Skip to content


Emmet Cohen Announced as Winner of 2019 American Pianist Awards

American Pianists Association Proudly
Announces EMMET COHEN as Winner of
2019 American Pianists Awards
Cohen to Perform in Celebration of
Prestigious Honor on Tuesday, April 16 in New York City
at Dizzy’s Club (Jazz At Lincoln Center)
American Pianists Association is proud to announce pianist Emmet Cohen as the winner of the 2019 American Pianists Awards. The announcement was made after the final round of performances on Saturday, April 6 at Indianapolis’ Hilbert Circle Theatre. Cohen joins illustrious past winners including Sullivan Fortner, Aaron Diehl, Dan Tepfer, Aaron Parks and Adam Birnbaum, among esteemed others.
Cohen, selected from a field of five finalists, received a cash prize and two years of career advancement and support valued at over $100,000, making this one of the most coveted prizes in the music world and the largest for American jazz pianists. Additionally, Cohen will receive a recording contract with Mack Avenue Music Group. For a full biography on Cohen, please visit:
“We are extremely happy to announce that Emmet Cohen is the winner of the 2019 American Pianist Awards. I’ve known Emmet for quite some while, as most of us are aware, this is his third time as a finalist,” says American Pianists Association President/CEO and Artist Director Dr. Joel Harrison. “He came beautifully prepared, focused and with imagination. Emmet is a brilliant pianist and he will be a wonderful ambassador for the American Pianists Association.
During this past week the five finalists–Kenny Banks, Jr., Emmet Cohen, Keelan Dimick, Dave Meder,and Billy Test–were judged in concert at a variety of venues throughout Indianapolis. Finals jury members included: Steinway artist/pianist and Professor Emeritus of Jazz Piano at Rutgers-Mason Gross School of the Arts Stanley Cowell; pianist/composer and Music Director for ARTEMIS Renee Rosnes; pianist/composer Helen Sung, Founder and President of B-Natural, Inc. Chris Mees; and Senior Director of A&R at Mack Avenue Music Group Will Wakefield.
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 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.”
About the American Pianists Association
The American Pianists Association has been supporting aspiring young artists for over 38 years and has been based in Indianapolis since 1982. It has a professional staff of eight, headed by Dr. Joel M. Harrison. The American Pianists Awards, held for both classical and jazz artists, offer significant opportunities for American pianists, ages 18-30, to advance their careers. Each winner receives a two-year fellowship, valued at over $100,000 including cash awards, fees, publicity and recording opportunities. All American Pianists Awards events are produced as public recitals and feature the finalists in a variety of settings. The organization greatly values the individual artistic sensibilities of each pianist, nurtures such individuality and does not impose any repertoire requirements during the competitions other than those necessary for the different genres. It is the intent of the American Pianists Awards to focus on artistic expression and not on competitive prowess. Further, the organization makes an effort to tailor its career assistance to suit the particular needs of the winner, offering an array of opportunities appropriate to the winner’s current career development and status. American Pianists Association strives to be the bridge between professional training and a full-fledged professional career.
For more information on the American Pianists Association, 
please visit