Piano Competition Preliminary Round

Piano Competition Preliminary Round

Marion Buckelew Cullen Center
Westminster Choir College

Now in its 12th year, The Princeton Festival Piano Competition attracts well over a hundred young artists from the tri-state area, nationally, and even internationally. Adjudicated by distinguished conservatory faculty members and accomplished concert performers, this competition provides useful written comments for all participants, with a challenge trophy and cash prize to the winners in each category.

You’ll be impressed with the musicality of these young artists, from the youngest in the Elementary Artist category to conservatory students in the Open Class! We invite you to attend the free Preliminary Rounds and then return for the Final Round to see if your favorite takes home the prize.

Sponsored by Jacobs Music, the region’s exclusive retailer of Steinway & Sons pianos, also representing Yamaha and other fine pianos.




Student Awards

  • Elementary Artists (ages 6-9): Certificate, challenge trophy, and cash prize of $100
  • Intermediate Artists (ages 10-12): Certificate, challenge trophy, and cash prize of $150
  • Junior Artists (ages 13-15): Certificate, challenge trophy, and cash prize of $200
  • Senior Artists (ages 16-18): Certificate, challenge trophy, and cash prize of $500
  • Piano Four-Hands (under 25): Certificate, challenge trophy, and cash prize of $400
  • Open Class (under 25): Certificate, challenge trophy, and cash prize of $1000

Special Award

The Richard L. Tang Yuk Award will be presented to one participant for an outstanding performance, independent of the class in which he or she competed.


Sara Davis Buechner

Noted for her musical command, cosmopolitan artistry, and visionary independence, Sara Davis Buechner is one of the most original concert pianists of our time. Lauded for her “intelligence, integrity and all-encompassing technical prowess” (New York Times), “thoughtful artistry in the full service of music” (Washington Post), and “astounding virtuosity” (Philippine Star), Japan’s InTune magazine sums up: “Buechner has no superior.”

Ms. Buechner joined the faculty of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in 2016, after previously teaching at the Manhattan School of Music, New York University and the University of British Columbia. She has presented masterclasses and workshops at major pedagogic venues worldwide, adjudicated important international piano competitions, and is also a contributing editor for Dover Publications International. In 2017 Ms. Buechner marked her 30th year as a dedicated Yamaha Artist.

As a proud transgender woman, Ms. Buechner also appears as a speaker and performer at important LGBTQ events, and has contributed interviews and articles about her own experience to numerous media outlets worldwide.


Joanne Polk

Joanne Polk was catapulted into the public eye with her recordings of the complete piano works of American composer Amy Beach (1867–1944) on the Arabesque Recordings label. She celebrated the centennial of Beach’s Piano Concerto by giving the work its London premiere with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Barbican Center, under the baton of Paul Goodwin, and subsequently performed it with the Women’s Philharmonic in San Francisco, under conductor Apo Hsu, in a performance described as “brilliant” by critic Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Dr. Polk received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School, and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Manhattan School of Music, where she has been on the Precollege faculty since 2006. She has given master classes at many summer festivals and universities across the country and co-founded Manhattan in the Mountains, a three-week summer music festival in the Catskill Mountains, devoted to chamber music, solo performing, and community engagement.

As a result of her work to date, promoting the music of women composers, she was named one of Musical America’s Top 30 Professionals of the Year (2014) in an article titled, “Profiles in Courage.”