About Us

The Virginia Waring International Piano Competition

The Virginia Waring International Piano Competition (aka The Waring) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Tax ID # 33-0025613, located in Palm Desert, California.

The Waring brings classical piano music to the California Desert through outreach concerts to schools, the community and by hosting eight days of an international piano competition every other year with participants coming from around the world.

All first rounds of the Competition are free to the public, with low ticket prices for the Solo Finals and the Concerto Finals with Orchestra. Performance opportunities and cash prizes are awarded to the winners.

Contestants participate in both solo and concerto events as well as Master Classes in each age category.  Winners have earned performance opportunities in Vienna, London, Rome, Carnegie Hall (NYC), Florida, Denver, Snowmass, San Francisco, as well as Palm Springs and Palm Desert, California.

A special category in the Senior Division was devoted to performances of the music of Ernst Krenek, the Austrian composer who for many years made the desert his home.  Sponsored by the Krenek Society and the composer’s widow, the winner in this category performed in Vienna and in Steyr, Austria.

In 2011, The Waring began offering a John Bayless prize for the Junior and Intermediate Divisions. And in 2017 the Senior division will include a Best Earl Wild Transcription prize.

Venue Partners for the Competition are the Indian Wells Theater on the Palm Desert Campus of the California State University, San Bernardino and  The McCallum Theatre. Community support includes a large cadre of volunteers who provide housing for competitors and transportation and other services throughout the competition.  The Competition is governed by an active Board of Directors.

Major support comes from The Annenberg Foundation, the HN and Frances C. Berger Foundation, the McCarthy Family Foundation and from JoAnn McGrath and her Foundation.  Education Sponsor is Wells Fargo – the Private Bank. Presenting sponsor is The City of Palm Desert.  The competition has also received support from The Cities of Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta. Additional support has come from the Sirpuhe & John Conte Foundation, the Philibosian Foundation, Highland Street Foundation and from philanthropists Harold Matzner, Donna MacMillan and JoAnn McGrath. Numerous competition awards are underwritten by local patrons and foundations. Steinway is the official competition piano, serviced through SoCal Pianos of Palm Desert.

In 2015 John Bayless was named Artistic Director after Dr. Patricia Taylor Lee retired, having served since 2004.