The winner of the world’s only amateur piano competition to take place entirely on YouTube has been announced. ChooHooi Khoo, also known as Janice, from California, has come first in the second annual Van Cliburn YouTube Contest for Amateur Pianists, beating 57 other entrants in a popular vote.
Videos were posted by contestants – who must be 35 or over – from countries all over the world, including Turkey, Cyprus and the UK, with entrants’ professions ranging from hypnotherapists and doctors to Formula One race car designers. 85,000 people watched the videos, and voting took place via email ballot.
As part of her prize, Khoo is assured a place in the renowned International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, held in 2011 at Fort Worth in Texas. The competition, and its YouTube partner, are both run by the Van Cliburn Foundation, organisers of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competiton for professional pianists.
Malaysian born mother-of-two Khoo, who is a full-time physical therapist, first studied the piano as a child. In recent years she returned to the keyboard after her children began piano lessons, and won this competition with a performance of Schubert’s Impromptu, Op. 90 No. 4 (see video below).
‘With the encouragement of my husband and children, I decided to compete,’ says Choo. ‘During this time, my family and friends have been very supportive, although most of us thought that I was a long-shot, including myself. Even before the winner was announced, my husband ordered me a Steinway grand piano to replace my upright as a consolation prize for losing the competition and to encourage me to continue playing. Having won, I’m very excited about this opportunity to go to Fort Worth in 2011.’