About the Judges:
American pianist Douglas Riva has gained international recognition for his profound knowledge of Spanish music, and no less an authority than the distinguished Spanish composer Xavier Montsalvatge has described him as an exceptional pianist. Douglas Riva’s interpretations of the works of Enrique Granados have earned him his reputation as today’s leading exponent of Granados’ piano music. His recordings for Naxos of the complete piano works of Granados, comprising 231works including 102 World Premiere recordings have won worldwide critical acclaim. Douglas Riva is the Assistant Director of the eighteen-volume critical edition of the Complete Works for Piano of Enrique Granados, directed by Alicia de Larrocha and published by Editorial Boileau, Barcelona. In November, 2016 the Complutense University, Madrid, published his critical edition of the complete orchestral works by Granados, including the first publication of 8 works. Mr. Riva recorded one of these works, Elisenda, with the City of Granada orquestra, directed by Cristóbal Soler, for Deutsche Grammophon. He has performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and numerous festivals Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Holland, and the United States. He gave the first American performance of a newly discovered Scarlatti sonata at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the world première of Gazebo Dances by John Corigliano. Granados’s long-lost masterpiece Cant de les estrelles for piano solo, organ and choruses was performed for only the second time in history by Douglas Riva and the Voices of Ascension, directed by Dennis Keene in 2007. The Naxos recording of the première performance, Song of the Stars, was nominated for a GRAMMY award.
Anthony de Mare is one of the world’s foremost champions of contemporary music. His versatility has inspired the creation of over 60 new works by some of today’s most distinguished artists including Steve Reich, Wynton Marsalis, Nico Muhly, Eve Beglarian, William Bolcom, Fred Hersch, Ethan Iverson, Meredith Monk, Mason Bates, Paul Moravec and Andy Akiho. Known for his entrepreneurial performance projects, he continues to expand the boundaries of the repertoire, which includes the speaking-singing pianist genre that he pioneered over 25 years ago with the premiere of Frederic Rzewski’s De Profundis.
Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano is a landmark commissioning and concert project that perfectly expresses his vision to expand both the repertoire and the audience for contemporary music. As creator, performer and co-producer, he has brought together composers, spanning multiple genres, to bring the work of Stephen Sondheim into the concert hall. His recording for ECM was cited on numerous “Best Of” lists in 2015. The Chicago Sun-Times declared “that de Mare’s passion and vision almost radiate from the stage … he causes all involved – composers, performer and audience members — to think about how music is made and how we listen to it.”
The adaptability of his programming to traditional classical, jazz and theater spaces speaks to the range of de Mare’s versatility. His performances over the years span five continents and his discography of over twenty recordings includes works by Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, & Lou Harrison, John Cage and Meredith Monk, Astor Piazzolla, Frederic Rzewski and many others.
In recent years, his performances have taken him to Australia (Melbourne Recital Centre and Sydney), the London Jazz Festival at the Barbican, the 21C Festival in Toronto, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Cal Performances (Berkeley), Virginia Tech Center for the Arts, SF Jazz, The Ravinia Festival, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Monadnock Music Festival, the Virginia Arts Festival, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Schubert Club in Minneapolis, Mondavi Center at UC Davis, Rockport Music Festival, and the Cliburn Series in Fort Worth.
Since his debut with Young Concert Artists, his accolades and awards have included First Prize and Audience Prize at the International Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition (The Netherlands) and The International Contemporary Piano Competition of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France). He gave his Carnegie Hall debut at Zankel Hall in 2005.
A Steinway Artist, he currently is Professor of Piano at Manhattan School of Music and New York University. He also serves as new music curator for the
Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in NYC.
Pianist Raj Bhimani’s concerts are “virtuosic, heartfelt and eloquent,” writes New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman. Time Out NY noted him as being a “gifted and highly expressive pianist.” Performing regularly across North America and Europe, he also makes frequent appearances in India, where the nationally distributed newspaper The Hindu wrote, “Raj Bhimani is a very sensitive piano player, with a predilection for lyrical melody accompanied with rhythmic gracefulness.” In New York, where he resides, he appears often at the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center as well as at other venues.
Mr. Bhimani is a champion of new music and has developed a particular expertise in French piano literature. During his time studying in Paris he had the opportunity to meet composer Henri Dutilleux, who declared him “a great artist who plays with sensitivity and intelligence.” In 2016, to mark what would have been the composer’s 100th birthday, Mr. Bhimani gave several performances of his works, including the Preludes, which Mr. Bhimani learned from handwritten manuscripts given to him by the composer before these works were published.
Another prominent French composer, Thérèse Brenet, has written several works especially for Mr. Bhimani. Two of Ms. Brenet’s compositions for Mr. Bhimani can be heard on a CD entitled “To the West Wind,” on the Delatour label. A disc containing Schubert’s B-flat Sonata and Moments Musicaux has also been issued by Delatour. Two more works Ms. Brenet wrote for Mr. Bhimani were issued in 2014 on a disc entitled “Le Visionnaire,” released by Musik Fabrik, which has also released a recording of late solo works by Brahms. All these recordings are available worldwide on iTunes, Amazon, and numerous other sites. A new recording of solo works by Ravel is in production, and Mr. Bhimani has plans to travel to Poland to record two new works for piano and orchestra by Ms. Brenet with the Polish National Radio Symphony.
In addition to solo recitals, Mr. Bhimani also performs with Syrinx : XXII, a group he formed with musicians from Portugal. The ensemble performs regularly in New York and Portugal and has earned notice from composers: their second commission, a work by Carlos Marecos, was recently premiered during the group’s extended tour of India.
Frequently sought after as a teacher and pedagogue, Mr. Bhimani is known for guiding students from their first encounters with a piano up to concert level performances. His students have earned numerous prizes and have been heard in performance at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and other esteemed venues in New York and across the United States. He is a frequent judge and lecturer on piano pedagogy and has served on the board of The Leschetizky Association, an organization committed to upholding the great pedagogue’s ideals of beautiful tone production and musical integrity. Mr. Bhimani is grateful to his own teachers: John Steele Ritter, Peter Hewitt, Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer, Claude Frank, and Seymour Bernstein.
Follow Mr. Bhimani’s activities at his website, www.RajBhimani.com, like his page on Facebook, or subscribe to his channel on YouTube.