Japanese pianists take top spots at Brahms contest

Japanese pianists took the top three places in their category at the 26th International Johannes Brahms Competition in Poertschach, Austria.

The contest, named after the famed 19th-century German composer, is seen as a gateway to success for young artists. The other categories in this year's competition were violin, chamber music, and voice.

On Saturday, 30-year-old Misako Mihara was named the winner in the piano category. Shiho Ojima took the second prize, followed by Fuko Ishii in third.

Mihara is a graduate of music schools in Germany and Austria, but is now based in Japan. She played Brahms's Piano Concerto No.1 in the final.

She said she had wanted to play the piece for many years, and felt like it was a dream come true even during rehearsals. She said she will keep performing so that more people can discover the joy of music.

Japanese soprano Aiko Sakurai finished second in the voice category. She said the result came as a surprise to her. She said she'd now like to live abroad, apparently with the aim of testing her skill and improving her performance.