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Grace Schwab Wins Kiwanis Piano Competition

Lafayette, CO April 14th, 2019

Boulder High School Junior Grace Schwab added another honor to her already impressive concert piano career with a win at the "Foothills Kiwanis Club 67th Annual Stars of Tomorrow Youth Talent Show" held this weekend at the Muse Music Center in Lafayette.This was her second consecutive win at the prestigious event and will present her with another opportunity to compete at the Regional Championships to be held this year in Laramie, Wyoming next month.

Last year, Grace won both the local and regional competitions, and took home $750 in scholarship money. This year, there is $1250 available for the winner of the regional competition.

“This year I am really focused on my studies whereas last year I was focused a lot on my piano competitions,” said Schwab. “This was one of the first competitions I am doing this year and I am planning on doing three more,” she continued. “I am really excited to go to the next level because you get college scholarships for winning!”

Grace refined her competitive piano chops last year in the Boulder High Concerto Competition, besting a field of 20 contestants for the opportunity to perform a solo with the Boulder High Orchestra at an all-school assembly.

The piece I played (Piano Concerto in A minor Op 16 by Edvard Grieg) was really hard,” she recalls. “But I wanted to play it since I was in 8. The concert was in front of the entire school, so I was really nervous! There were probably 500 people there!”

Grace counts as her favorite pianist Olga Kern, a Russian pianist who has won multiple international competitions. She won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001, being the first woman to do so in over 30 years. “I saw her perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #1 in Denver,” says Grace. “My piano teacher knows her, and I am planning on taking a master class with her.”

Besides competitive piano, Grace excels in Mock Trial and Track at Boulder High. She has competed in Mock Trial since her freshman year, and her Boulder High team qualified for state last year. The Boulder High team goal for next year is to qualify for nationals.

“Success in mock trial, very similar to track, is personal yet also teamwork-based,” explains Grace. “While my work as a lawyer on the team seems very individual, my fellow lawyers and witnesses give me tips and support throughout the trial, and especially during the months of preparation beforehand.”

Grace’s array of extracurricular activities require similar skills. “All of these activities require extensive practice to get the optimal timing, mental agility, and focus during the performance,” says Grace. “I find that ‘stage presence’ is not spontaneous. It is thoughtfully rehearsed and actually assists me in delivering an optimal performance. While track and piano have elements of auto-pilot once I have prepared sufficiently.”

“The rigor of and diligent preparation enables me to bring a confident stage presence to the activities, and the unplanned aspects give me a shot of adrenaline that helps me stay focused on the ultimate goal.”

“I find that I relish the extemporaneous moments too. For example, in mock trial, the lines of questioning from the judge and lawyers are unknown, which requires thinking on my feet. In long piano performances, I inevitably land on the wrong keys, which requires quick corrections without getting flustered and losing the timing. In track, I must confront circumstances of the race that I cannot anticipate (how I’m feeling that day, the weather, the competition, the lane I’m in).”

Even with her various extracurricular activities, her main focus is still academics and her goal is to be accepted to Yale next year. To that end, she is making plans to audition for the music school at Yale this fall.

“I really like writing so I might major in English Literature, she says. “But I would like to minor in music.”

With regards to her writing, she placed third nationally in the Daughters of the American Revolution writing contest last year. “I was extremely happy about this,” says Grace. “This essay contest is always interesting, because it is a convergence of both writing and history - two of my favorite areas of study. I also write for the Boulder High school newspaper. Next year I'm hoping to be editor in cheif."

to be editor in chief.”

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