New Mexico is gearing up for a new piano competition established by Cliburn Gold Medalist Olga Kern. Kern, a co-winner with Stanislav Ioudenitch, is basing her namesake competition on the benefits provided to her by the Cliburn.

The inaugural Olga Kern International Piano Competition will take place Nov. 13-20 in Albuquerque, N.M., with the Russian-born pianist and 2001 Cliburn competition co-winner serving as its artistic director and jury president.

The competition came about after one of Kern’s many appearances with the New Mexico Philharmonic. A conversation she had with Marian Tanau, the executive director of the orchestra, and Dr. Frederick Fiber, a local donor, revealed that they all shared an interest in advancing the musical impact of the New Mexico Philharmonic and that of the state itself.

New Mexico never had something like this before.

“Aspiring contestants, who are already at the beginning stage of a professional career and between the ages of 18 and 32, will send in a video ‘audition’ that will be reviewed by the panel of judges, and 20 will be invited to compete,” competition board President Maureen Baca said.

The winner will receive a cash prize of $11,000, a professional recording and — similar to the Cliburn’s top prize — multiple concert engagements through 2018.

“Of course, I had the Cliburn in my mind in the planning process,” Kern said. “While the cash prize was certainly appreciated, for me, the most important thing was to get the engagements.

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