International piano competition takes center stage in Carmel 


By Dawn Pearson

More than 90 young pianists, ranging in age from 5 to 19 and representing five countries, will be tickling the ivories in the Carmel Debut International Piano Competition from June 19 through June 21.

The event will be hosted by the International Talent Academy, Carmel’s nonprofit performing arts school.

Young contestants will gather at the Tarkington Theatre in the Center for the Performing Arts as musical representatives from Kyrgyzstan, Israel, Japan and South Korea, along with U.S. musicians from seven different states compete against each other for scholarship prizes.



This multi-cultural competition is a reverie for ITA’s executive director Tatyana Komarova.

“It was my big dream from the very beginning to run a competition of this caliber,” she said. “One of the goals of our academy is to raise the level of performing arts to world-class standards by giving opportunities to young children to enter a challenging world of performance, helping them discover their talents and reaching their fullest potential.”

But Komarova couldn’t do this by herself.

When her colleague Irina Gorin came to her with the idea to organize their own International Piano Competition, Komarova was excited and thrilled for the opportunity and the challenge.

“I hope this competition, in addition to all the excitement and prizes, will be a great learning experience for all participants,” she said.

Carmel High School senior Ari Brown, 17, has been playing piano for more than eight years, and during that time he has developed a real passion and love of competition.

He said he’s excited because now he can compete with international superstars right in his own backyard.

“I love piano because I love music as a creative outlet. I also love piano because it is naturally a solo instrument and can create both harmony and melody,” Brown said. “Competition motivates me to work very hard on my pieces and as a result I rapidly progress to new levels of music making.”

Brown’s favorite piece to play is the “Ondine” part of “Gaspard de la Nuit” by Maurice Ravel, but listeners will have to wait to see if he performs this in the competition.

12-year-old music prodigy Chendi Liu will start seventh grade this fall, but she said she ready for the competition.

“I think my favorite aspect of this piano competition will be playing two pieces that I love and have a chance to perform them twice,” Liu said. “I think that the Tarkington Stage is beautiful, and it will be such a cool experience to play there.”

Liu began playing piano seven years ago when she was just five years old, and she knows that success has to be earned.

“My favorite thing about playing piano is when I perform a piece, because that is when all the hard work pays off,” she said. “It is a motivation to keep on playing even when things are rough.”

Her favorite piece to play is Chopin’s Nocturne No. 20 in C-sharp minor.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard applauded the decision to have the competition in Carmel and said it would help make the city a Midwest destination for cultural arts.

“As a nonprofit initiative with a great volunteer staff and local support, I am confident that Carmel can provide a world class experience to the participants, judges and attendees.”

On the final day of the contest, 36 finalists will compete for placement within six age categories. A scholarship award ceremony and a Winners Concert with the prodigies will conclude the event.

All aspects of the competition, including the scholarships, have been sponsored by local businesses and generous patrons of the arts.

“The Carmel Debut International Piano Competition is poised to become a significant source of musical education, while promoting and expanding the arts in central Indiana,” Komarova said.  “We would like to thank all of our supporters for their help and donations. Many families, community people, businessmen brought donations in the first month of the fundraising.”

Their main sponsors are the City of Carmel, Piano Solutions, Andy Miller, IndyAutoMan, Pioneer Realty and the Glick Foundation.

Tickets for the competition and the Winners Concert may be purchased at Tickets start at $15. For more information on donating or volunteering, as well as the latest news and announcements visit