Judges

Please welcome our 2019 adjudicators:
Bernadine Blaha
Daniel Lessner
Jeffrey Swann

 

Bernadene Blaha‘s “brilliant command of the piano”, whether featured as recitalist, concerto soloist or chamber musician, has been heralded in performances throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Mexico. Piano and Keyboard magazine has reviewed her as, “a pianist of integrity, with lovely sonorities and total clarity of line.” Highlights of this season include return engagements at the Piatigorsky Cello Festival, Newport Music Festival, Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Music Series, Worcester Chamber Music Society as well as performances in Canada, France and Italy.

Originally from Canada, Ms. Blaha first came to international attention as a prizewinner in the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition; the Young Keyboard Artists International Piano Competition, Grand Rapids, Michigan; the Masterplayers International Competition, Lugano, Switzerland; and the 11th Annual International Piano Competition, New York City. This latter award resulted in two highly acclaimed recital appearances, at Carnegie Recital Hall and the Lincoln Center Library. Soon afterward, Ms. Blaha was featured in the opening orchestra concert and a solo recital at the XXIX International Chopin Festival in Marianske Lazne, Czechoslovakia, followed by performances at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and Disney Hall in Los Angeles.

Ms. Blaha is a founding member of the piano trio Latitude 41, formed in 2009 with violinist Livia Sohn and cellist Luigi Piovano. Their debut CD of Schubert’s monumental “Trio in E flat Major” and “Notturno” was released in 2011 on the Eloquentia label to rave reviews. The group followed this success with a recording of the Saint-Saëns Trios and has a forthcoming CD featuring the Brahms Trios. Ms. Blaha’s discography also includes recordings for the CBC, Centaur and Analekta labels.

Also in demand as a teacher, adjudicator and clinician, Ms. Blaha has received the National Arts Foundation’s Outstanding Teacher Recognition Award. She has been invited to serve on the jury of the Gina Bachauer International Artist Piano Competition, Virginia Waring International Competition and the 2015 International E-Competition.

Currently residing in Los Angeles, Ms. Blaha has been a member of the Keyboard Faculty at the Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California since 1993 where she is a Professor.

Daniel Lessner has thrilled audiences around the world with his dazzling performances and poetic interpretations of the great masterworks of the piano repertoire. Critics have hailed his playing as “brilliant and blazing” and have called him “a musician of pristine artistic taste and discernment.” Mr. Lessner was the winner of the 2009 IBLA Grand Prize Special Award for his performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The international competition was held in Sicily, Italy, and a resulting tour throughout the United States in April of 2010 culminated in a concert at Carnegie Hall-Weill Auditorium in New York City.

Mr. Lessner has toured extensively in the United States and abroad, performing with orchestras and in solo recitals in cities which include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, Boston, Detroit, Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Miami, Palm Beach, Helsinki Finland, and Stockholm Sweden. He has garnered top prizes in competitions including the Maryland International, the Gina Bachauer International, the Interlochen Concerto Competition, Miecyslau Munz, the Grand Rapids International, and the Van Cliburn Scholarship Award. He has appeared as soloist with the Florida Philharmonic, the Miami Beach Symphony, the Queens Symphony, the Maryland Symphony, the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra, the Interlochen Orchestra, the California Philharmonic, and the Pueblo Symphony, among others.

In recent seasons, Mr. Lessner was a soloist with the Pasadena Symphony at Descanso Gardens in Pasadena, CA where he played Bernhard Herrmann’s Piano Concerto from the film Hanover Square, along with Chopin’s Nocturne in C minor. He appeared with the Filarmonica de Chile in Santiago, Chile, playing a series of concerts where he performed the Rachmaninoff Third Concerto in the Teatro Oriente. While in Chile, Lessner gave master classes at the University of Chile and the School of Modern Music, and was invited to return there in the 2010-2011 season. In February 2010, Lessner performed the Chopin Concerto #1 with The Pueblo Symphony in Pueblo, Colorado, conducted by Dr. Jacob Chi, and returned there next two successive season to play the Tchaikovsky Concerto no.1 and Prokofiev Concerto no. 3. He has appeared with the Marquette Symphony Orchestra in Marquette, Michigan in 2014 and 2015 with the Prokofiev Concerto no. 3 and Rachmaninoff’s Concerto no. 3. While in Marquette Mr. Lessner also gave master classes, and recitals in which he included Bach’s Goldberg Variations and the complete Etudes Op. 10 by Chopin. Lessner was recognized for Most Outstanding Performance in the works of Chopin and Liszt in the 6th Palm Beach International Piano Competition. As a result, he was invited by the Orchestra de San Luis invited him for a concert tour throughout Argentina and South America where he played the Beethoven Concerto #4. Mr. Lessner performed the Brahms-Paganini Variations in Carnegie Hall in New York City, in a gala concert that included such legendary pianists as Byron Janis.

Lessner has performed in solo recitals in Miami’s Gusmann Hall under the auspices of the Miami Civic Music Association, returning there for three consecutive seasons, and in Los Angeles’ Taper Auditorium, where he played Liszt’s transcription of Wagner’s Overture to Tannhauser. He has appeared numerous times at Williams College in Massachusetts playing the Rachmaninoff Third Concerto with Ronald Feldman conducting the Berkshire Symphony, and Bach’s Goldberg Variations in the same season. Other career highlights include solo and orchestral concerts in Brazil on the Amazon River with the New York Philharmonia, and performing Rachmaninoff’’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini with the California Philharmonic at the Los Angeles Disney Concert Hall.

Daniel began his piano studies at the age of four in Miami, Florida, where he performed his first public recital at age eleven. By the time he turned eighteen he had won over a hundred local and national prizes, including the Irene Muir Scholarship Award for the top young talent in the state of Florida and the First Prize award at the acclaimed Interlochen Music Camp’s Concerto Competition, where he performed the Macdowell Concerto #2 in D minor and Rachmaninoff Concerto #2 in C minor. He entered the Juilliard School of Music in New York City on scholarship to study with the renowned teacher Adele Marcus. While at Juilliard he won the Tchaikovsky Concerto Competition, which he performed with the Juilliard Orchestra in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, under the baton of Massimo Freccia. After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music, Lessner was chosen as a candidate for Juilliard’s doctoral program. He remained at Juilliard as an Assistant Faculty Member for two seasons. Lessner is dedicated to nurturing young talent. He has been on the faculty at the University of Southern California as Professor of Piano, Adjunct. He also teaches privately in Los Angeles and gives Master Classes. He can be heard on United Airlines’ award-winning national advertising campaign performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in more than ten ads. He has also worked as a record producer and as an Artist and Repertoire Representative for EMI Records. Mr. Lessner is a Steinway Artist.

JEFFREY SWANN enjoys an international performing career which has taken him throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. He won first prize in the Dino Ciani Competition sponsored by La Scala in Milan, a gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and top honors at the Warsaw Chopin, Van Cliburn, Vianna da Motta and Montreal Competitions, as well as the Young Concert Artists auditions in New York City. His large and varied repertoire includes more than 60 concertos as well as solo works ranging from Bach to Boulez.

In addition to presenting lecture/recitals worldwide, Mr. Swann has performed with the symphonies of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Indiana, Dallas, Saint Louis, Phoenix, Houston, Lexington, Baltimore and Minneapolis; and in Europe with the orchestras of Rotterdam, The Hague, Belgian National and Radio, Santa Cecilia, La Scala, Maggio Fiorentino (Florence), RAI Turin and Rome, Südwest Rundfunk, Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Prague Philharmonic, Radio France de Montpellier, and the London Philharmonia, among many others. The conductors with whom he has performed include Zdenek Macal, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Marek Janowski, William Steinberg, Kazimirz Kord, Myung-Whun Chung, Roberto Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Daniele Gatti and Leonard Slatkin. In addition, he continues to lecture regularly at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany, and at Wagner Societies in the United States and Italy. Mr. Swann has also served as a judge at many competitions.

A native of Northern Arizona, Jeffrey Swann studied with Alexander Uninsky at Southern Methodist University and with Beveridge Webster and Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School, where he received his B.M., M.M. and D.M.A. Degrees.

Mr. Swann can be heard on Ars Polona, Deutsche-Gramophon, RCA-Italy, Replica, Fonit-Cetra, Music & Arts, and Agorá recordings. His CD, “The Virtuoso Liszt” (Music & Arts) won the Liszt Society’s Grand Prix, and his first volume of the Complete Beethoven Sonatas (Agorá) was chosen one of the Best of the Year by Fanfare magazine. His most recent release features works for piano and orchestra by Chopin with the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano.

Jeffrey Swann has served as Artistic Director of both the Dino Ciani Festival & Academy in Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa; he is currently Professor of Piano at New York University and the President’s Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Northern Arizona University.