By Janee Law
At the grand opening of its Melville showroom last weekend, Grace Music School officials announced the school’s first piano competition, which will task participants will performing a song from Billy Joel’s classical album, “Fantasies and Delusions.”
Grace Heaphy, director and teacher at the school, said the theme for the competition came about when school officials were trying to think of ways to make it “unique and special.”
Billy Joel was the perfect candidate to do that, Heaphy said, since the Levittown native has a strong musical heritage and has “been very supportive of young people in the arts.”
“He has great classical music so we wanted to expose young pianists to his music and at the same time expose his music to pianists on Long Island,” she said.
The competition was announced last weekend when Grace Music School opened its Melville location, which is found at the Steinway and Sons-owned showroom at 505 Walt Whitman Road. Grace Music School also has a Fort Salonga location, which opened five years ago and remains open.
For the competition, participants ages 13-18 will be tasked with memorizes and performing one song from Joel’s 12-song album. Performances must be recorded and sent to the school by March 1, 2017.
Registration for the competition, which is open to all, began last week. Heaphy said they’ve received more than 10 applications, and that registration ends Dec. 15.
The first place winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and have the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall.
“I know that part of his intention to write this album of classical music is to have young piano students be able to play it,” Heaphy said. “His contemporary music is awesome, but we just want to basically give more credit to the classical music that he did right.”
The final round of the competition will be held on April 1, 2017 and April 2, 2017 at the Melville showroom, where finalists will perform their pieces in front of three judges. The winner of the competition will earn a $1,000 prize and the opportunity to perform at the school’s Carnegie Hall concert on June 2, 2017.
Heaphy said she hopes the competition will be help get piano students to discover “new types of music that they may have never knew existed.”