It wasn’t just beautiful music that had people swooning and crying over the weekend at a piano competition: It was extreme heat in a building that didn’t offer relief.
It was 90 degrees in San Jose, California, Saturday and, unfortunately for the competitors and spectators of the San Jose International Piano Competition, there was no air conditioning inside.
The situation became too much for Italian competitor Sebastian Di Bin. Mid-song, Di Bin stopped, slouched a bit and wiped his hands and face before taking to the keys to continue a Beethoven sonata, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Shortly afterward though, he stopped again, looked toward the audience and said he could not continue.
The musician then turned back to the piano and put his head on his arm over the keys. Someone rushed in to help him off the stage.
“He was sweating profusely; his eyes were rolling up into his head a little bit. He did not lose consciousness, but I could say that he was wavering,” Scott Ellner who was a the Le Petit Trianon theater Saturday told KPIX-TV.
Watch the moment Di Bin wobbled at the piano bench in KPIX’s report:
There ended up being a doctor in the audience — described by the event’s co-founder Dan Morgan as “a shy guy [who] probably doesn’t want his name in the paper” — who evaluated Di Bin in the hall’s green room. The pianist was dehydrated and suffering heat exhaustion, according to KPIX.
“We were all really shocked,” Morgan told the Mercury News. “People were crying.”
But thanks to the doctor’s help, Di Bin recovered quickly and was well enough to not only continue in the competition but he went on to stun the crowd with the quality of his performance after such an incident.
“It was a phenomenal performance of an extremely difficult piece to play, along with a Chopin rondo and a Liszt sonata. It was one of the best performances we’ve seen in 15 years, and the judges were completely blown away,” Morgan told the newspaper.
The 32-year-old pianist won the gold medal from judges, which comes with a $5,000 check, as well as the audience’s vote, which is an additional $500 prize.