The club finals took place over two sold-out sets on Friday, April 5 at The Jazz Kitchen where each pianist was allotted two 15-minute sets with the house rhythm section. The final round was judged on Saturday, April 6 at Hilbert Circle Theatre, hosted by GRAMMY® Award-winner Dee Dee Bridgewater. Each pianist performed in duo format with five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling, followed by performances accompanied by The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra.
Both sets of the semi-finals and the finals were streamed live on AmericanPianists.org
and on the American Pianists Association’s Facebook page by WFYI-FM, Indianapolis’ NPR affiliate.
“The buildup to this process has been 14-months long and it is just surreal,” says Cohen. “I put love and passion into every note and part of this competition. Whether it was judged, non-judged or through community outreach, I put everything I had into this experience.”
According to Dr. Harrison, the jury heard, in anonymous fashion, the music submitted by the pianists nominated earlier last year for the awards. Says Harrison, “Past winners of this competition have been highly successful and are enjoying much acclaim. Given the level of talent and distinguished achievement of the 2015 Jazz Finalists, I am confident the record of success will continue.”
There are many prestigious piano competitions throughout the world, but ours is unique,” says Harrison. “Because we have a multi-step process that occurs over a 13-month period, we get to see and hear each finalist both in a club setting and out in the community. They gain an unparalleled opportunity to grow professionally, and we gain a unique chance to watch each evolve as artists and to gain enhanced artistic stature, at an important time in their professional development. It’s perhaps the most rewarding part of our work to see these already accomplished artists take their talent to the next level, and to bring that talent to not only Indianapolis, but to the world. And it is through this process that all of the finalists—not just the winner—can grow.”