Tag Archives: piano competition

Episode 8: American Pianists Awards past, present & future

In Episode 8 of The Journey, we learn about the history of the American Pianists Awards through an interview with Joel Harrison, CEO and Artistic Director of the American Pianists Association. During the episode we’ll hear excerpts from performances by Sean Chen, Spencer Myer, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Ellling and the five 2019 American Pianists Awards finalists. 

Joel Harrison has been President/CEO of the American Pianists Association since 2008 and Artistic Director since 2001. He was previously a faculty member at Davidson College in North Carolina and at Mississippi State University, where he was also director of the Mississippi Piano Showcase and a Touring Artist for the Mississippi Arts Commission. He currently oversees all artistic programs, most especially the American Pianists Awards, relationships with collaborative organizations, strategic planning, staff development and oversight, Board communications, community and external relationships, fundraising, and representing the Awards to a national and international constituency.

Episode 1: Who wants to win $100,000?

The Journey by the American Pianists Association

Growth stories and moving music by jazz and classical pianoís next generation

World travel. Engagements with top orchestras. Headline runs at the most famous clubs. How does one become a professional pianist? This series highlights growth stories of American Pianists Awards winners and provides an early look at the five finalists for the 2019 American Pianists Awards. Catch them as their stars are launched.


Who wants to win $100,000? Kicking off The Journey with an introduction to the five finalists for the 2019 American Pianists Awards.

Kenny Banks Jr., Emmet Cohen, Keelan Dimick, Dave Meder and Billy Test were selected by a blind jury from a pool of nominees from the top music schools, record labels and jazz industry veterans.

They are competing for the prestigious Cole Porter Fellowship, given every four years to an American jazz pianist at the conclusion of the organization’s unique 13-month competition process.

By virtue of their selection, each of the five finalists has already won a cash prize of $20,000, exceptional performance opportunities and the publicity gained from advancing in the world’s largest jazz competition. Further, the winner of the 2019 American Pianists Awards will receive a prize valued over $100,000 including cash, two years of career assistance, a winner’s media and performance tour, a recording contract with Mack Avenue Records and other opportunities worldwide.

The Premiere Series provides the first live-juried performances of the five American Pianists Awards finalists. From September 2018 to February 2019, each finalist will be invited to Indianapolis for outreach and community events as well as an adjudicated solo and trio set at The Jazz Kitchen.

All five finalists return to Indianapolis for the Club Finals at The Jazz Kitchen on April 5, 2019 and the Gala Finals at Hilbert Circle Theatre on April 6, 2019. GrammyÆ Award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater will host the Gala Finals and each finalist will perform with the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra and GrammyÆ Award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling. The Finals will be streamed live at AmericanPianists.org and on the American Pianists Association’s Facebook page (@APApianists).