Why do musicians put themselves through the grueling process of competitions and is it ever worth it?

If you combine the stunning beauty of the Southern Highlands, its inhabitants, many of whom are music aficionados, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, a team of international jurors and an elite group of international concert pianists, you are very likely to create the Southern Highlands International Piano Competition.

The event had its genesis in 2007 and now runs biannually in idyllic Bowral, only an hour-and-a-half south of Sydney. Every two years it gains in momentum and gusto. Above all the international recognition and regard for the Competition has increased over the years. For 2013, the famous Austrian pianist Paul Badura-Skoda has accepted the role of Artistic Patron consolidating the musical integrity and international standing of the Competition.

The response of upcoming artists from around the world has been astounding and we received a record of eighty applicants. The standard was extraordinary and the panel had great difficulty choosing the 27 that would eventually compete. As one would suspect Russia, its neighbours and the United States of America are strongly represented but Asia and Australia too have a strong presence. There will also be pianists from...