The only international competitor of the 2016 competition’s seven finalists delivered standout performances.

The 25-year-old Ukrainian guitarist Marko Topchii has picked up the $10,000 first prize in Australia’s most prestigious classical guitar competition. Topchii was the clear standout among seven other finalists from Australia, who all delivered impressive performances in the Dunstan Playhouse at the Adelaide Festival Centre on Sunday.

The winners were announced by the Festival’s Artistic Director, Slava Grigoryan. Melbourne-based guitarist Miles Johnston was awarded the $4,000 second prize, while Andrew Blanch from Sydney picked up the $2,000 third prize.

“It was an amazing group of finalists this year – a very, very high standard,” Grigoryan told Limelight. “At the pointy end of competitions you get players at the top of the profession who have worked on these pieces for months, so it can be really exciting to listen to them.”

The competitors were given a maximum of 15 minutes to showcase a programme of their choice, which had to include at least one work composed before 1850, and one work composed after. The winner performed JS Bach’s Prelude and Presto, BWV996, Etude No 7 by Villa-Lobos and Capriccio Diabolico by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

“Marko Topchii is an extraordinary young artist and a very deserved winner in this years Adelaide Guitar Festival Competition,” said Grigoryan. “His choice of repertoire in the final allowed him to express the full extent of his musical imagination and technical refinement. The judging panel unanimously agreed that Marko was the standout winner, with some of them awarding him the maximum possible score.”

The only international competitor, Topchii is currently studying a doctorate degree at the Tchaikovsky National Academy of Music in Kiev. He adds first prize at this year’s Adelaide International Guitar Competition to an enviable list of over 50 awards in international competitions worldwide.

“It’s a pleasure and honour for me to be here in Australia and to play for you,” he said, upon being presented with the prize. In addition to the generous $10,000 award, Topchii takes home a $16,000 guitar made by South Australian luthier Jim Redgate, and will be invited back to perform at the 2018 Adelaide Guitar Festival.

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