CAPC Definition of “Amateur”

Historically, one of the first challenges of the CAPC was to define the word “amateur” as it related to “amateur pianists”. The following was used to clarify the meaning of the word “amateur”.

The word ‘amateur’ is derived from the Latin word ‘amo’ which means ‘to love’. PianoForte Foundation has defined ‘amateur pianist’ to mean an enthusiastic pursuer of piano playing for pleasure and dedication to the instrument and its repertoire, rather than for professional pursuits or financial benefits.


The Chicago Amateur Competition (CAPC) was founded in 2009 by the Pianoforte Foundation, with the first event taking place in June 2010.  It is a biennial competition, held in Chicago during the summer of “even years”. The goal of this competition has been to gradually transition it into an “International event” for outstanding amateur pianists accepting outstanding amateurs from around the globe.

Thus the CAPC has developed uniquely different and enriched programtracks of events at each competition which, in turn,  guarantees  participants new and exciting challenges every two years.

 The CAPC was initially modeled after the earlier successful Van Cliburn and Boston competitions.  However, there have been several unique characteristics of this competition as it has evolved.

  1. In addition to a solo piano competition, the 2012 and 2014 competitions included a concerto competition, in which winners  performed a concerto movement with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.
  1. In 2014, the CAPC instituted a “two track” classical solo system, whereby competitors could choose to perform only 2 rounds rather than the standard 3 rounds.  This appealed to amateur pianists with a more limited repertory.
  2. In 2016, CAPC will include for the first time at an amateur competition a “modern track”, in which competitors can perform non-classical styles such as jazz, blues, salsa, etc..

History of Amateur Piano Competitions

The first amateur competition, the Concours des Grands Amateurs de Piano, was begun in 1989 by Gérard Bekerman.  A decade later the Van Cliburn Foundation instituted the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, which is held in Fort Worth Texas.  Shortly thereafter Robert Finley founded the Boston Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs.  There have been many more competitions since – in the US, amateur competitions are held in Washington, Colorado, and Seattle, in addition to Chicago.  All of these competitions are designed for top-level amateurs.

The Competitors

Competitors come from all walks of life – doctors, office workers, lawyers, students, pensioners, engineers, to name just a few.  Most have an age limit of 30yrs or older so competitors will not be competing against young students but rather people that have pursued a career other than music yet continued a passion for the piano.

The Future of CAPC

As the CAPC moves towards becoming a world class amateur piano competition, it strives to engage judges and competitors from around the world while maintaining a connectivity with Chicago.  We seek to extend opportunities for competitors with stronger platforms every two years that will engage amateur pianists, audiences and music lovers long into the future.