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Honens taps into live streaming of competition performances

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Stephen McHolm thinks the latest answer may involve a live-streaming video camera.

McHolm is the artistic director of the Honens International Piano Competition, which on Wednesday began its first-ever live stream of its semi-final and final rounds (which run through Oct. 25). He says that when big classical contests like the Van Cliburn and Tchaikovsky are online, other competitions have to go live or see themselves and their winners fade from view.

"We're still trying to build profile, and if we're going to compete against the other major organizations of this kind around the world, we're going to have to do things by video stream," McHolm says.

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More than 20 million people watched the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition online. The 2011 Tchaikovsky turned the legendary piano contest into "one long TV show," McHolm says, with video cameras documenting the performances and backstage thoughts of all competitors, as well as commentary by a revolving cast of piano pundits.

Honens's first time on the small screen is more modest, and less intrusive. Three cameras will capture the Calgary competition's two final performance layers, feeding the semis to the Honens site. The finals will be transmitted via CBC Radio-Canada to the European site medici.tv, which claims 12-million visitors to its concert streams during the past three months. Medici.tv will also repeat the semis on Friday and Monday. All recorded performances will be archived for a year.

Honens raised $80,000 for the venture, though "in-kind donations would triple that," says McHolm. Half the cash went to cover the cost of filming the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra for the final round. The winner will take home $100,000, plus a four-year career development package Honens values at $500,000.

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About the Author

Robert Everett-Green is a feature writer at The Globe and Mail. He was born in Edmonton and grew up there and on a farm in eastern Alberta. He was a professional musician for several years before leaving that task to better hands. More

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