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ADJUDICATORS

Manuel Laufer, Pianist

An enthusiastic proponent of new music, pianist Manuel Laufer has presented world premieres at Merkin Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, Symphony Space, Bang on a Can, June in Buffalo, and Festival Atempo (Caracas and Paris). As a core member of the Hayley-Laufer Duo, Ensemble Atempo, and the NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble, he has concertized extensively playing contemporary chamber music, performing canonic works by composers including Babbitt, Cage, Crumb, Lachenmann, and Xenakis in addition to newly commissioned repertoire. His solo work has championed modernist voices from his native Venezuela, placing particular emphasis on composer Diógenes Rivas. He serves on the Screening Committee of Festival Atempo, advises Caracas-based Ensamble Contemporáneo Kayros, and co-chairs the 20th/21st Century Music Festival of the Piano Teachers Congress of New York.

A versatile musician, Manuel is also passionate about traditional repertoire, appearing yearly at the Blueridge International Chamber Music Festival (BICMF, Vancouver). He has performed with orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic, and participated as a collaborator in the Songfest Professional Program, the Franz-Schubert-Institut at Baden-bei-Wien, and the Orford Arts Centre Summer Academy. He served as collaborative pianist at University of California, Irvine, and is currently a member of the Adjunct Faculty at NYU Steinhardt and the Artist Faculties of the BICMF and the NYU Steinhardt Summer Piano Intensive.

Manuel holds undergraduate degrees in Music History and Piano Performance from McGill University, completed a Master’s degree at University of California, Irvine, and received a Ph.D. in Piano Performance in 2015 from NYU Steinhardt. His principal teachers include Marilyn Nonken, Gabriela Montero, Nina Scolnik, Kyoko Hashimoto, and Edna Golandsky.

Michael Katz, Cellist

Hailed by the press for his “bold, rich sound” (Strad Magazine) and “nuanced musicianship,” (The New York Times), Grammy-nominated cellist Michael Katz has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician in venues such as Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, David Geffen Hal, the Kennedy Center, the Kimmel Center, Lucerne KKL, Tokyo’s Oji Hall, and Jerusalem’s Henry Crown Auditorium. His musicianship has been recognized with many awards, among them all three prizes at the 2011 Aviv Competition, and first prizes at the Juilliard School’s 2010 Concerto Competition and the 2005 Turjeman Competition.

High in demand as a chamber musician, Mr. Katz has collaborated and performed with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Anthony Marwood, Donald Weilerstein, Peter Frankl, Roger Tapping, Charles Neidich, and others.  As the cellist of the Lysander Piano Trio, Mr. Katz was a winner of the 2012 Concert Artists Guild Competition, and was awarded first prize in the 2011 Coleman competition and 2011 J.C. Arriaga competition.  His festival appearances include performances at Ravinia, Music@Menlo, Lucerne, Mostly Mozart, Chamber Music Northwest, Bard, Copenhagen, Classical Bridge, Festival Mozaic, Yellow Barn, Sarasota, Malaga Clasica, and the Holland Music Sessions. Deeply committed to audience engagement and community outreach, Mr. Katz was a Fellow in Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect from 2014-16 and is a core member of Decoda since 2019. He is a regular cello and chamber music faculty at the Csehy Summer School of Music and the Chamber Music Institute for Young Musicians, and was an adjunct professor of cello at Nyack College from 2015-2017.

Born in Tel-Aviv, Mr. Katz began his cello studies at age seven, and his early teachers included Zvi Plesser, Hillel Zori and the late Mikhail Khomitzer. Mr. Katz received his Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory as a student of Laurence Lesser and his Master of Music from the Juilliard School where he studied with Joel Krosnick. He has completed a Doctor of Music degree at SUNY Stony Brook as a student of Colin Carr. 

Sarah Crocker Vonsattel, Violinist

Violinist Sarah Crocker Vonsattel currently resides in New York City where she has been a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra since 2008. She was previously a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony.

Ms. Vonsattel leads an active life as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician. She has appeared as concerto soloist with Symphoria, the Coastal Symphony of Georgia, the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, among others. Chamber music performances include appearances at the Gardner Museum, Parlance Chamber Concerts, the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, Classical Tahoe, and Bargemusic. As a founding member of the Verklärte Quartet, Ms. Vonsattel was a Grand Prize Winner of the 2003 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Sarah has also appeared with the iO string quartet and the Talea Ensemble and can be heard on the Bridge Records label.

Sarah Vonsattel has appeared as both performer and faculty member at festivals including Orfeo and the Wellesley Composers Conference. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School.