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June 23, 2017

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Pianist and soprano win classical music contest

A weeklong competition that introduced features of "American Idol" to the world of classical music ended with cash awards totaling US$268,000 (nearly euro200,000).

Rufus Choi of Los Angeles won the piano competition and a US$50,000 (euro37,000) check, and soprano Karen Slack of Philadelphia took home her own US$50,000 Saturday night for winning the vocal category in the Jose Iturbi International Music Competition.

Anastasia Markina of Russia was second in the piano competition, and David Lomeli of Mexico was second in the vocal competition. Both won US$25,000 (euro19,000).

The contest at the University of California, Los Angeles, featured pianists and singers from 14 countries and was among the richest in the world. Taking a cue from "Idol," the popular singing competition television show, the public was invited to attend the competition for free and vote for its favorite.

Choi, 30, was given the People's Choice award and an additional US$10,000 (euro7,400). Choi graduated from the Juilliard School and has performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

Slack, 31, recently made her Carnegie Hall debut in Tchaikovsky's "Maid of Orleans," a role she performed last summer with the San Francisco Opera.

Lomeli won the vocal People's Choice award and another US$10,000 (euro7,400).

The competition's sponsor, the Jose Iturbi Foundation, is named for the renowned concert pianist who appeared in several MGM musicals in the 1940s.

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