SAN JOSE -- Talk about beautiful music making you swoon.

It was the final round of the 15th annual San Jose International Piano Competition and Italian classical pianist Sebastian Di Bin was knee-deep into the third movement of a Beethoven sonata when the lights went out.

His lights.

"The theater has no AC and it was blistering hot on stage Saturday afternoon, and he was dehydrated and he fainted," said Dan Morgan, who along with wife, Irina, co-founded the internationally acclaimed event, held each year in downtown San Jose at a small concert hall called Le Petit Trianon. "He was slumped over the keyboard."

Fortunately, there was a doctor in the house, "one of our big supporters who's a shy guy and probably doesn't want his name in the paper," Morgan said Sunday. "But he took Sebastian to the green room, got him to sit up and got him water, and kept checking his dehydration levels and his heart rate."

Morgan said there were 150 audience members on hand for the playoff round between Di Bin and two other pianists in the advanced category who'd been whittled down from a starting count of 22 -- and seeing the pianist go limp mid-Beethoven was scary.

"We were all really shocked," Morgan said. "People were crying. But after a while, he came back and finished the piece. 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."


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Di Bin, 32, not only won the gold medal, which carries a $5,000 prize but later won another $500 prize that the audience votes on.

"We're so pleased that everything turned out OK," Morgan said. "Usually you only see things like this in the movies."

Staff writer Richard Scheinin contributed to this report. Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689 or follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc.