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Classical Piano

Des Moines Area Piano Festival

The fifth annual event will be held on Sunday, February 25, 2024 at the Salisbury House & Gardens in Des Moines.


Information and Registration

12:45 p.m., Sunday, February 26, 2024
Salisbury House & Gardens (4025 Tonawanda Drive, Des Moines IA 50312)


Presented by: Mobile Music Lessons

Sponsored by: Museum of Danish AmericaSalisbury House & GardensWest Music Des Moines Piano Gallery


Thank you for your interest in the 2024 Des Moines Area Piano Festival, a professionally-adjudicated performance opportunity for students in a friendly, welcoming environment.

About the Festival:

The fifth annual Festival will be held at 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, February 25, 2024 at the Salisbury House & Gardens. Pianists in grades K-12 from the Des Moines metro area (Des Moines and all surrounding suburbs) are invited to participate. The Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition will be held in conjunction with the Des Moines Area Piano Festival. Total 2024 participants will be capped at 58. In the case of inclement weather, the Festival may switch to a virtual platform. 


12:45-3:20 p.m.: Auditions (including Victor Borge Legacy Award auditions)

3:30-4 p.m.: Master Class with adjudicator

4-4:30 p.m.: Seminar with adjudicator

4:30 p.m.: Announcement of the winners of the Victor Borge Legacy Award


To register, please complete the following steps: 

1. Fill out the registration form.

2. Pay the $30 registration fee (payable at or via the link on the registration form).  The registration fee includes an audition on a Steinway piano, adjudication scoring/comments and a participation ribbon, and access to the seminars by the adjudicators. The registration form and payment must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 9 before a student is registered to participate in the 2024 Des Moines Area Piano Festival and/or the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition. Participants will be notified of their audition time by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, February 19. All performance times are final and no refunds will be offered. 

We are pleased to provide a limited number of scholarships to cover the registration fee. These are available to students with financial need on a first-come, first-served basis. Please email by Thursday, Feb. 1 with a brief description of why your student/child should be considered. 

Audition Information: 

Please arrive early for your assigned audition time and enter and exit quietly to respect fellow participants. You are welcome to stay and listen to others' auditions. All are encouraged to stay for the seminars (see schedule above). All entrants should bring their score (with measures numbered) to the audition.



Memorization is required for participants in the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition, as winners must perform memorized in a future winners' recital (Sunday, April 21, 2024) and memorization is a critical component of professional piano careers.


Memorization is not required for the regular division of the Festival, although it will be part of the adjudication criteria. Entrants that do not memorize their pieces should still bring a score with numbered measures to the audition.

Adjudication Criteria & Evaluation:

All participants will be evaluated by a professional adjudicator and will receive a rating, comments and a participation ribbon corresponding to their score. Each student will begin with a technical exercise (below) and then perform a piece that showcases the student's current playing level.


Each audition is a maximum of five minutes total per student (including technique, for the regular and Victor Borge divisions). Memorization is not required for the regular division, although memorization is part of the adjudication criteria, which may be viewed here. Memorization is required for both the technical and repertoire components of the Victor Borge portion. The rating and comments will be sent to the student's instructor shortly after the Festival. 

Technical Exercise Requirements:

Please consult with your student's instructor regarding your student's current playing level. Scales and cadence patterns are to be in the key of the audition piece and memorized if competing in the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition. The audition will progress in the following order: scale, cadence pattern, audition piece.

  • Beginner: Play a one-octave scale and a I-V7-I cadence pattern with both hands (chords may be simplified).

  • Intermediate: Play a two-octave scale and a I-IV-I-V7-I cadence pattern with both hands. 

  • Advanced: Play a four-octave scale and a I-IV-I-V7-I cadence pattern with both hands.

Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition: 

If the participating Piano Festival entrant is at an advanced playing level and in grades 8-12, they are invited to participate in the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition at the 2024 Des Moines Area Piano Festival. No additional repertoire is required, and the student will be adjudicated as part of his/her Piano Festival audition. Victor Borge entrants must memorize their technical exercises and repertoire piece.


Previous second place Victor Borge Legacy Award winners are eligible to enter; previous first place Legacy Award winners are ineligible to enter. First and second place winners will receive an award of $1,000 and $500, respectively, which will be given to the winners after they perform at least two memorized, classical pieces (10 minutes total) in a recital (Sunday, April 21, 2024) on the Victor Borge piano at the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa. Failure to perform in the recital will result in forfeiting the award money. In addition, winners will submit a 500-word essay about the legacy of Victor Borge (by TBD April 2024), which will be judged by a panel that includes Borge's daughter, Janet Borge Crowle, for an additional $500 cash prize.

Funding for the Victor Borge Legacy Award is provided through a generous gift from R. James and Janet Borge Crowle, Saint Michaels, Maryland. Additional support provided by the Charles W. and Norma J. Wilson Foundation and the Eric & Joan Norgaard Charitable Trust.



With questions, please email Des Moines Area Piano Festival Director Sophia S. Ahmad at or Managing Director Brittany Brugman at

Follow @DSMPianoFestival:

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2023 Adjudicators (2024 adjudicators will be announced by early 2024)

Rene Lecuona.jpg

Dr. Réne Lecuona

Adjudicator, Victor Borge Legacy Award

Dr. Réne Lecuona has been praised by critics in Germany, the UK, and the US for her chamber music interpretations and solo performances: “The imagery of the music is perfectly conveyed by Vogel and Lecuona in an inspired performance… this is chamber music at its best” (; “As throughout the entire album, Lecuona’s performance is magnificent…” (David Murray: Bass World); “Lecuona’s interpretation of Mozart was outstanding…” (Daily Iowan). Dr. Lecuona has performed throughout South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in Weill Recital Hall with mezzo-soprano Katherine Eberle and in the Goodman Hall at Lincoln Center with soprano Rachel Joselson. Her playing has been featured on many compact discs, including a recording of the music of Margaret Brouwer (CRI label), which won the 2000 Contemporary Art Music Burton Award. She may be heard on Centaur Records, Innova Recordings, Capstone Records, Cybele Recording, Albany Records, and Composers Recordings International.

Dr. Lecuona is professor of piano at The University of Iowa. A devoted teacher, Réne has prepared students for admission and scholarship in performance programs at prestigious institutions such as the New England Conservatory, the University of Michigan, Florida State University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, Peabody Conservatory, and Aspen Music Festival. Her former students hold teaching posts in Germany and Brazil as well as in the U.S.

Réne Lecuona earned a doctor of musical arts degree in piano performance and was awarded a performer’s certificate at the Eastman School of Music. She received undergraduate and master's degrees at the Indiana University School of Music. Her major teachers have included Menahem Pressler of the Beaux Arts Trio, the late György Sebök, Edward Auer, Shigeo Neriki, and Rebecca Penneys. Réne was raised in Corning, New York and studied piano for many years with Laurie Conrad of Ithaca, New York. She lives in Coralville, Iowa with her husband Andrew and their son Sebastian.

Marion Scott_edited.jpg

Dr. Marion Scott

Adjudicator, Des Moines Area Piano Festival

Dr. Marion Wilkinson Scott made his debut at the age of 14 under the baton of Roger Nuremberg. In 2006, his musicality and technical prowess earned first prize at the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition and second prize at the Zimmerli Foundation International Piano Competition. Dr. Scott was also named the winner of the 2010 International Piano Competition hosted by the Steinway Society of Massachusetts. He has given concerts both nationally and internationally.


In addition to solo performance, Dr. Scott is an enthusiast for chamber music playing and has performed in noted concert halls such as Carnegie Hall, Kilbourn Hall, and Crouse Hall. He has also performed at Music Festivals such as the Brevard Music Festival, the renowned Pianofest in the Hamptons, and the Joseph Gingold Chamber Music Festival among others. He actively performs with his wife, Rosa Villar-Córdova Scott, as a piano duo. Dr. Scott holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in performance from the Eastman School of Music, a Master of Music Degree from the Juilliard School and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Frost School of Music. He is currently the Music Director at St. Augustin Catholic Church in Des Moines, Iowa.

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