Congratulations to all of the winners!
Congratulations to all of the winners!
In the giving spirit of Virtu(al)oso, our First Prize winner, Martin James Bartlett (United Kingdom), has generously offered to partially distribute his prize package, due to his existing recording contract with Warner Classics. Virtu(al)oso’s jury and artistic partner, Steinway & Sons, fully support awarding the recording contract to the Second Prize Winner, Arseny Gusev (Russia).
The Virtu(al)oso jury chose to award additional artist consulting services to Lovre Marušić (Croatia), in recognition for his excellence in the Final Round.
A professional vocalist for over thirty plus years. She revels in the styles of jazz, R&B and pop. She has toured throughout the United States and Canada performing in top clubs and concert halls and has opened for the likes of Mel Torme, Joan Rivers, Harry Belafonte and David "Fathead" Newman. Evelyn even performed for the First Lady Rosalyn Carter, Oprah Winfrey and General Colin Powell. In 2008 she was given the Jazz Legend Award from Tri-C Community College. She also studied under Dr. Howard Tucker from Oberlin.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, pianist & organist, Dave Thomas, was an original member of the R&B group, “Sweet Thunder”. He has also performed with numerous artists including the late James Cleveland, Dizzie Gillespie, Albert Ayler, Jean Carre, David Ruffin, and Grover Washington. He earned his undergraduate and graduate Music degrees from Cleveland State, Cleveland Institute of Music, Case Western Reserve University, and postgraduate work at the Royal Holloway College in London, England. He is also a gifted educator, having worked at The Cleveland School of the Arts, Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University, and Case Western Reserve University. He is the co-author of a book entitled, “A Child’s First Book of Spirituals,” which is the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award.
Jonathan has been performing as a jazz pianist and vocalist in his hometown of Cleveland for a decade, with a background of classical training from a young age. He became interested in jazz while pursuing a graphic design degree in St. Augustine, Florida, and began honing his self-taught jazz technique night after night at a local piano bar. He went on to study remotely with NYC jazz piano giant Dave Frank. Jonathan has performed with numerous ensembles at Northeast Ohio’s jazz clubs and for private events, and he can be heard playing regularly at restaurants including Hyde Park, Pier W, and Northstar Grill. Jonathan’s tenor vocal stylings are often likened to Chet Baker or Harry Connick Jr., paired with classic straight-ahead jazz piano playing inspired by Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Johnny Costa, Marian McPartland, Lennie Tristano, Hank Jones, and others.
Originally from Calgary, AB, Canada, Allison Hillier began studying the piano with Colleen Athparia at a young age, and first fell in love with the expressivity of the instrument. Now based in Cleveland, Ohio, she recently graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music with a Masters in Piano Performance with a concentration in Piano Pedagogy. Allison also holds a Bachelor in Piano Performance with a minor in Piano Pedagogy and concentration in Cognitive Science from Oberlin Conservatory and College. A passionate teacher who seeks to help her students discover the joy and fulfillment that music-making brings to everyday life, Allison was awarded the David Statler Walker Award in Music Education for her contributions to the field.
Nikolay Pushkarev was born in Kiev, Ukraine, into a family of musicians. He started his piano education at the age of 7. He has been awarded at piano competitions around the world and has participated in the concert tours in Europe, Canada and the USA in the squad of Kremerata Baltica Chamber Orchestra. Nikolay has been studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music under the guidance of Prof. Sergei Babayan since 2016, earning both his bachelor's and master's degrees.
A Young Steinway Artist, the Chinese pianist Hechengzi Li (Chengzi), was featured on the cover of the World of Music magazine and described as “The rising star, the genuine and passionate storyteller through music.” Beginning her piano studies at the age of two, Chengzi was the grand prize winner of the toddler-group of Liu Shikun International Piano Competition at the age of three. Chengzi was introduced as a music prodigy on the cover of Eastern Airline Magazine when she was only five years old. She released her first solo album performing the works of Scriabin, Stravinsky, and Chopin, released by STARSING Media Group in 2019. Chengzi is currently studying at Cleveland Institute of Music under Sergei Babayan.