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June 9, 2011

Never let it be said that hard work and a faith in ones self doesn’t pay off.

If that statement were to be made considering a graduate from a major conservatory of music who had just won a major competition, and who had, over years of arduous schooling, continually exhibited the ethic of ‘hard work’ and maintained an unwavering ‘faith’ in his/her ability over the years – you could say the statement is surely correct.

It is none the less correct when the winner of the major competition is a girl, age twelve, who is being home schooled, has had but one teacher, her Grandma, and has a simple goal, that is "To be the greatest pianist in the world".

While the goal would be seen by some to be the unrealistic dream of some kid who just doesn’t know how the world works; don’t try telling that to Anastasia Rizikov of Ontario, Canada, who recently won the prestigious 18th Concurso Internacional de Piano Rotary (18th Rotary Internacional Piano Competition) in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

The competition took place in mid-May, attracting about 40 competitors in two categories. B category players were to age 16 and required only 20 minutes of music. Category A players ages 17 to 28 (there were 26 in this category), was open to professional pianists, teachers, and students of high education.  Much more repertoire and playing time was required.

Anastasia, choosing to compete in the older "A" Category, stated, "My grandmother (grandmother is Maia Spis, a Master of Music Education graduate and a teacher at the Nadia Music Academy in Toronto), and I really didn’t come to this competition to win. We were going to compete with mature adult pianists with tons of experience and knowledge.  I had just as much chance to win as everybody else".  Not only that, she had the repertoire and confidence to go with it. "On the first day, we saw 20 contestants leave the competition and only six of us stayed for round II.  For Round III, another three contestants had left – so I was sure that third place would be mine.  I didn’t expect to be first!  These three days were exhausting – but ultimately worth it!" 

The judges were unanimous in their decision.

Anastasia is no newcomer to the world of competition.  At age seven, repesenting Canada, she won the Vladimir Horowitz International Young Pianists Competition in Kiev, Ukraine.  She also received a special award for Best Artistic Performance and made her orchestral debut, performing Polunin’s Concertino in A Minor with the National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine.

Beside her first place wins at the Canadian Music Competition and the Canadian Chopin Competition, in 2010 she won first place in the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition for Young People, and in the American Protege 2010 International Piano and Strings Competition, performing in New York’s Carnegie Hall.  She had previously performed at Carnegie Hall after winning first place in the 2009 Bradsaw & Buono International Piano Competition.

You get the idea.

Anastasia will be returning to Spain (dates TBA) for a solo recital tour and a performance with the Baleares Symphony Orchestra.  These performances, along with a sum of money, were part of her first prize in the Concurso International de Piano Rotary.

Anastasia has played concertos with orchestras in Canada, Europe and the USA and is actively seeking concerto invitations from orchestras who would recognize the excellence and audience appeal she would bring to their programs.  After all, how often will they be able to say they have engaged the girl "who will be the greatest pianist in the world".

Alvin H. Williams III