First online competitor


Katarina Stolarov (Serbia) entered the history of music competitions as the first competitor to participate in an online competition and her competitive video performance was evaluated by an international jury directly from the site!

Facebook appeared in 2004, Twitter in 2006. Viber was founded in the beginning, and Instagram in October 2010. In 2009, the idea of organizing a music competition that took place entirely online appeared.

The original idea of the online competition involved moving the live performance from the concert hall to an online platform and bringing the atmosphere of the “live” competition as close as possible to the online format. And by the end of 2009, the slogan appeared on our online competition website:


For the first time in the history of music competitions for students of schools, colleges and conservatories, as well as for participants without age restrictions, back in 2010, we united and organized a competition for all instruments in one place (website) thanks to the Internet.


And now, 15 years later, the competition has become world famous and popular among classical music musicians, it’s time to do an interview with our first contestant.

Question: Katarina, how did you feel when a teacher in 2009 invited you to record a video to participate in the world’s first online competition and that you would be evaluated by jury members from around the world via the Internet?

Answer: For me, a thirteen-year-old, who by that time already participated in various competitions, this form of interpretation definitely represented a new challenge due to its innovative format. However, with my teacher, with whom I had terrific communication and whom I trust immensely, as they were always supportive of me, I was excited and looked forward to this demanding challenge.

Question: One of the main conditions of our competition is that the competitor, before performing the competition program, announces themself (name, surname, year of birth, name of the competition) and all this must be in one take. Did it add extra excitement to your performance? After all, you had to not only perform a competitive program, but also beautifully announce yourself?

Answer: Because of the overall atmosphere in the hall where we were filming the performance, I remember it with a smile on my face! The feeling was unusual because I was already accustomed to a certain routine, so I must admit that the introduction took me out of my comfort zone a little, but after a few attempts before filming, I managed to adapt and later concentrate on my performance. I am actually very grateful for this practice, as this was good training for my future competitions, because I had the opportunity to compete under the same circumstances in Austria, which were then already familiar to me due to the experience of online competitions.

Question: In 2009, a cell phone with a camera was very rare. An operator with professional equipment was invited to record. How did you feel in this extraordinary, unusual ambient for you? Was it difficult for you to concentrate on performing the competition program when a cameraman was standing opposite you and recording your performance?

Answer: At that time, long recordings with quality sound via phones were nearly impossible. In front of me there was a whole apparatus with a lot of cables, microphone, camera, and of course a cameraman, in front of whom I felt even greater responsibility and a desire to play the best I possibly could right from the start. It helped me to think of the cameraman as the new member of the jury, because I still clung to old habits and familiar feelings of competitions. Despite searching for something familiar and already experienced, at the beginning it was still difficult for me to remain fully present while playing and not focus on the camera, but over time, I managed to adapt and use the camera as an auxiliary tool!

Question: What feeling did you have when you first saw your performance on the competition website and then compared it with the performance of other contestants?

Answer: Since my video material was used for competition purposes for the first time, I felt a certain amount of excitement, but also confidence because I had prepared my musical and scenic performance for a long time. Watching the videos of other competitors, it was obvious that the competition was strong from the very first competition, and the response was great, as well as the international character of the competition, which helped me compare the different approaches of musicians from different countries.

Question: In the Archive section of our website, you can still find your first video performance, from almost 15 years ago. As an experienced teacher you are today, how does it feel to watch and listen to yourself when you were still an aspiring music student?

Answer: I listened to my performance again after a long time a few years ago, and the feeling was great because I can use that recording as a pedagogical example and as a comparison between my playing then and the playing of my students, that are the same age as I were at the time of recording. Today, as a teacher, I have the opportunity to evaluate, correct, criticize both negatively and positively, and the recording from the 2009 competition is a great reminder on the part of the journey my students are going through now.

Question: Our organizational team was pleasantly surprised when we saw an application from a contestant from Austria, and you listed as his teacher, on our website. Can you tell us briefly about yourself professionally?

Answer: Nurturing the culture of competition is an important and also challenging discipline for some young pianists. One of my students wanted to try their hand at an online competition, so based on my experience and excellent functioning of this competition, we decided on the Online World Music Competition! I consider music pedagogy my calling, and I see pedagogical work with both younger and older musicians as an excellent field of the music world in which both the student and the teacher can always progress, grow, and develop their musical knowledge and skills together. That is why I decided to continue my piano-pedagogical education at the University of Music in Vienna (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien), and I am currently completing my masters studies in the class of Professor Roman Zaslavsky. My current studies and pedagogical work are accompanied by various solo and chamber concerts. Recently I had the opportunity to become a member of the ensemble, the new project Vienna Art Nouveau Orchestra with which I recorded an upcoming album titled «Lidia Baich and Vienna Art Nouveau Orchestra — The Other Seasons (Aleksey Igudesmann)».

First online competitor

Online platforms have truly changed the way artists share their talents, providing a global stage for performers from all corners of the world.