January 3, 2014 Updated: January 4, 2014 at 4:20 am
Nearly 400 professional and amateur piano players of all ages will perform at The Broadmoor over the weekend.
The 16th annual United States International Duo Piano Competition began Friday night and will continue through Sunday. The public is invited to watch for free.
"The hills are alive with the sound of pianos," said Linda King, founder and CEO of the competition.
About 200 teams of two, ranging in age from younger than 6 to adults, will play next to each other at side-by-side pianos. There are only two other duo piano competitions in the world, King said.
"It's much harder than playing solo. Your skill has to be different," she said. "It's more fun. They play off of each other, like a cat and mouse game."
The competing teams come from all over the world, including China, Italy, Korea, Russia and India. Several teams from Colorado also were selected. Each will perform 5-10 minutes of classical music by Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Stravinsky and others.
Four hundred teams sent applications and CDs to the USIDPC last year, and those were whittled to 197 teams, King said. About 85 percent of competitors are younger than 19.
Cash prizes are awarded to the top three professional teams: $1,000 for first, $750 for second and $500 for third. Winners in the amateur categories receive medals.
King, who lives in Centennial, is also a concert pianist, though she doesn't play as much as she used to, she said. She started the competition in 1998 for a simple reason.
"For the love of music between international children," she said. "Music is so universal. In our world today, we need that. So if we start our youth out knowing each other, then what is tomorrow? We develop friendships, relationships and an understanding of each other."
The competition is also important because it helps pianists gain entrance to other international competitions.
"It opens the door," King said. "In Europe, so many times it happens, if you had not won an international competition, you cannot enter an international competition. So, many come to the U.S. to enter."