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Vondracek Wins Unisa

Artist Diploma candidate wins South African competition.

Lukas Vondracek ’12 A.D. Wins Unisa International Piano Competition in Pretoria, South Africa

Lukas Vondracek, an Artist Diploma candidate studying with Hung-Kuan Chen, has won the First Prize in the Unisa International Piano Competition in Pretoria, South Africa.  The 25-year old pianist takes home with him a total of $35,000 in prize money including the Unisa Grand Price; the Best Performance of Dazzle, the new work composed for the competition by Klatzow; the Best Recital in the third round and the best performances in part 1 and 2 of the final round.

A native of the Czech Republic, Vondracek ’12 has previously won First Prize in the 2010 Hilton Head International Piano Competition in South Carolina, and was awarded The Raymond E. Buck Jury Discretionary Award at the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The pianist can next be heard in a lunchtime recital on February 24 at 12:15 p.m. at the Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington St. in downtown Boston. He will also give his Artist’s Diploma concert, May 13 at 3 p.m. in NEC’s Jordan Hall.      

Vondracek is the recipient of NEC’s Emma V. Lambrose Presidential Scholarship.

The Unisa Competition is among the programs of the Unisa Music Foundation. It has as its mission to promote music in all its forms at the University of South Africa and throughout South and Southern Africa. Besides international competitions for piano, strings, and voice, it also sponsors national competitions, presents concerts, and organizes master classes and music tuition projects. It has also built a collection of musical instruments and maintains the pianos, organ, and harpsichord at the University. The first International Piano Competition was held in 1982 and was won by the Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin. Other winners have included Metropolitan Opera artists Renée Fleming, Summi Jo, and Johan Botha.

Biography of Lukas Vondracek

Born in Opava, Czech Republic, in 1986, Lukas Vondracek's musical ability was spotted at the age of two by his parents, both professional pianists.

He gave his first concert at the age of 4 and since then has visited 27 different countries and given more than 1000 concerts. His first international tour was at the age of 10 (1997), when he performed at various festivals in the UK and the USA. In the intervening years he gave many recital and concerto performances throughout his home country as well as abroad. He also spent time studying at the Vienna Hochschule with Prof. Peter Barcaba, at the Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland, with Prof. Andrzej Jasinsky, and at Ostrava University with Prof. Rudolf Bernatik. In 2001, he was awarded the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Award for the most exceptional young artist in Europe

Currently, Vondracek is pursuing an Artist Diploma at the New England Conservatory in Boston as a student of Hung-Kuan Chen.

Vladimir Ashkenazy was the conductor when Lukas made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in May of 2002 with concerts in Prague and Italy. Since then he has appeared frequently with the Orchestra, including a major US tour (perfomance at Carnegie Hall), and concerts in Cologne, Lucerne, Vienna, Bad Kissingen, and Birmingham's Symphony Hall.

Performances in Germany, Switzerland, Canada, United States, Nigeria, Venezuela and Great Britain were among the highlights of the 2010/2011 season.

In 2011/2012, Vondracek’s engagements include concerts with the Orchestre National de Belgique, Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguesa, London Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Washington's National Symphony Orchestra.

Photo by Susan Wilson

For further information, check the NEC Website. 


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory in Boston, MA offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, contemporary improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music, jazz, and contemporary improvisation.

NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, century-old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz, contemporary improvisation, and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115