Alexander Braginsky (Nonvoting Co-Chair) / United States
Introduced to the piano by his concert pianist mother, Moscow-born Alexander Braginsky began studying the piano at the age of four. His first teacher, Alexander Goldenweiser, a classmate of Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, introduced Braginsky to the nineteenth-century Romantic tradition. After Goldenweiser’s death, he continued to study with Theodore Gutman, another illustrious representative of the “Golden Age” of Russian piano school.
Offering his audiences a repertoire that extends from Baroque to avant-garde, Braginsky has performed more than 20 world premieres, most of which were commissioned and written for him. Braginsky has performed extensively in the USSR, Israel, England, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, People’s Republic of China, Spain, Cuba, France, and the United States. He also appeared on stage in collaboration with the variety of renowned artists including Yefim Bronfman and Oleg Kagan. Alexander Braginsky and his wife, cellist Tanya Remenikova, were the first artists-in-residence appointed by Churchill College, Cambridge, in 1981.
A professor on the faculty of the International Music Summer Course in Vienna, Austria from 1995 to 2006, Braginsky regularly gives numerous master classes around the world, including International Keyboard Institute at Mannes College and Beijing International Music Festival.
Braginsky has recorded for DDF, Sound StarTone, and d’Note labels. He has appeared repeatedly on BBC, National Public Radio, RTB-BRT, and other radio stations throughout the world. In 2003 in Vienna he was awarded the Josef Dichler Gold Medal for outstanding achievement.
Today, Braginsky is a Professor of Piano at the University of Minnesota School of Music. Braginsky is the Founding President and the Artistic Director of the International Piano-e-Competition.
Eduard Zilberkant (Nonvoting Co-Chair) / United States
Russian born Eduard Zilberkant is recognized as one of today's most gifted artists and has an active career as pianist and conductor. Maestro Zilberkant has been received enthusiastically by audiences and press alike throughout Europe, Canada and the United States, performing in such concert halls as The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Curtis Hall at the Curtis Institute of Music, Artur Rubinstein Hall and Warsaw Philharmonic Hall in Poland, Teatro Sangiorgi in Catania, Sicily, Volgograd Opera House in Russia and Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage.
He is a returning guest artist at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York City, and has been a guest artist and conductor at some of the world's most prestigious music festivals which include the Ravello Festival in Italy, the Corfu Festival Ionian Concert Series in Greece, the Manolis Kalomiris International Music Festival in Samos, Greece, the Assisi International Festival and Orazio Frugoni Music Institute in Italy, the Baracasa Festival of Radio France in Montpellier, France, and Bellingham Music Festival in Washington.
This year is Maestro Zilberkant’s 12th season as music director and conductor of the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and Arctic Chamber Orchestra. Under his leadership, these orchestras have toured in Alaska, Canada, the continental United States, and Europe.
Maestro Zilberkant is a sought after guest conductor. He has conducted the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in Prague and on tour to Germany, the orchestra of Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano in Italy, the Martinu Chamber Orchestra in the Czech Republic and Germany, the Orchestra of the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Sicily, the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra in New York City, the Teatro di San Carlo Orchestra, Naples Italy, and the Prague Philharmonic on tour to the Ravello Festival in Italy.
The German newspaper, Schwabisches Tagblatt wrote of his performance of the Dvorak's "New World Symphony", "[Maestro Zilberkant] made an impression for feeling the nuances of the tempo, pauses, and accents...he brought out new colors and romantic feeling with full balance of the sound from the orchestra." After his performance of the Mozart Symphony No. 41 with the Arctic Chamber Orchestra in Anchorage, Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News wrote: "[Maestro Zilberkant] brought admirable intelligence to his reading of the piece...and sculpting the individual lines into a monumental and heroic structure; his weaving of the finale's awesome counterpoint show him to be a musician of significance whom we hope to hear again."
A Fulbright Scholar in Germany, Eduard Zilberkant received a Solisten Diploma from the Freiburg Musik Hochschule. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. Maestro Zilberkant is Artist in Residence, and Chair of the Music Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Fabio Bidini is recognized as one of the foremost young pianist to have emerged from Italy since the days of Michelangeli.
After starting piano lessons at the age of five, he performed his first public recital only half a year later. In the following years he won eleven of the most important Italian piano competitions, receiving not only the top honors, but also Audience and special prizes.
Mr. Bidini graduated magna cum laude and was one of the youngest graduates ever of the prestigious Cecilia Conservatory in Rome. Pianists who made a significant contribution to his artistic development are Orazio Frugoni and Maria Tipo.
His sensational success at the Busoni and at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition opened the doors for Mr. Bidini to a constantly growing international career.
Mr. Bidini took the world by storm with his technical wizardry, poetic lyricism, and his exquisite sound at his London debut in the Barbican Center with the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas in the presence of Sir Georg Solti, Barbara Hendricks and James Galway in 1992. Since then, Fabio Bidini has enjoyed an active performing career.
He is a frequent guest of the best orchestras worldwide, playing in the world´s most famous halls. He has had a good fortune of working with leading conductors of our time, including Michael Tilson Thomas, Ivan Fischer, Andrey Boreyko, Zoltan Kocsis, Eri Klas, GianAndrea Noseda, to name just a few.
His repertoire is tremendously vast; it contains 84 piano concerti as well as the piano works from the baroque to the modern era.
Mr. Bidini is frequently invited to perform at prestigious festivals (Tuscan Sun Festival Cortona/ Napa, Festival Radio France Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon, La Roque d’Anthéron International Piano Festival, Stern Grove Festival, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli International Piano Festival/ Brescia and Bergamo, Festival dei due Mondi).
Fabio Bidini is in high demand as a chamber music partner. He has enjoyed artistic collaboration with the American String Quartet, the Janacek Quartett, the Brodsky Quartett, the Szymanowski Quartet, the Modigliani Quartet, the Quartetto di Fiesole, Zoltan Kocsis, Nikolaj Znaider, Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, Paula Robison, Corey Cerovsek, Wendy Warner, Eva Urbanova, Eva Mei, Roberto Fabbriciani, Alexis-Pia Gerlach, Nina Kotova, Dimitri Ashkenazy and Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker.
Fabio Bidini´s discography comprises thirteen CDs of leading recording companies like BMG, Classichord, Musikstrasse, EPR, True Sounds, among others.
In 2015 Mr. Bidini became the first recipient of the Carol Grigor Piano Chair – a new position enabled by a $5-million endowment gift from the Colburn School’s board chairwoman Carol Colburn Grigor in Los Angeles. Bidini has held the position of Professor of Piano at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler, in Berlin, one of Europe’s premiere music conservatories. He also serves as an Artist-in-Residence at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Köln.
Peter Donohoe / United Kingdom
Peter Donohoe was born in Manchester in 1953. He studied at Chetham’s School of Music for seven years, graduated in music at Leeds University, where he studied composition with Alexander Goehr, and the Royal Northern College of Music, studying piano with Derek Wyndham. He then went on to study in Paris with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod.
Since his unprecedented success as Silver Medal winner of the 1982 7th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, he has developed a distinguished career in Europe, the USA, the Far East, New Zealand and Australia. He is acclaimed as one of the foremost pianists of our time, for his musicianship, stylistic versatility and commanding technique. In June 2011 he returned to Moscow as a jury member for the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition.
During recent seasons Peter Donohoe’s performances included appearances with the Dresden Staatskapelle with Myung-Whun Chung, Gothenburg Symphony with Gustavo Dudamel and Gurzenich Orchestra with Ludovic Morlot. He also performed with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and played both Brahms Concertos with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Last season his engagements included appearances with the City of Birmingham Symphony and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras and an extensive tour of South America. He also took part in a major Messiaen Festival in the Spanish city of Cuenca, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Peter Donohoe played with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Sir Simon Rattle’s opening concerts as Music Director. He has also recently performed with all the major London Orchestras, Royal Concertgebouw, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Swedish Radio, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Vienna Symphony and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. He was an annual visitor to the BBC Proms for seventeen years and has appeared at many other festivals including six consecutive visits as resident artist to the Edinburgh Festival, eleven highly acclaimed appearances at the Bath International Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron in France, and at the Ruhr and Schleswig Holstein Festivals in Germany. In the United States, his appearances have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit Symphony Orchestras.
Since 1984 he has visited all the major Australian Orchestras many times, and since 1989 he has made several major tours of New Zealand with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He has recently returned from a highly acclaimed tour of Argentina with the National Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.
He has worked with many of the worlds’ greatest conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Neeme Jarvi, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Andrew Davis and Yevgeny Svetlanov. More recently he has appeared as soloist with the next generation of excellent conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, Robin Ticciati and Daniel Harding.
He is a keen chamber musician and performs frequently with the pianist Martin Roscoe. They have given performances in London and at the Edinburgh Festival and have recorded discs of Gershwin and Rachmaninov. Other musical partners have included the Maggini Quartet, with whom he has made recordings of several great British chamber works.
In 2001 Naxos released a disc of music by Gerald Finzi, with Peter Donohoe as soloist, the first of a major series of recordings which aims to raise the public's awareness of British piano concerto repertoire through concert performance and recordings. Discs of music by Alan Rawsthorne, Sir Arthur Bliss, Christian Darnton, Alec Rowley, Howard Ferguson, Roberta Gerhard, Kenneth Alwyn, Thomas Pitfield, John Gardner and Hamilton Harty have since been released to great critical acclaim.
Akiko Ebi launched her international career as the winner of the Grand Prix in the International Long Thibaud Competition in Paris and a finalist in the International Fryderyk Chopin Competition in Warsaw, earning the recognition of Martha Argerich, her future mentor. She continued her training at the Paris Conservatoire with Aldo Ciccolini, Vlado Perlemuter and Louis Kentner.
She has performed throughout the world, with outstanding orchestras and conductors. As a chamber musician, she has given two-piano recitals with Martha Argerich and performed with Ivry Gitlis, Augustin Dumay, Regis Pasquier, Angela Hewitt, Michel Dalberto, the Morauges Quintet and the Parisii and Manfred quartets. She appears regularly at festivals in La Roque d’Anthéron, Menton, Echternach, Nantes, Lugano, Lisbon, Toledo, Tokyo, Salt Lake City and Warsaw.
Her discography includes Chopin’s complete Etudes, Preludes, Nocturnes and Impromptus, as well as works by Brahms, Liszt, Franck, Webern and Pierne. She was awarded a Grand Prix d’Or for her recording of the works of Dynam-Victor Fumet, and also for her disc of compositions by Hikari Ōe, which brought international attention to this gifted composer, who was born mute and mentally handicapped.
For her services to French music, Ebi was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 1993, and in 2002 she received Japan’s prestigious ExxonMobile Music Prize.
Robert McDonald / United States
Mr. McDonald has toured extensively as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America. He has performed with major orchestras in the United States and was the recital partner for many years to Isaac Stern and other distinguished instrumentalists.
Mr. McDonald has participated in the Marlboro, Casals, and Luzerne Festivals, the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center, and has broadcasted for BBC Television worldwide. He has appeared with the Takács, Vermeer, Juilliard, Brentano, Borromeo, American, Shanghai, and St. Lawrence string quartets as well as with Musicians from Marlboro.
Mr. McDonald's discography includes recordings for Sony Classical, Bridge, Vox, Musical Heritage Society, ASV, and CRI.
Mr. McDonald’s prizes include the Gold Medal at the Busoni International Piano Competition, the top prize at the William Kapell International Competition and the Deutsche Schallplatten Critics Award. His teachers include Theodore Rehl, Seymour Lipkin, Rudolf Serkin, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Beveridge Webster, and Gary Graffman.
He holds degrees from Lawrence University, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Manhattan School of Music.
A member of the piano faculty at the Juilliard School since 1999, Mr. McDonald joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2007, where he holds the Penelope P. Watkins Chair in Piano Studies. During the summer, he is the artistic director of the Taos School of Music and Chamber Music Festival in New Mexico.
Boris Slutsky / United States
Consistently acclaimed for his exquisite tonal beauty and superb artistry, Boris Slutsky emerged on the international music scene when he captured the First Prize along with every major prize, including the Audience Prize and Wihelm Backhaus Award, at the 1981 William Kapell Internaitonal (University of Maryland) Piano Competition. His other accomplishments include first prizes at the Kosciuszko Chopin Competition and San Antonio International Keyboard Competition, and major prizes at the International Bach Competition in Memory of Glenn Gould, Gina Bachauer, Busoni, Rina Sala Gallo, and Ettore Pozzoli International Piano Competitions.
Since his orchestral debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Youth Symphony in 1980, Mr. Slutsky has appeared on nearly every continent as soloist and recitalist, collaborating with such eminent conductors as Dimitri Kitaenko and Valery Gergiev. He has performed with the London Philharmonic, Stuttgart State Orchestra, and Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Neuss am Rhein in Germany, Bem Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland, Bergen Philharmonic in Norway, the RAI Orchestra in Milan, KBS Symphony Orchestra in Korea, and major orchestras in Spain, Russia, Columbia and Brazil. In South Africa, he has been soloist with the orchestras of Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. His North American engagements have included concerts with the Baltimore, Florida, Utah and Toronto Symphonies. Mr. Slutsky has been heard on recital series’ throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, Latin America, and the Far East, making appearances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Kaufmann Concert Hall, Bunka Kaikan in Tokyo, National Concert Hall in Taipei, Performing Arts Center in Seoul, and the Teatro Colon in Bogota, among many others.
An avid chamber musician, Mr. Slutsky’s more than two decades of chamber music collaborations include the critically acclaimed recording of Schumann’s Sonatas for Violin and Piano with Ilya Kaler on the Naxos label as well as performances with many renowned artists.
Mr. Slutsky presented master classes throughout North America, Europe and Asia and served as a jury member of many international piano competitions.
Born in Moscow into a family of musicians, Mr. Slutsky received his early training at Moscow’s Gnessin School for Gifted Children as a student of Anna Kantor, and completed his formal studies at the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, studying with Nadia Reisenberg, Nina Svetlanova, John Browning and Joseph Seiger. In addition, he has worked for many years with his mentor Alexander Eydleman.
Mr. Slutsky has joined the faculty of The Peabody Conservatory of Music in 1993, where he currently serves as the Piano Department Chair.
Beginning his artistic career at the age of fifteen, Israeli born Arie Vardi went on to receive international acclaim as one of the country’s foremost pianists. Alongside his study of music at the Rubin Academy, he succeeded in achieving a degree in law at Tel Aviv University. Vardi continued his piano studies in Basel with Paul Baumgartaner and studied composition with Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. He has performed widely as soloist with major orchestras under the baton of Semion Bychkov, Sergio Commissiona, Lukas Foss, Kurt Masur, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Zubin Mehta, Paul Paray, Paul Sacher and David Zinman, among others.
His concert tours have taken him to Eastern and Western Europe, the United States, Latin America, the Far East, Australia and Japan. Vardi performs regularly as soloist-conductor, playing the complete set of concerti by Bach and Mozart, part of which he has played on the Hammerfluegel.
In recent years he has specialized in the literature of the Impressionist period, including the entire repertoire of Debussy and Ravel. His RCA records have won international acclaim and prizes. Mr. Vardi’s extensive repertoire includes various Israeli works, many of which were dedicated to him.
In addition to his concert career, Arie Vardi is a professor of piano at the Hochschule fuer Musik in Hannover and at the Rubin Academy of Music, Tel Aviv University, where he served as its director and chaired the Piano Faculty. More than 30 of his students have won first prizes in international competitions.
Arie Vardi is best known to television viewers for his series “Master Classes”, the family series of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra which he conducts and presents, and currently for his new series “Intermezzo with Arik”.
He has been a Jury member in most of the leading international piano competitions, such as Beijing, Cleveland, Hamamatsu, Leeds, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Salt Lake City, Santander, Sydney, Tokyo, Vienna, Warsaw, and others. He is the Artistic Advisor and Chairman of the Jury of the Arthur Rubinstein International Master Competition.
Mr. Vardi has held Master Classes and presented lecture recitals at the most prominent music schools in Europe and the United States. Mr. Vardi was the recipient of the Minister of Education Award in 2004 for lifetime achievement.
Elisso Virsaladze / Georgia/Germany
Elisso Virsaladze grew up in a family in Tbilisi, which was for generations involved in the art and culture of Georgia. She received her first piano lessons from her grandmother, Professor Anastasia Virsaladze. After attending the conservatory, she left her native city and moved to Moscow. At the age of twenty she won the third prize in the Tchaikovsky Competition.
In Moscow, she continued her studies with Heinrich Neuhaus and Yakov Zak. These gifted teachers had not only a deep influence on her artistic development, but also immersed her in the renowned tradition of Russian piano pedagogy. It is therefore not surprising that she is recognised today as an exceptional teacher whose students have won sensational recognition at competitions. Moscow conservatory and Munich Musikhochschule have made Elisso Virsaladze a regular professor and there is hardly any important international competition where she has not been invited to take part in the jury. To mention only a few where she is regularly invited: Santander, Geza Anda in Zurich or Rubinstein in Tel Aviv as well as of course Tchaikovsky (and lately Richter) in Moscow.
Her deepest love is for the composers of the late 18th and 19th centuries, especially Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Schumann. At the age of twenty-four, she won the first prize at the Schumann Competition in Zwickau, and she has been described by the international press as one of the great contemporary interpreters of Schumann. At the same time, the pianist is well known for her wide repertoire up to and including modern Russian composers. The Soviet Union has honoured her with its highest artistic awards.
Elisso Virsaladze regularly performs in London, Milan, Rome, Paris, Lisbon, Berlin and Barcelona; duo concerts with Natalia Gutman took (and repeatedly take) place f. i. in Vienna, Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, Munich, Milan, Geneva, London and Lausanne, to name only the most important European cities. In chamber music and with orchestras such as Petersburg Philharmonic or Royal Philharmonia London she has toured North America, Japan and Europe extensively. Besides this Elisso Virsaladze regularly appears with prestigious orchestras in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Japan the US and other countries.
Elisso Virsaladze has worked with conductors such as Rudolf Barschai, Kyril Kondraschin, Ricardo Muti, Kurt Sanderling, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Evgeny Svetlanov or Juri Temirkanov– to name only a few.
The 2017/2018 season is as always composed of solo-recitals, orchestra-concerts, chamber-music in Germany, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Asia and South-America, master-classes (f. e. Fiesole, Salzburg, Sermoneta, Tokyo) and jury-competitions in Rio de Janeiro, Thessaloniki, Tel Aviv and Bratislava.
The label Live Classics where numerous recordings have been published opens a wide perspective onto Elisso Virsaladze´s musical personality.