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Utah State professor Elzbieta Bilicka is slated to take the stage at Hilton Head International Piano Competition in March 2022. Out of 165 applicants from 28 countries, Bilicka was one of 20 chosen to perform.

Bilicka said she felt happy when she discovered she was selected for this competition.

“It’s nice to feel appreciated, always,” she said. “I probably feel a little stressed and challenged… because I’ve done a few of these events before, I kind of know what they are all about, so I don’t have this very idealistic overview.”

Bilicka has participated in several competitions, including the International Paderewski Piano Competition in Poland back in 2016. A competition consists of several rounds with many different performers, but Bilicka explained the biggest difference between Paderewski and Hilton Head is the number of applicants who get to play in the first round.

Originally from Poland, Bilicka moved to Utah after a visit with her sister. She accepted a position on the piano faculty staff for the Caine College of the Arts in 2019 and has been living in Logan ever since. Bilicka teaches one-on-one piano sessions with her students in order to help them improve their skills.

Prior to living in Utah, she studied in Switzerland and Poland. She has been playing the piano for 23 years, starting when she was six years old.

“My sister played a little and my dad played a little. My dad was kind of self-taught; he did take a few classes but he was no professional,” she said.

She loves performing for people and participating in competitions allows her to do so. Bilicka has even participated in virtual competitions during the pandemic. Some competitions set restrictions on time or pieces, but big international competitions like Hilton Head often allow for total freedom.

“You can just choose whatever,” Bilicka said. “At this point, because I’ve been playing for a while, it’s kind of like I have a certain set of pieces in my repertoire and I just pick the ones I feel the most comfortable with.”

In addition to her teaching career, Bilicka also hopes to put herself out there and grow her solo career. Moving around has meant she has had to start fresh in several music communities, but the pandemic has changed how musicians get to know one another.

“So it’s three different countries, even two different continents, and those communities don’t always overlap. Plus, two years of my time have been the pandemic. I didn’t really have any chance to meet people from this music environment here. I’m mostly trying to put myself out there. This is my idea, my goal,” she said.

To those who love playing piano as much as Bilicka, she encouraged them to keep playing and chase their goals.

“Listen to a lot of music, good performances … be very curious, opened-minded,” she said. “Listen to good music and be self-critical. Demand a lot from yourself and see how far you can push yourself.”

{span}{span}Bilicka’s performances can be viewed on {span}YouTube {span}or can be streamed on {span}Spotify. {span}Tickets for the Hilton Head International Piano Competition can be purchased at {span} {span}starting Jan 4.

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