Piano Judges

Judges for 2010

Daniel Pollack, Chairman of the Piano Jury

Daniel Pollack is returning for his fourth year as Chairman of the Piano Jury. His career as a concert pianist has taken him worldwide across five continents – North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.

Mr. Pollack was recently featured in a profile in the New York Times headlined “Piano Man, Winning Russian Hearts and Minds” in which it was quoted by a recording executive, “he is now a legend in Russia.” Another profile featured in the International Herald Tribune, headlined, “A Musical ‘love affair’ with Russia.”


Recent highlights include appearances as soloist with conductor Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra in St. Petersburg, Russia and as soloist with such major philharmonics as London’s Royal, Seoul, Korea, Hong Kong, Kiev, Ukraine, Bogota, Colombia, Montevideo, and in the United States, as soloist with the philharmonics of New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, San Francisco, Minnesota, among numerous others.


Additionally, Mr. Pollack has performed solo recitals in such major music centers of the world as London's Royal Festival Hall, Vienna's Musikverein, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Buenos Aires' Teatro Colon, Seoul's Arts Center, Moscow's Bolshoi Zal, New York's Carnegie Hall and Chicago's Orchestra Hall.


Mr. Pollack has participated on major international competition juries such as the Tchaikovsky in Moscow; Queen Elizabeth in Brussels; Vladimir Horowitz, Kiev, Ukraine; Leeds, England; Maria Callas, Athens, Greece; Jose Iturbi, Los Angeles, California; and the Rachmaninoff in Moscow, among others.

His CDs include a recent release on Classical Records; ‘COLORS’, on RCM, a Grammy-nominated CD for Naxos of Samuel Barber, an all-Chopin CD released by Sony, and two “crossover” CDs of popular romantic works for Four Winds, and more.


Mr. Pollack has held several artist faculty positions including The Juilliard School, Columbia University and Yale's School of Music and is now on the faculty of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

He is a graduate of the Juilliard School from the class of the legendary Rosina Lhevinne.

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Jorge Mester

Jorge Mester is recognized throughout the world as a preeminent conductor who brings excellence and prominence to every organization he leads. This is his sixth season as music director of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mr. Mester was director of Juilliard's conducting department, led concerts and operas at the USC Thornton School of Music and directed many high-profile conducting workshops around the country, including an advanced-level conducting workshop in Naples. Generations of conductors have looked to Mr. Mester for instruction, including James Conlon, Dennis Russell Davies, Andreas Delfs, JoAnn Falletta and John Nelson.


Mr, Mester has mentored such internationally acclaimed artists as Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Midori, Renee Fleming, Cho-Liang Lin, Aprille Milo and Robert McDuffie. During his 21-year affiliation with the Aspen Music Festival, Mr. Mester helped solidify the organization's reputation for recognizing and nurturing emerging world-class musicians.


Mr. Mester is conductor laureate of the Aspen Music Festival, and former artistic director of Mexico City’s leading orchestra, Orquesta Filarmonica de la Ciudad de Mexico. His passion for opera has also made him a sought-after conductor in opera houses around the world. He has conducted numerous productions for the New York City Opera, the Sydney Opera, the Spoleto Festival and the Washington Opera. He led a staged operatic production of Mozart's Don Giovanni in November, 2006 in Naples. Maestro Mester has also made numerous recordings, including 72 with the Louisville Orchestra. He is in his 24th year as music director of the Pasadena Symphony. He also serves as music director of the Louisville Orchestra.

Mr. Mester has worked with many gifted composers, presenting over 75 world premieres. In 1985, he received Columbia University's prestigious Ditson Conductor's Award for the advancement of American music. Other Ditson Awards recipients include Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy and Leopold Stokowski.

Mr. Mester, of Hungarian descent, was born and raised in Mexico City. An accomplished violist, he performed with the Beaux-Arts Quartet for several years before focusing exclusively on conducting.

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Lalo Schifrin

Lalo Schifrin is a true Renaissance man. As a pianist, composer and conductor, he is equally at home conducting a symphony orchestra, performing at an international jazz festival, scoring a film or television show, or creating works for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and even The Sultan of Oman.


It is Mr. Schifrin’s ability to switch musical gears which makes him so unique in the music world. As a jazz musician he has performed and recorded with great personalities such as Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Count Basie, Jon Faddis, James Moody, Louie Bellson, and Kenny Burrell. In the classical composition field, he has more than 60 works.

Among Mr. Schifrin’s conducting credits are the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Paris Philharmonic Orchestra, for which he was appointed Musical Director for 5 years, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the Mexico Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of Saint Luke (New York City), the National Symphony Orchestra of Argentina, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Lincoln Center Chamber Orchestra.


Mr. Schifrin has written more than 100 scores for film and television and is recognized as being one of the most talented and significant contributors to film music throughout the past 40 years. Among the classic scores are “Mission Impossible,” “Mannix,” “The Fox,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Bullitt,” “Dirty Harry,” “The Cincinnati Kid,” and “Amityville Horror.” Recent film scores include “Tango,” “Rush Hour,” “Rush Hour 2,” “Rush Hour 3,” “Bringing Down The House,” “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” “After the Sunset,” and “Abominable.”


To date, Mr. Schifrin has won four GRAMMY ® Awards, one Cable Ace Award, and has received six Oscar nominations. In addition to current commissions and film scoring activities, Mr. Schifrin tours extensively conducting symphony orchestras particularly featuring his GRAMMY-nominated repertoire of “Jazz Meets Symphony,” a series in which Mr. Schifrin’s longtime involvement in both the jazz and symphonic worlds come together.

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Mark Swed

Mark Swed has been chief classical music critic of the Los Angeles Times since 1996. He has also covered music for The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and 7 Days in New York and has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Economist, Musical America, Opera News, BBC Music, Gramophone, Stagebill, Schwann-Opus, and many other national and international publications.


Swed has contributed liner notes for recordings, program notes for concerts and catalogue essays for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.


From 1992 to 2000, he was 20th-century music editor of The Musical Quarterly and is currently writing a biographical study of John Cage. Swed has received awards in criticism from the Los Angeles Music Center, ASCAP, the American Music Center and the Los Angeles Press Club. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2007.


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Ilana Vered

Born in Israel, Ilana Vered graduated from the Paris Conservatory at the age of 15 and completed her studies at the Juilliard School in New York City. She made her debut as one of the first winners of the Young Concert Artists International Competition.

Heard in recital in virtually all of the music centers of the world, Miss Vered performed with, among others, the Chicago, San Francisco, London and Japan NHK Symphonies, and the New York, Los Angeles, Royal, Munich and Israel Philharmonics. She has recorded the concertos of Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, in addition to etudes by Chopin, Moszkowski, Schumann, Liszt and Debussy for the London label.


She recorded the complete set of Beethoven's five piano concertos with the Warsaw Philharmonic under the baton of Kazimierz Kord, released in late 1993 by the prorate label which represented the culmination of Miss Vered’s long association with the Beethoven concertos – works she has always regarded as the cornerstone of the concerto repertoire.

"I have lived with these great concertos for many years, and it was a thrill for me finally to record them,” Miss Vered asserts. “I am always struck by the way the wonderful slow movements of these works proceed out of a kind of all-knowing inner necessity-like a reflective soul caught between the magnificent ‘rubble’ of the outer movements, in which Beethoven seems to topple huge blocks of sound in a defiant affirmation of joy and humanity.”

A regular participant in summer festivals, including Mostly Mozart and Tanglewood, Miss Vered is also the musical director of the "Piano Fest Perugi," a vibrant new international music festival in which all students play with orchestra and appear in recitals. A sought-after teacher, she was featured in The Most Wanted Piano Teachers in the USA and conducts regular master classes at institutions such as Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and the University of South Carolina.

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Voice Judges

Judges for 2010

Matthew Epstein, Chairman of the Voice Jury

Matthew A. Epstein, Chairman of the Voice Jury for the second consecutive year, currently serves as the Director of Columbia Artists Vocal, LLC, continuing a long tradition with Columbia Artists Management, LLC, which began in 1972.


Mr. Epstein served as Artistic Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago from May 1999 to April 2005. Since 1980, he has served as artistic consultant and later artistic advisor to general directors Carol Fox, Ardis Krainik, and Lyric’s first artistic director, Bruno Bartoletti.

As general director of the Welsh National Opera (1991-94), Mr. Epstein was the first American to run an opera company in Great Britain. From 1988 until 1990, he was Artistic Director of BAM Opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. As an artistic consultant, he has also worked with San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Carnegie Hall, Sony Classical, and BMG/RCA Records.

He has managed the careers of many celebrated artists, including Kathleen Battle, Rockwell Blake, Ileana Cotrubas, Mark Delavan, Reneé Fleming, Susan Graham, Marjana Lipovsek, Catherine Malfitano, James Morris, Madga Olivero, Felicity Palmer, Ruggiero Raimondi, Samuel Ramey, Neil Shicoff, Elisabeth Söderström, Tatiana Troyanos, and Frederica von Stade.

Throughout his career, Mr. Epstein has been especially interested in and identified with the career development of American singers, conductors, and stage directors. He has been a member of the Music Academy of the West faculty since 1997.

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David Daniels

“To say that he is the most acclaimed countertenor of the day, perhaps the best ever, is to understate his achievement. He is simply a great singer.”

─ The New York Times

David Daniels, Chairman of the Voice Jury for our inaugural year, is returning as a member of the Voice Jury. He is known for his superlative artistry, magnetic stage presence and a voice of singular warmth and surpassing beauty, which have helped him redefine his voice category for the modern public. The American countertenor has appeared with the world’s major opera companies and on its main concert and recital stages. He made history as the first countertenor to give a solo recital in the main auditorium of Carnegie Hall. The Chicago Tribune has called Daniels “today's gold standard among countertenors.” Gramophone magazine acknowledged his contribution to recorded excellence as well as his expansion of the repertoire for his voice type by naming him one of the “Top Ten Trailblazers” in classical music today.

Two highly anticipated European recital tours highlight David Daniels’s 2009-10 season, taking him to Frankfurt, Tampere, Finland, Paris, Belgrade, Berlin, London’s Wigmore Hall, and the Prinzregententheater in Munich. He returns to Houston Grand Opera as Arsamene in Nicholas Hytner’s renowned production of Handel’s Serse opposite Susan Graham and makes his debut with Atlanta Opera in the title role of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice conducted by long-time collaborator Harry Bicket. Concert engagements include a special tour of Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the celebrated Canadian orchestra Les Violons du Roy conducted by Bernard Labadie in Montreal, Quebec City, New York City at Carnegie Hall, and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall. Mr. Daniels collaborates with Maestrio Labadie again later in the season in Bach’s St. John Passion for his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut.

Mr. Daniels was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the son of two singing teachers. He began to sing as a boy soprano, moving to tenor as his voice matured, and earned an undergraduate degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Dissatisfied with his achievements as a tenor, David Daniels made the daring switch to the countertenor range during graduate studies with George Shirley at the University of Michigan.

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Marilyn Horne

The highly celebrated American mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne, has been called the "Star-Spangled Singer" and "the Heifetz of singers." In 2002, following a career that had seen her dominate her field for more than four decades, Opera News declared, "Marilyn Horne – may be the most influential singer in American history."
Miss Horne has received numerous accolades and honors in the arts as well as academia. President Clinton named her a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1995. In 1992, she received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bush and the Endowment for the Arts. Miss Horne sang at the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton White Houses and at President Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.


Miss Horne's distinguished career has garnered her numerous honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Gramophone magazine. She was named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1995, received the National Medal of Arts in 1992, and was inducted into the American Classical Music and Hollywood Bowl halls of fame. Among her worldwide prizes are the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters from France's Ministry of Culture, Commendatore al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, Fidelio Gold Medal from the International Association of Opera Directors, and Covent Garden Silver Medal for Outstanding Service. In an unprecedented move, Miss Horne received Italy's first Rossini Medaglia d'Oro, created especially for her. Her international success in the most difficult of coloratura mezzo-soprano roles led to the revival of many of Rossini's and Handel's greatest operas.


Miss Horne began her music studies with her father and first sang in public at age 2. She studied voice and song/recital works at the University of Southern California, the latter with longtime Music Academy vocal accompaniment director Gwendolyn Koldofsky (her accompanist thereafter for 10 years). From age 17, she participated in many opera and song repertoire master classes conducted by Lotte Lehmann in Los Angeles and at the Music Academy. With her 60th birthday gala at Carnegie Hall in 1994, Miss Horne launched the Marilyn Horne Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to the art of the vocal recital in the United States.

Miss Horne has performed in more than 1,300 recitals, made well over 100 recordings, and received three Grammy Awards. Her most recent release, Marilyn Horne – Just for the Record: The Golden Voice, is a retrospective of her career and includes classical songs, opera, and American standards. Her autobiography, Marilyn Horne: The Song Continues, written with Jane Scovell, was published in 2004.


Miss Horne has been a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma for nine years, and holds similar positions at Manhattan School of Music, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the University of Maryland at College Park. She has been a member of the Music Academy of the West faculty since 1995, and in 1997 was appointed Voice Program director.

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Peter Kazaras

The Director of Opera at UCLA, Peter Kazaras is also Artistic Director of the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program, a position he has held since 2006. As a tenor, he has performed worldwide, appearing at the Metropolitan, La Scala, Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Seattle, Geneva, Genova, Nice, Houston and Dallas, among other places. World premieres include Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles at the Met, Bernstein’s A Quiet Place and Tippett’s New Year (Houston), and Picker’s Thérèse Raquin (Dallas Opera). Conductors he has worked with include Leonard Bernstein, James Levine, Daniel Barenboim, James Conlon, John Nelson, Armin Jordan, Asher Fisch and Robert Spano.


Over the past decade, he also worked with great success as a stage director, with productions including Norma, Le nozze di Figaro and Falstaff for Seattle Opera. Recent productions include Le nozze di Figaro and new productions of Falstaff and Norma for Seattle Opera where he will also direct a new production of Tristan und Isolde in summer 2010 and Il barbiere di Siviglia in the fall.


Each summer over the past several years, he has returned to the Chautauqua Institution for master classes and individual coaching in Marlena Malas’s Vocal Program. In summer 2007 he made his Wolf Trap debut directing a revival of Musto’s Volpone that was nominated for a Grammy, and in 2008 he returned to San Francisco Opera Center’s Merola Program for a new production of Albert Herring.

A regular panelist on the Toll Brothers Metropolitan Opera Radio Quiz, Mr. Kazaras has also served on the panel of the first and second International Wagner Competitions at Seattle Opera, the first Elardo International Competition in New York, the Les Azuriales Competition in Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat in France and Marilyn Horne’s competition at Music Academy of the West. He has adjudicated twice at The Juilliard School, and has also served as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions.

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Carol Vaness

Carol Vaness, returning for her second year on the Voice Jury, was born in San Diego, California. Her professional singing career as a lyric soprano was launched in San Francisco and at the New York City Opera where she appeared regularly from 1979 to 1983. She has sung on all the stages of the world and participated in all the premiere music festivals. Based mainly at the Metropolitan Opera since 1984, Miss Vaness has collaborated with today's foremost conductors and directors on numerous television broadcasts throughout North America, Europe, and Japan and compiled a distinguished catalog of recordings.

Miss Vaness’ interpretations of Mozart's dramatic heroines, including Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Elektra in Idomeneo, and Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito, have been hailed as definitive. She has recorded them all.

Miss Vaness made her professional debut with San Francisco Opera and has been acknowledged as the world's leading interpreter of all the Mozart and Verdi heroines. In 1997, she became the soprano with the distinction of opening San Francisco Opera with Tosca more than any soprano in the company’s history. She has appeared as Vitellia, Donna Anna, Desdemona and Violetta at the Met Opera, Paris Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden for Queen ELizabeth, Chicago Lyric Opera, Gran Teatro del Liceo, and the Salzburg and Glyndebourne festivals with Sir Bernard Haitink, Sir Jeffrey Tate and Sir Colin Davis among many others.


Among her many celebrated television appearances, she has been featured with Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Alfredo Kraus, and chosen by James Levine, Riccardo Muti, George Solti, Christoff Eschenbach, James Conlon and Erich Leinsdorf in “Live from Lincoln Center” telecasts at the MET and Avery Fisher Hall. The Richard Tucker Gala was recorded live with Maestro James Conlon and baritone Sherrill Milnes. She was chosen to perform at the White House with members of the New York City Opera and ten years later in a COMMAND PERFORMANCE for President Boris Yeltsin and President George Bush on the night of the famed arms agreement between Russia and the United States.


Having become a spirited interpreter of Puccini’s Floria Tosca, she performed the role at the Metropolitan Opera in 2004 opposite Luciano Pavarotti and had the honor of being chosen by him to be his TOSCA for his last performance at the Met in 2006.


She is currently a full professor (PHD) of Voice and Opera at the exclusive Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.


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