It is nerve racking to compete head to head. In sports this is a fairly normal part of the job, but when it comes to artists, especially pianists, it is a big shift from the norm.
A musician's routine is quiet and predicable. You generally practice alone and it is here that you polish and learn, working on your fingering, phrasing and the little things that mean so much to you, but might not be even noticed by an audience.
That all goes out the window at an international competition in a new place, new people, new audience, and the fact that you are being judged on every note you play. If you do well and keep everything under control, you advance and live to face new challenges and even higher pressures.
On The Piano this Sunday, a program made with the recordings form last years San Antonio International Piano Competition; now we are into the finals.
The field of pianists has be trimmed from eight to four and if there was anytime to show the world what you are made of as an artist - this is the time. The music you choose to display your virtues is so important.
First is a sonata by American Samuel Barber that he composed as a work to be premiered by no one less than Vladimir Horowitz, who at this time was at the peak of his powers.
Next a contestant plays "5 Bagatelles" from the Australian composer Carl Vine. Then a "War Sonata" of Sergei Prokofiev that ends with a knuckle-busting Toccata marked Precipitato.
The program ends with music of the Russian mystic Alexander Scriabin, who found this piece so disturbing that he wouldn't play all of it - even to friends.
Sciabin's "Ninth Sonata" has earned the nickname the "Black Mass."
Four great young artists and the chance to prove their meddle on The Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.