Thirty-two pianists are about to battle it out for $164,000 in donated cash prizes as well as concert engagements and recording opportunities as the 12th iteration of the Sydney International Piano Competition steps into the digital sphere.

Following last year’s postponement of the event due to COVID-19, the competition will proceed as an entirely pre-recorded fixture in 2021 from 1 July, with the winners to be announced on 18 July.

Piers Lane

Piers Lane. Photograph © Keith Saunders

The logistics of juggling international time differences have been challenging, says Artistic Director Piers Lane, on top of the incredibly tough calls the panel of selectors had to make in whittling the list of entries from 285 applicants to 32.

“Talking to the competitors, I really got the feeling they were just so happy to have something serious to work to,” Lane tells Limelight. “It’s very different from the live competition but they’ve all shown resourcefulness, imagination and intelligence coping with it all.”

Each finalist was given a small amount of money to record their own work, says Lane, speaking from his Brisbane home, the city where...