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Vancouver's Ian Parker and Kaori Yamagami of Maple, Ont., won the 2001 CBC Radio National Competition for Young Performers in Montreal on Thursday evening.

Parker, a 23-year-old pianist, and Yamagami, 19, a cellist, each received $15,000. They were among six finalists in the prestigious competition held every two years and regarded as a major career boost for the winners.

Playing with the L'Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, Yamagami won for her interpretation of Samuel Barber's little-heard Concerto for Cello and Orchestra while Parker performed Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra.

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In addition to the prize money, the first-prize winners receive several recital tours and financial support to participate in international auditions in New York. A total of $74,000 in prize money was disbursed at the Montreal competition, with the other four finalists splitting $44,000.

The national competition draws its contestants in rotation from among the various categories of the classical orchestra and idiom. This year, for example, the musicians had to be either string or keyboard players. The 2003 competition will be devoted to brass, woodwinds and voice. The contest was started in 1959 and ran annually until the late 1970s, when it became a biannual event. Notable previous winners include Louis Lortie, Jon Kimura Parker, Joel Quarrington and Angela Hewitt. -- Staff

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