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Classic Piano International Competition

Andrey Gugnin takes €150,000 First Prize at 2024 Classic Piano International Competition

©   -  Copyright  Classic Piano International Competition

Marking the culmination of a journey that began way back in 2022, the 3rd Edition of the Classic Piano International Competition came to a close on Monday 26th February, with Andrey Gugnin being declared as the winner, Kim Sunah taking home the second prize, and Anastasiia Kliuchereva coming in third place.

The hall of the Zabeel Theatre at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel in Dubai was filled with an air of nervous anticipation on Monday 26th February, as each of the nine finalists at the 3rd Classic Piano International Competition filed in, joining the throng of jurors and international cultural journalists that were already present on location.


A few minutes later, one of these nine walked away with a prize worth €150,000, with the other eight each getting their own share of the competition’s staggering €250,000 prize fund. The road to this stage had not been an easy one for any of these pianists, however, with each of them having had to go through Classic Piano’s unique preselection process, as well as the four rigorous rounds of the contest itself.

Unlike most other competitions, Classic Piano selected its participants through a two-year initiative entitled 14 Ways to Dubai, which featured 14 full-length contests held all around the world, with only the top 5 participants of each event winning an invitation to take part in Classic Piano itself.

Once in Dubai, the participants were then required to present two recital rounds, before joining up with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Sergey Smbatyan, for the final two phases, both of which were broadcast live on The competition’s repertoire was specifically designed to test all facets of each contestant’s skillset, with the pianists presenting works from across the entire spectrum of classical music, including pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sergei Prokofiev, Ludwig van Beethoven, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Composer-in-Residence Alexey Shor, amongst many others.

“The repertoire of this competition is extremely nice”, observed jury member Gisèle Ben-Dor. “Whoever put the repertoire together did a wonderful job. The selections are amazing, there’s a lot of variety, and the contemporary piece they chose – the work by Alexey Shor – is very interesting. I find that his music is rooted, I would say, in familiar music, while at the same time doing a lot of things that are not expected which make it very interesting. It's a traditional language, so it’s not really what you would think of as a contemporary piece – being dissonant or strange; this is not music that you have to listen to repeatedly for multiple times in order to understand. The music of Shor is very communicative, you get it right away. And this piece is just wonderful, with all the characters that he found for these heroes of the children’s tales. Perhaps it’s because I’m American, but I found the Tom Sawyer section to be so much fun, just pure fun! It’s a very skilled composition, and I was very curious to hear what the contestants would do with it.”

In addition to Ben-Dor (USA/Israel), each of these four rounds were overseen by an acclaimed jury, with Ashley Wass (UK), Zhe Tang (China), Hüseyin Sermet (Turkey), Marios Papadopoulos (UK), Giuliano Mazzoccante (Italy), Hae-Young Kim (South Korea), Stanislav Ioudenitch (USA), Eleanor Hope (Austria), François-Frédéric Guy (France), Pavel Gililov (Germany/Austria), Peter Donohoe (UK), Kirsten Dawes (South Africa/Germany), Epifanio Comis (Italy), and Massimiliano Caldi (Italy), all joining the renowned conductor on the panel.


“It’s a very unique event”, remarked Ashley Wass, “to have so many satellite competitions which bring us here to Dubai for the finals. Of course, what it means is that the standard of everybody here was very high, everybody had already proven that they are very capable pianists, very capable musicians. Personally speaking, I have to say that it was a real joy to be able to sit there and listen to this very high level of playing. It’s also very interesting that we had such a large jury which I think ensured a wide range of opinion and also fairness.”

©Classic Piano International Competition

After listening to each of the finalists for one last time between the 24th and the 26th of the month, the judges each gave their last scores, with the final standings emerging as follows:

● 1st Place – Andrey Gugnin

● 2nd Place – Kim Sunah

● 3rd Place – Anastasiia Kliuchereva

● 4th Place – Arina Antonosyan

● 5th Place –.Zhiquan Wang

● 6th Place – Marek Kozák

● 7th Place – Yuanfan Yang

● 8th Place – Artem Kuznetsov


● 9th Place – Hyounglok Choi

Asked about the process of deciding the final standings, François-Frédéric Guy observed that “Fifteen people have fifteen opinions, but strangely enough, at the end it’s more simple than one could think. It’s very difficult when you have a lot of people but then nine candidates… we already know that they are all very good because we chose them you know, so after all, although one may think that this candidate could have maybe been in a slightly different position perhaps, ultimately we are all very happy about the results.”

As the First Prize winner, Andrey Gugnin has now walked away with €100,000 in cash, as well as the promise of a ten-stop concert tour with a further total honorarium of €50,000.

“I’m still in the process of coming to terms with everything but obviously I’m really happy about it!”, Gugnin said. “It’s a feeling of emptiness in a way because the tension was so enormous for the whole competition and finally you can just breathe out and feel how exhausted you are, even psychologically. It was very challenging, especially because the gaps between rounds were long so the waiting was really difficult, because you still have this same pressure, thinking about the next round, practising the same pieces over and over… it gets a little bit tough!”

Meanwhile, Kim Sunah has been awarded a €50,000 cash prize, Anastasiia Kliuchereva took €25,000, and the rest of the six finalists each got their own share of the total prize fund.

“I’m really very, very happy now because I didn’t expect it”, Kim Sunah said. “It’s a very long competition compared to other competitions so it was a little bit difficult and I'm kind of tired since we had to prepare for four stages. But it was a great experience, the orchestra and the conductor were so nice, and I really enjoyed playing with them. The organisation is perfect, the people here are extremely nice and everything was really great!”

The competition now having reached its conclusion, all eyes are turning to Gugnin, with the champion of Classic Piano soon set to embark upon his winner’s tour, and already busy eyeing future opportunities for further chances to showcase his impressive talent. “I haven’t decided anything about the future yet”, he noted, “but I do hope that apart from the huge cash prize there will also be an effect in terms of additional concerts, because ultimately what every artist wants is to play concerts. I’m quite blessed that I do have concerts lined up, but that’s what I enjoy the most and I hope I will continue to be able to do so.”

The jurors, meanwhile, had their own words of advice for Gugnin, with Stanislav Ioudenitch stating that “I’m very happy with the results because we now have a great winner who will truly represent this competition at the very highest level. Andrey, he is a mature artist already and he already has a lot of experience and a huge repertoire, so what I would like to say to him is ‘Don’t stop!’. He has won but now he needs to make sure to use all his talents and do all he can to continue advancing his career, because he is really a wonderful pianist. So just practice and play as much as possible, and don’t stop!”

Fellow juror Peter Donohoe had similar sentiments to share, declaring that “I hope, given that it’s a fairly extensive tour and a lot of money, I hope they’re absolutely ready for it! Because when you win a competition that night is a change of your life, especially with a competition that’s major like this one. You feel as if you’re another person because the world treats you differently, but you need to make sure to stay on the ground and be fully aware of reality as opposed to what people are telling you. Because what they’re telling you is based on your success and gradually that becomes more of the distant past, and I think that’s when it’s dangerous! There are so many pitfalls that can befall you”, he warned, ”but then there are also so many fantastic things that can happen, so now it’s up to them to make their own path!”

For all the latest updates about the Classic Piano International Competition, and news regarding the prize winners, do make sure to visit the official website at now.