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General Rules and Eligibility 

  • The Ottawa Piano Festival is open to all students residing in the Ottawa/Gatineau area up to the age of 18. Exceptions: Open class (open to students of any age, within the guidelines for this class), Duets over 18 and Concerto over 18. Participants must not be older than the age category in which they register (if registering for an age-based class), as of January 1st 2024.
  • Participants may not register in two different age or grade categories. For example, a student participating in Grade 7 piano class may not also participate in Grade 6 class.
  • Participants may only register one time in each class each year.
  • Once a participant has entered one grade, he/she may not enter a lower grade in future years. Should a student decide to participate in a class at a level lower than his/her most recent exam level or current piano level, he/she will only receive comments for his/her participation.
  • Ottawa Piano Festival reserves the right to place a student according to submitted information and participant’s level entered in the past festival years.
  • Requests for further clarification of these rules may be made in writing to the Ottawa Piano Festival.
  • In light of the constantly changing restrictions related to the spread of Covid-19 or alike pandemics, the Ottawa Piano Festival reserves the right to switch to virtual format.
  • NEW: Participants or members of the public may not contact or speak with the adjudicators while they are still active in the Festival (example: detailed introduction of a piece to be performed or questions and/or comments directed to adjudicators). Any violation of this rule may result in disqualification. “Disqualification” means the participant won’t be eligible for scholarships nor standings and will receive comments only.

Repertoire Guidelines 

  • Participants are expected to play a minimum of two contrasting pieces in each solo class. Exceptions: a single piece is allowed in Duets, Family Duets and Miscellaneous classes, and participants in Concerto classes are expected to play one selection only. Contrasting pieces would ensure that the pieces are in different time periods, styles, tempi and composers. It is always safer to choose pieces from the different RCM or CC time periods (i.e. choose two pieces from different time periods and/or styles).
  • Once a piece has been performed in the festival, it may not be performed in a subsequent year.
  • NEW: Participants should follow the time limits, indicated under Classes. Total performance times include applause and pauses, and will be strictly enforced. The adjudicators reserve the right to stop a performance if the pianist exceeds the allotted class time and may not evaluate the exceeded performance time. Any participant who fails to comply with this rule won’t be eligible for standings (gold/silver/bronze/merit), nor awards.
  • Repeats are optional, but not required, as long as they fit within the time limits.
  • The level of graded classes should correspond to the levels of the Royal Conservatory of Music Toronto, Conservatory Canada or any other officially recognized Canadian syllabus. Chosen repertoire does not have to be from a syllabus, but has to be of the approximate difficulty of the chosen grade.
  • One piece from the next level higher is permitted in solo classes.
  • NEW: No repertoire changes or substitutions will be allowed after the registration has been submitted to the festival, which should be done no later than January 15, 2024. New pieces cannot be added to the already submitted repertoire. However, we will allow deletion of any of the registered piece(s) after the deadline, provided that the number of submitted pieces is in accordance with the repertoire guidelines and that the request is coordinated with the festival administration by email.
  • NEW: Participants are not allowed to perform pieces that are not listed in their registration form or/and in the festival’s website program. The festival and/or adjudicators reserve the right to stop the performance. Adjudicators may not evaluate any substituted piece(s). A violation to this rule may result in participants not being eligible for scholarships nor standings, and will only receive comments from adjudicators.
  • Memorization is encouraged, and is mandatory for any student wishing to be considered for a scholarship or other prize. Exceptions: Duets, Family Duets and Miscellaneous.
  • Concertos must be performed with piano accompaniment. Any movement may be performed as long as it is within the time limits. Performers are responsible for providing their own accompanist and for adhering to current Covid-19 or alike pandemics protocols.

Copies of Scores for Adjudicators

  • This year we ask for 3 copies of each piece for Preparatory, Grades 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, Duets, Family Duets and Miscellaneous, and 2 copies for Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Diploma, Open and Concertos.  In all classes at least 1 of those must be an original score. A score will be considered original when a copyrighted book is presented, or a downloaded and printed piece is presented with the purchase receipt. Music that is in the public domain, and therefore available to be downloaded for free, must have the IMSLP listing attached (visit to print a screen shot). Scores should be presented to the front desk at check-in.
  • NEW: please note that in absence of an original copy the student will not be considered for scholarships.

Provincial Festival Finals

  • Participants may be recommended to advance to the Provincial Festival Finals, which is available to all classes with the exception of Preparatory and Family Duets. Students must be prepared to meet the criteria of the Ontario Music Festival Association. Decisions of the adjudicators regarding provincial recommendations are final.
  • The Provincial Festival Finals will be held in June 2024 and are virtual for Grades 1-5, Concertos, Duets and Miscellaneous, and live for grades 6-Open in Oakville and Burlington. Participants in Grades 1-5, Concertos, Duets and Miscellaneous will be responsible for submitting their videos.  All participants are responsible for covering all fees, and must approve their programs with the Ottawa Piano Festival before submission

Evaluation and Results

  • As a community festival run by volunteers, we encourage teachers of participating students to be involved in the adjudication process for a minimum of two and a maximum of four classes in grades Preparatory to Grade 5. Grades 6-9 and Junior/Intermediate Concerto classes will be adjudicated by Pierre-Richard Aubin and Haewon Yang and grades 10, Diploma, Open and Senior Concerto classes will be adjudicated by Louise Bessette  and Fiona Jane Watson. Please note that teachers have other volunteer opportunities available to be performed at the festival (info desk, music collection, etc.).
  • Each class (except Grade 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Diploma, Open and Concerto) will be evaluated by three adjudicators (participating teachers) whenever possible.
  • Adjudicators will not evaluate their own students or family members.
  • Decisions of the jury are final. No appeals or reviews will be accepted.
  • The Ottawa Piano Festival awards Gold/Silver/Bronze/Merit standings to our participant. We don’t hand out 1st/2nd/3rd places. Each certificate represents a level of quality, and so several students can receive a Gold, and the same with other standings.
  • Participants will be issued comment sheets and certificates at the end of the class.
  • Marks are not given to participants in order to discourage an unnecessarily competitive atmosphere. They are kept by the OPF administration in order to give out medals and scholarships.
  • Comments only option: the participant will be considered non-competitive, which means s/he will receive a full adjudication and participation certificate, but will not be eligible for a scholarship nor receive a placement (gold/silver/bronze). If you prefer non-competitive, comments only participation, please contact us to let us know.

Scholarships, Awards and Medals

  • Outstanding performers will be considered for scholarships, awards and medals. Participants must receive a minimum standing of silver in order to qualify for a scholarship. Participants must receive a minimum standing of gold to receive a medal. These are determined by marks given by the adjudicators, and kept by the festival administration. The number of scholarships awarded will be based on available funds.
  • Promising Student Award is designed for students in grade 3 to 8 who demonstrate something special in their playing which deserves encouragement.
  • Medals are awarded to the student(s) with the highest mark in each class, within the gold standing. Medals will be distributed at the Gala.
  • Scholarships will be given out at the Gala.

Special Awards

  • Best performers of the J.S.Bach pieces will be invited to participate at The Great Bach Marathon, organized by the Royal Canadian Collage of Organists Ottawa Centre on Saturday, May 11, 2024 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 82 Kent Street.
  • Concerto Classes – A participant receiving the highest mark in concertos, will be chosen to perform with the Divertimento Orchestra. Eligible concerto movements must be within 8-12 minutes (including all tutti parts) – TBC.
  • Four participants selected from Grades 9, 10, Diploma and Open classes will be selected to play at the Beaverbrook Community Concert Series (one piece played at the OPF) on Sunday, May 26 at 3:00pm, at Kanata United Church, 33 Leacock Dr., Kanata.


  • The Ottawa Piano Festival will ask permission at the time of registration to use any photos/videos of participants for the festival website, its media and for publicity purposes.
  • Participating families are allowed to take photos/videos of their own children, and are not allowed to take photos/videos of other participants nor adjudicators without their permission.

Cancellations and Refunds

  • The Ottawa Piano Festival will not provide refunds after the registration deadline January 15, 2024.