© Standard-Times Sanangelo
SAN ANGELO, Texas — A 23-year-old Russian pianist who is a student at Texas Christian University took the top prize over the weekend at the Sorantin Competition, wowing the judges with a performance of the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2.
Anna Bulkina, a masters graduate of the Rostov State Conservatory currently attending the school of music at TCU, will come back to San Angelo for a Feb. 6 performance with the San Angelo Symphony, titled "Orchestral Fireworks," reprising her winning performance of the Prokofiev work.
Bulkina took away $4,000 in prize money from the Sorantin — $2,000 for winning the piano division and $2,000 for overall winner — and will receive another $1,000 for her performance with the local symphony in February. She also received the Mayer Anderson Award as part of the overall win.
Runner-up in the Saturday night finals was Vincent Meklis, a 17-year-old violinist studying at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy. Meklis, who is from Oak Lawn, Ill., played the Walton Violin Concerto. He won $2,000 for finishing first in the strings division.
The remaining prize money went to Jing Qiao, a 17-year-old Chinese violin prodigy studying at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music who was runner-up in the string division with a reading of the Dvorak Violin Concerto and went home with $1,000; and to 17-year-old Kehan Xu, a student from the Moscow Conservatory’s Central Music School, who played the Khachaturian Piano Concerto to clinch runner-up in the piano division for $1,000.
The competition underwent a substantial change this year, with entrants competing to get to the semifinals by submitting DVDs of their performances rather than appearing in person. As a result, only eight of the semifinalists came to San Angelo rather than the usual 40 or 45 competitors.
"From a logistics standpoint, it was much easier this year," said Debbie Wilson, a San Angelo Symphony spokeswoman.
Other competitors who made it to the semifinals were Jiri Levicek, a 25-year-old pianist from the University of North Texas; Hand Nahkur, a 27-year-old pianist studying at Texas Christian University; Hye-Yoon Choi, a 21-year-old cellist studying at the New England Conservatory; and Chang Ho Lim, a 25-year violinist studying at the Manhattan School of Music.
Judges, Wilson said, came from both coasts and from Texas. Piano division judges were Jeffrey Biegel from the piano faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in New York and Kevin Fitz’Gerald, from the piano faculty at the University of Southern California. String division judges were Andres Diaz, professor of cello at Southern Methodist University, and Lucie Robert, professor of violin at the Manhattan School of Music in New York.