Eteri Andjaparidze (Chairman of the Jury, Georgia/USA) has gained international acclaim as one of the most multifaceted artists and insightful pedagogues. Her discography on Naxos, Marco Polo, and Melodia labels includes Grammy and Deutsche Schallplatten awards nominated solo albums. Andjaparidze has appeared around the globe in solo recitals, chamber programs, and as guest soloist with Montreal, Quebec, London and Oregon Symphonies, Beijing and Shanghai Philharmonics, Singapore Symphony, Russian State Symphony, Moscow State Philharmonic, Moscow Radio Symphony, Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Georgian State and Tbilisi Symphony Orchestras, under the baton of Franz-Paul Decker, James DePreist, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Valery Gergiev, Djansug Kakhidze, Dmitri Kitayenko, Michel Plasson, Vladimir Spivakov, Yuri Temirkanov, and Pascal Verrot.
Her international festival engagements have included Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, International Keyboard Festival-Institute, Mannes Sounds Festival, NYU Summer Piano Intensive, Round Top Festival-Institute, PianoSummer at New Paltz, Los Angeles International Piano Symposium, Piano Festival Northwest, Apollo Music Festival, Puerto Piano, Bermuda Piano Festival, Villa Sandra Piano Academy, Todi International Music Masters, Festival International de Colmar, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Duszniki-Zdroj International Chopin Festival, White Nights, Russian Winter, Neuhaus Piano Festival, and Autumn Tbilisi Music Festival. Her special project PianoTheatre has featured collaborative programs such as Spectral Scriabin; La boîte à joujoux by Debussy; L´histoire de Babar by Poulenc; La Voix humaine by Poulenc/Cocteau; Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev; They Got Music: Rachmaninoff and Gershwin.
Based in New York City, Andjaparidze is teaching on the piano faculties at NYU Steinhardt and Mannes School of Music. She has served as Head of the Keyboard Program and Professor of Piano at DePaul University in Chicago, the State University of New York, the Moscow and Tbilisi State Conservatoires and as Visiting Professor at Xi’an and Foshan Conservatories in China.
A Steinway Artist, Andjaparidze is founder and artistic director of an artistic/educational project AmerKlavier, the first piano performance studio named to the International Steinway Artists roster. AmerKlavier has presented myriads of thematic festivals and programs including The United Sounds of America; American Piano Forms: Sonata, Variations, Etude, Rags and Pieces; Pour le piano; Grand Piano à la Russe: A Taste of Georgia; Piano Theatre; J. S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I; Complete Piano Sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven, and Prokofiev; Complete Nocturnes by Chopin; Complete Poems by Scriabin; Complete Opera for Two Pianos and One-Piano Four/Six Hands by Rachmaninoff; Complete Concerti for Two Keyboards and Strings by J. S. Bach; Complete Piano Quartets by Brahms, and other musical offerings. Most recently, Andjaparidze has curated “Beethoven the Contemporary” Festival at NYU.
Born to a family of musicians in Tbilisi, Georgia – her father, Zurab Andjaparidze, the leading tenor with the Bolshoi Opera and mother, pianist Yvetta Bachtadze, a student of Alexander Iokheles from Konstantin Igumnov’s piano lineage – Andjaparidze studied at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire with Vera Gornostayeva, a student of Heinrich Neuhaus. The youngest participant, Andjaparidze received Fourth Prize at the Fifth Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow and was the first Soviet pianist to win a Grand Prix at the Montreal International Piano Competition. Her awards include the Order of People’s Friendship, Order of Honor, and People´s Artist of Georgia title.
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Igor Cognolato (Italy) started at the age of five his musical training with Ida Longhino; at nineteen he obtained his bachelor diploma magna cum laude in piano performance at the Academy “Benedetto Marcello” in Venice (piano) under Vincenzo Pertile and three years later his choir conducting bachelor diploma at the Academy “Felice Evaristo dall’Abaco” in Verona.
He pursued his musical education at the Academy of Music in Hanover, Germany, with the Concert Examination Diploma of Music in piano performance under Brazilian pianist Roberto Szidon: his debut followed with NDR Symphony Orchestra with Franz Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto live recorded and broadcasted. Among his teachers for composition and piano figure also Ugo Amendola, Michele Marvulli, Dario De Rosa (Trio di Trieste’s pianist), Aldo Ciccolini and Paul Badura-Skoda. Igor Cognolato has performed throughout Western Europe and the USA, with resounding success.
Soloist with numerous orchestras (Radiophilharmonie Hanover, Sofia chamber Orchestra, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Orchestra del Gran Teatro La Fenice di Venezia and Tallinn chamber Orchestra), he recorded for RAI, RAI Eurovision, NDR Radio, and for Norwegian National Radio.
Since 2009 he regularly performs together with Athenaeum Berlin Philharmonic String Quartett; they took part in the Aix-en-Provence chamber music festival and their performance of Schumann Piano Quintet op. 44 was broadcasted live for ARTE TV. Igor Cognolato is currently Professor of Piano Performance at the Academy of music “Benedetto Marcello” in Venice, after a period of eleven years spent as piano Professor at Academy of music “Giuseppe Tartini” in Trieste.
Igor Cognolato is an active promoter and organizer, being President and Artistic Director of “Amici della Musica di Treviso” association since its registration in 1995, and Vice-President of International Richard Wagner Association in Venice (Italy). In 2013 he performed as lead actor in the documentary film “Richard Wagner, diario della sinfonia ritrovata” by Gianni Di Capua, presented in the same year at “70° International Mostra del cinema di Venezia”, at Bayreuther Festspiele in Germany, and at the Library of Congress in Washington DC (USA). He has been invited to give master classes at many European universities, including Kunstuniversität Graz, Konservatorium Wien Privatuniversität, Universität Mozarteum Salzburg (Austria), Hochschule für Musik und Theater Lübeck, Hochschule für Musik und Theater Dresden (Germany), Trinity Laban College in London (UK), Conservatorio superior de musica Salvator Seguì de Castellò (Spain), Estonian Academy of Music and Theater, Rumanian national Academy of Bucharest (Rumania). He regularly holds masterclasses also for private international organizations such as Carynthian Musica Academy in Ossiach (Austria) or Talent Summer Courses in Brescia (Italy).
In May 2016 he gave a successful debut at the Berliner Philharmonie with Milan Svoboda’s Concerto Grosso, for the Berliner Philharmonic official concert series.
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Ivari Ilja (Estonia) studied at the Tallinn State Conservatoire with Professor Laine Mets and at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire with Vera Gornostayeva and Sergey Dorensky. He is an internationally recognized accompanist and ensemble musician. His collaboration with renowned singers Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Irina Arkhipova, Maria Guleghina and Elena Zaremba has been particularly successful and acclaimed. Together they have performed many of the great concert stages of the world, including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall of New York, The Kennedy Center of Washington, Davies Symphony Hall San Francisco, La Scala in Milan, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow, the great halls of St. Petersburg Philharmonic and Moscow Conservatory, Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Suntory Hall of Tokyo, Musikverein of Vienna and Mozarteum of Salzburg.
Ivari Ilja has also held solo recitals in France, United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Sweden, Finland and performed as a soloist with several symphony orchestras such as Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra etc. His repertoire mostly consists of romantic music, primarily of the works by Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, but also Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sergei Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten and others. Since 2003, he has repeatedly toured with great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the USA, Europe, Hong-Kong, Japan and elsewhere.
Ivari Ilja has been a member of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre faculty since 1986 and held the position of Head of the Piano Department from 2000 to 2015. Since 2017, Ilja has been the Rector of Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Estonian Association of Professional Musicians and President of the Estonian Music Council.
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Juris Kalnciems (Latvia) is one of the most distinguished Latvian pianists, professor and, since 2000, the head of the Piano Department of Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. After graduating from Emils Darzins Music School, he studied piano performance at Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music with Arnis Zandmanis. He continued his studies with Samvel Alumian on postgraduate level at Moscow State P. I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Kalnciems participated in several piano competitions and won first prize at the Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis Piano Competition in 1978.
Kalnciems is a knowledgeable and experienced piano teacher. He is often invited to various piano competitions as a jury member and frequently leads masterclasses in Latvia and abroad. He founded the international mobility project of higher music education institutions of Tallinn, Vilnius, Helsinki, Stockholm, Reykjavik "Crossing Keyboards", in which students perform concerts and tutors give masterclasses. Since 2000 Kalnciems is the President of the Latvian Piano Teachers Association and since 2003 organizes the annual Jūrmala Piano Performance Masterclass. He combines his substantial pedagogic and social activities with his active schedule of solo recitals and appearances with orchestras in Latvia and abroad. He has recorded and released several CDs.
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Antti Siirala (Finland) has established himself as one of the finest pianists of his generation. His rich palette of sound colours, his differentiated and songful phrasing and expressive intelligence are praised frequently. Antti Siirala is the winner of numerous international competitions, including the Leeds International Piano Competition. In 1997 he won the International Beethoven Piano Competition Vienna as the youngest laureate in its history. This resulted in the performance of all Beethoven piano works at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in the following years and a focus on Beethoven in Siirala´s repertoire. He performs with renowned conductors like Herbert Blomstedt, François-Xavier Roth, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Sakari Oramo, and with orchestras like the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Bamberger Symphoniker, the Radio Symphony Orchestras of HR, NDR, SWR and WDR, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Wiener Symphoniker, City of Birmingham Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra London, Residentie Orkest, Gothenburg Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo. He regularly performs chamber music with partners like Carolin Widmann, Baiba Skride, Lawrence Power, Tanja Tetzlaff, Jan Vogler and Sharon Kam.
Milestones in his career were recitals in the piano series of the Berlin Philharmonic, at the Lucerne Festival and at the Ruhr Piano Festival, at concert halls like Cologne Philharmonie, London Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Metropolitan Museum in New York or Zurich Tonhalle. Furthermore, Antti Siirala was artist in residence for three years at the Konzerthaus Dortmund, featured in its series Junge Wilde.
Recent highlights were his debut with the Belgrade Philharmonic with the Grieg piano concerto and the German premiere of Thomas Adès Three Berceuses with Lawrence Power at the Moritzburg Festival. The upcoming seasons will see Antti return to the Prague Symphony Orchestra under Pietari Inkinen, to the Nordic Chamber Orchestra and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra under Eva Ollikainen. He will also make his debut with the Odense Symphony Orchestra and the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken.
CD recordings, for which he received the Editor´s Choice Award of Gramophone Magazine several times, were published by Sony (Schubert´s Trout Quintet with newly composed variations) and Naxos (works by Brahms and Schubert transcriptions). Other recordings include the last three Beethoven sonatas (AVI-Music) and Beethoven´s Triple Concerto (SONY, with The Knights, Colin Jacobsen and Jan Vogler). At the present time Antti Siirala is piano professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich.