Quirky waltz wins 2022 Pianist Composing Competition

18 March 2022
By Erica Worth
The results are in!

Congratulations to Michelle Lord from Birmingham, UK, who has won a Kawai piano. Lord wowed the judges with her 56-bar waltz, The Spectre’s Waltz. Full of unexpected twists and turns, the two-page composition will suit intermediate-level pianists with a good sense of imagination.

A regular reader of Pianist, Lord is a self-employed piano teacher. She loves to compose; in fact, she entered the previous competition with Walking the Dog – an entry which received a special mention: "I was so glad that I got a mention, so I thought I’d have another go!" she says. "I spent a lot of my time walking last year, and wanted to do something about springtime. All of a sudden, a little tune popped into my head while I was in the shower! So I sat down at the piano and started composing."

And what of the title, The Spectre’s Waltz? "The tune made me think of  looking down on a ballroom full of ghosts. I even tried to include a nod and wink to Phantom of the Opera."

Lord says it took a while to get the piece in good shape: "I didn’t sit and compose it in one go. I kept going back until I was happy with it. I had two endings and I couldn’t decide which to do. I went with a Chopin left-hand style towards the end, because I felt that it displayed more of an understanding between different styles. And I used a tremolo in the last bar because I wanted a really dramatic ending!" 

Lord receives a black Kawai ES520 digital piano (pictured above): "It’s great timing. I already own a white digital piano, and have had it for some time, but I always wanted a black one. This instrument will be perfect for my pantomime gigs and corporate events at hotels." 

Right now, Lord is in the process of writing a musical. "I’m very excited about it! Winning this competition has confirmed that I can compose. It’s been proven. I need to go further." 

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The competition’s runner up was Stephen Langford, with yet another waltz – Waltz for AvaOther pieces that impressed the judges were James Alcantara’s Song without Words; Florian Barbier’s Enfantine; André van Haren’s Nature’s Wonders; Igor Korokhov’s Nocturne; Robert Paxman’s Big Sky and Lori Wadsworth’s Enchantment.

The Spectre’s Waltz will be published in Pianist 127. Thanks to over 110 entrants to the competition, who yet again ensured a high standard and a tough day of decisions by the judges! 

The 2023 Pianist Composing Competition will open this summer. Full details will be announced in due course.