Please welcome our 2015 Junior and Intermediate Competition Adjudicators:


resized_170x207_bernadeneblaha_homeBernadene Blaha has a “brilliant command of the piano” whether featured as a recitalist, concerto soloist or chamber musician. Her performances have been heralded throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Mexico. Originally from Canada, Ms. Blaha is a highly regarded chamber musician and a regular guest at international festivals including The Newport Festival, Tucson Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Summerfest, Festival of the Sound, Bard Festival, Banff Festival of the Arts, Round Top International Festival and Festival de San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She is currently on the Keyboard Faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles.

resized_150x210_igal_kesselmanIgal Kesselman is praised by the New York Times for his “kaleidoscopic” playing. He is one of today’s most forward-thinking performers and music educators. After making his American debut with the Washington Chamber Symphony at the Kennedy Center, he has performed throughout the country in such venues as Alice Tully Hall, Symphony Space and Merkin Concert Hall in NYC; the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC and the Kravitaz Center in West Palm Beach.

Dr. Kesselman was a top prizewinner at “Citta de Marsala” International Piano Competition in Italy and has performed as a soloist with many orchestras, including the Anapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Israeli Camerata. He is a past recipient of 10 America-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarships.

He received his Bachelors’ of Music degree, cum laude, from S. Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, and his Masters and Doctorate degrees from Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. His teachers have included Yoheved Kaplinsky, Emanuel Krasovsky and Irina Zaritskaya. Currently he serves as the Director of the Kaufman Music Center’s Lucy Moses School, New York City’s largest community arts school and serves as the Chair of the New York chapter of the National Guild for Community Arts Education. Dr. Kesselman is a member of the piano faculty at Lucy Moses School and Special Music School, New York’s only K-12 public school for musically gifted children.

resized_170x262_saki1Sakiko Ohashi, a native of Japan, began her piano studies at the age of four. By the time she was 10 years old, she was accepted to the Juilliard Pre-College Division as a student of Herbert Stessin. Since then, performances have taken her throughout the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe.

In 1996 Ms. Ohashi made her concerto debut at Lincoln Center in New York City, performing Baqrtok’s 3rd Concerto with the Juilliard Symphony conducted by Otto Werner Mueller. She is also the winner of the 1993 E. Nakamichi Concerto Competition at the Aspen Music Festival where she appeared with the Aspen Young Artists Orchestra. Her other concerto appearances have included the South Carolina Philharmonic, Florence Symphony Orchestra, New Orleans Civic Orchestra, Dover Symphony, Killington Music Festival Orchestra and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. In New York, her appearances have included venues such as Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, Juilliard Theatre and the Harvard Club.

An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated with members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Ohashi has appeared in numerous music festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival, Killington Music Festival, Orford Centre for the Arts, Banff Center for teh Arts, Fontainebleau Music Festival in France, Glassboro Summer Session and Mozarteum Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria.

She holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School and has taught at the Greenwich House of Music in New York and at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Tennessee. From 2002 to 2008 Ms. Ohashi served as Assistant Chair of Music at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts teaching piano, theory and chamber music ensembles. In 2004 she founded the New Orleans Chamber Music Festival. A dedicated teacher, her students have won numerous competitions locally and nationally.

resized_170x254_pompa_baldiAntonio Pompa-Baldi was born and raised in Foggia, Italy, Antonio Pompa-Baldi won the Cleveland International Piano Competition in 1999 and embarked on a career that continues to extend across five continents. A top prize winner at the 1998 Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition of Paris, France, Antonio Pompa-Baldi also won a silver medal at the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Mr. Pompa-Baldi appears regularly at the world’s major concert venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Paris’ Salle Pleyel, Milan’s Sala Verdi, Shanghai’s Grand Theatre, and Boston’s Symphony Hall. He performed in London, Tokyo, Seoul, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Kiev, Auckland, Hong Kong, and Beijing, where he played a recital in the Forbidden City Concert Hall and conducted Master Classes at the China National Conservatory, being named Honorary Guest Professor of that institution. Pompa-Baldi has played with the Houston Symphony, Berliner Symphoniker, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Boston Pops, and Colorado Symphony, among many others. He has collaborated with great musicians and conductors such as Hans Graf, James Conlon, Louis Lane, Keith Lockhart, and Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

His extensive recording catalogue features 20 CDs and is constantly growing. Among his recordings, the entire piano repertoire of Grieg for Centaur Records in twelve CDs, a live recital of his award-winning Cliburn Competition performances on Harmonia Mundi, and “The Rascal and the Sparrow-Poulenc meets Piaf”, piano arrangements of songs by Francis Poulenc and Edith Piaf on the Steinway Label. His CD, “After a reading of Liszt”, is a tribute to Liszt recorded live in recital at the Stellenbosch Conservatory, and released by the South African label TwoPianists. For Centaur Records, he has also recorded an all-Schumann disc, an all-Rachmaninoff CD, as well as the Rheinberger Piano Sonatas. Pompa-Baldi is now recording the complete Hummel Piano Sonatas. The first two volumes are already available, with a third scheduled to be released in the near future.

In May 2014, Pompa-Baldi completed live performances of all the Rachmaninoff Concertos and Paganini Rhapsody with the Cape Town Philharmonic. In January 2015, he performed a recital at the First Lang Lang International Piano Festival in Shenzhen, China. In March 2015, he performed all the Beethoven Concertos in Fresno, CA, under the baton of Maestro Theodore Kuchar. Other recent notable engagements include the Cheyenne Symphony (Respighi Piano Concerto), Nova Scotia Symphony (Rachmaninoff Second and Third Piano Concertos), and recitals in Wenzhou and Xiamen (China), San Jose, CA, Ravello Festival, Todi International Music Masters festival, and the island of Sardinia, Italy.

A Steinway artist, Mr. Pompa-Baldi is on the piano faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is the founder and faculty member of Todi International Music Masters, a summer Festival in Italy, and sits on the juries of the most prestigious piano competitions of the world, including the Cleveland International Piano Competition, the Hilton Head Piano Competition, the International Edvard Grieg Piano Competition in Bergen, Norway, and the San Jose International Piano Competition.

resized_170x224_prattAmong his generation of concert pianists, pianist Awadagin Pratt is acclaimed for his musical insight and intensely involving performances in recital and with symphony orchestras.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pratt began studying piano at age six. Three years later after moving with his family to Normal, Illinois, he began studying violin. He entered the University of Illinois at 16 where he studied piano, violin and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he became the first student in the school’s history to receive diplomas in three performance areas: piano, violin and conducting. In recognition of this achievement and for his work in the field of classical music, Mr. Pratt recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins.

In 1992 Mr. Pratt won the Naumburg International Piano Competition and two years later was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Since then, he has played numerous recitals throughout the US including performances at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. His many orchestral performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra and the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, National, Detroit and New Jersey symphonies among many others. Summer festival engagements include Ravinia, Blossom, Wolf trap, Caramoor and Aspen, the Hollywood Bowl and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Tokyo.

As a conductor, Mr. Pratt participated in the American Symphony Orchestra League and Conductor’s Guild workshops and the National Conducting Institute where he worked closely with Leonard Slatkin and conducted the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. He has also conducted the Toledo, New Mexico, Vancouver WA, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe and Prince George County symphonies, the Northwest Sinfonietta, the Concertante di Chicago and several orchestras in Japan.

Mr. Pratt is a strong advocate of music education, and participates in numerous residency and outreach activities wherever he appears. these activities may include master classes, children’s recitals, play/talk demonstrations and question/answer sessions for students of all ages.