And we're done with the prelims! We're all waiting for the software to tabulate the judges' results. I've found that in the past, word of the selections tends to filter to the press room some minutes before they're announced onstage in Bass Hall. I wonder whether I should be one of the first to find out, or whether I should wait in the hall and be surprised.
It's time for me to pick my 12 choices for the semifinalists, and wow, my job is easy this year. There are exactly 12 pianists whom I like much better than the rest of the field. There's no agonizing, no borderline picks, nobody I'm putting on the list just to make up the numbers. In the order that they played in the first round, my semifinal picks are Stephen Beus, Spencer Myer, Eduard Kunz, Di Wu, Michail Lifits, Alessandro Deljavan, Mariangela Vacatello, Evgeni Bozhanov, Ang Li, Andrea Lam, Zhang Haochen, and Mayumi Sakamoto. Please note that these are not predictions as to who'll advance. My list of favorites tends to bear little resemblance to the actual roster of semifinalists. This is only who I'd choose if I had a vote. I have an uneasy feeling that the groundswell for Nobuyuki Tsujii will be too difficult for the judges to resist, but we'll see. I'll be back with the names of the semifinalists.