and guest faculty.

“It’s a forum where the pianist plays a short piece and the professor coaches them. The master class is an opportunity for the professor to see how the pianist adapts the pieces according to their instruction. A lot of local teachers treat it as a development period,” McKay said.

This year’s master class faculty includes Boris Slutsky, an internationally renowned pianist who serves as the Piano Department Chair at The Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, and Dr. Carol Leone, the Co-Chair of the Keyboard Department and Associate Professor of Piano at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts who has taught in international festivals in Italy, Russia, the Czech Republic, China and South Korea.

Jury members Angela Cheng, Enrico Elisi and Ning An will also offer master classes. The master classes are public and independent from the competition. Advanced pianists over the age of sixteen are urged to apply to participate in the master classes and encouraged to watch the competition rounds.

The competition consists of three rounds at Caruth Auditorium at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, beginning with the eighteen quarterfinalists playing a twenty-minute program. The second round of the program features nine semifinalists playing an uninterrupted thirty-minute program. Five finalists compete in the third round with no time limit.

First, second, third winners as well as honorable mention pianists win cash awards, but only the first-place winner earns an opportunity to perform with the Dallas Chamber Symphony on a subscription concert.

Dallas Chamber Symphony

For Kenny Broberg, winner of the 2016 DIPC, the performance opportunity was the main appeal of the competition.

“It’s a resume and performance opportunity. Playing with orchestras helps you get better,” Broberg said.

Broberg appreciated Southern Methodist University’s excellent facilities, was impressed by Dallas Chamber Symphony’s superior reputation and valued the Dallas audiences’ engagement. “They got good crowds in the middle of the days which was amazing,” Broberg said.

At age 23, this graduate of the University of Houston has won prizes from several competitions including Sydney International, New Orleans International, Seattle Symphony International, and Wideman International. He has performed as a soloist with Sydney Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, the Houston Ballet, the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra and the Moores School of Symphony.

“He is a phenom. Just incredible,” McKay said. “He can shift on a dime. He’s a tremendous, compelling talent.”

Broberg played Rachmanioff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini for the competition, but for his appearance with the Dallas Chamber Symphony, he will play Liszt’s Totentanz. “It’s a good virtuosic piece,” Broberg said.

The piece is based on a Gregorian chant and reflects Liszt’s romantic fascination with death. Translated, the title means “dance of death” and the orchestra and piano soloist perform variations representing a multitude of characters including a monk, a soldier and a child.

Broberg will perform with the Dallas Chamber Symphony on April 18 at the Dallas City Performance Hall.

For a detailed schedule of the Dallas International Piano Competition, visit For more information about Dallas Chamber Symphony’s concert featuring Kenny Broberg, visit

Kimberly Richard is a North Texan with a passion for the arts. She’s worked with Theatre Three, Inc. and interned for the English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company. She graduated from Austin College and currently lives in Garland with her very pampered cocker spaniel, Tessa.

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