Ellicott City doctor wins Van Cliburn Competition for amateur pianists
Christopher Shih, a gastroenterologist in Ellicott City, won the sixth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs presented by the Van Cliburn Foundation on Sunday in Fort Worth. He competed in a field of 70 amateur pianists from 10 countries. The first prize is $2,000, but the high profile of the competition is worth a good deal more. Dr. Shih also won the Audience Award and Best Performance of a Work from the Romantic Era.
Dr. Shih, who has degrees from Harvard and Johns Hopkins, is a partner with the Maryland Digestive Disease Center, a division of Capital Digestive Care. He has won prizes at several other amateur competitions. Before embarking on a medical career, he competed in the tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The doctor recently gave a pre-competition recital for the Candlelight Concert Society at Howard Community College.
The International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, was the first of its kind in the U.S. when it was established in 1999. It is open to pianists age 35 and older who do not make their living from playing or teaching the piano. Those competing in 2011 represented a wide variety of professions, from lawyer and architect to retired dancer and Formula One race car designer.
Here's an example of Dr. Shih's remarkable musicianship, filmed at another event for amateur pianists: