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APA’s classical competition culminates in Discovery Week, April 15-20

The American Pianists Association’s yearlong competition, the 2013 ProLiance Energy Classical Fellowship Awards, culminates in Classical Discovery Week in Indianapolis from April 15 to April 20. Music lovers worldwide can tune in via live webcasts to watch the Grand Finals on April 19 and 20 as the Finalists perform concertos with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, led by Gerard Schwarz; the webcasts will be hosted at  The webcasts and competition will conclude with the naming of the winner, APA’s 2013 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow: a musician with the potential to make significant contributions to American cultural life. Five Finalists  – Sean Chen, Sara Daneshpour, Claire Huangci, Andrew Staupe and Eric Zuber – are vying for the prize, which is valued at more than $100,000 and is one of the most lucrative available to an American pianist. Former U.S. Secretary of State and noted amateur pianist Condoleezza Rice is the Honorary Chair of the APA’s Classical Fellowship Awards.  The WFMT Radio Network will document the April concerts (solo recitals, chamber music, new music, a song recital and the gala finals) for a nationally syndicated radio series to air in the fall of 2013. 
Guest artists for the Discovery Week concerts are: soprano Jessica Rivera as soloist for the song recital (April 18); the Linden String Quartet for the daily chamber music recitals (April 15-19); and Gerard Schwarz as conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (April 19, 20).  The five APA-commissioned works by Lisa Bielawa, Margaret Brouwer, Gabriela Lena Frank, Missy Mazzoli and Sarah Kirkland Snider will be given their world premieres by the Finalists at the New Music Recital on April 15. 
On April 25, New York City’s Trinity Wall Street will present the American Pianists Association’s newly selected winner and the four other Finalists in its Concerts at One series, where the young pianists will perform the New York premieres of those same works by Bielawa, Brouwer, Frank, Mazzoli and Snider. APA’s 2013 Classical Fellow will then be presented in his or her first post-competition solo broadcast on April 26 at 4 pm on “Drive Time Live” via WGBH FM / Classical New England.
“Classical pianists today need to be prepared to cover a number of professional engagements that might variously include solo concerts, concerti, chamber music and working with singers,” said Joel Harrison, the APA’s President/CEO and Artistic Director. “With that idea in mind, we created a season-long competition that combines all these aspects, giving our five Finalists a full range of expressive opportunities in several musical genres. In so doing, I believe that the Classical Fellowship Awards mirror the professional world of a performing pianist. What better way to advance careers of emerging pianists than to provide professional opportunities for them as part of a competition process!”
From September 2012 through February 2013, each Finalist performed a concerto with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra as part of their individual weeklong residencies in Indianapolis. An international panel of judges adjudicated the various solo recitals and concerts, and another distinguished group will do so for April’s Classical Discovery Week.
A public art project called piano pARTs will be unveiled on April 11 to celebrate the American Pianists Association’s Classical Fellowship Awards. Eight artists were selected to create artworks using pianos as their canvas. Four of the artists have painted grand pianos and four have deconstructed and used the parts of a piano to create a sculpture. The completed pieces will be displayed on Monument Circle in Indianapolis throughout Discovery Week, the final week of the APA’s competition. For more information visit
About the Competition Finalists
Sean Chen, 24, was second-prize winner of the 2011 Seoul International Music Competition and a prizewinner in the 2009 Cleveland International Piano Competition. Born in Margate, FL, and raised in Oak Park, CA, he has performed in Bucharest, Seoul, Taiwan, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Miami and New York. Chen received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Juilliard School, where he won the 2010 Gina Bachauer Piano Competition; he is pursuing his Artist Diploma at Yale University. His teachers have included Jerome Lowenthal, Matti Raekallio and teacher-mentor Edward Francis.
“Pianist Chen leaves New West Symphony audiences ‘Spellbound’ … He brought piquant charm and prodigious fingerwork to play in Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini, and a lush and ruminative spirit to Miklós Rózsa’s ‘Spellbound’ concerto.” – Ventura County Star
Sara Daneshpour, 25, won first prize at the XII Concours International de Musique du Maroc (Morocco, 2012), was the second-prize winner of the 2007 William Kapell International Piano Competition, first-prize and Gold Medal winner of the 2007 International Russian Music Piano Competition, and first-prize winner of the 2003 Beethoven Society of America Competition. She joined the roster of Astral Artists as winner of the 2010 National Auditions. Daneshpour has performed in her hometown of Washington, D.C., as well as in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Russia, Germany, Finland, Estonia, Denmark and Sweden. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, studying under Leon Fleisher, and is now pursuing her Master’s degree at Juilliard with Yoheved Kaplinsky.
“She created transfixing poetry,” – Washington Post
“Sensational – strength, finesse, passion; it was all there.” – San Jose Mercury News
Claire Huangci, 22, won first prize in the 2010 National Chopin Piano Competition in Miami and was a laureate in the 2010 Queen Elisabeth International Piano Competition. She made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2003 and has since performed with orchestras in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, St. Petersburg, Moscow and China. Born in Rochester, NY, Huangci entered Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School at age 7 and did her undergraduate work at the Curtis Institute of Music. She is currently studying at the Hochschule für Musik in Hanover, Germany, with Professor Arie Vardi.
“The pianist displays the same talent once reserved for Vladimir Horowitz: phenomenal basses, dynamic phrases and a great feel for timbres.” – Allegemeine Zeitung
Andrew Staupe, 28, recently made his Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall as recipient of the 2011 Pro Musicis International Award, and he was the Gold Medalist of the 2010 Young Texas Artists Music Competition. The St. Paul, MN, native has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra and has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe, appearing at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, as well as in Russia, Latvia, Romania, France, Germany and Bulgaria. Staupe received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota with Lydia Artymiw, and he is currently completing his DMA in piano performance at Rice University in Houston with Jon Kimura Parker.
“Mr. Staupe gave a brilliant performance, handling the virtuosic demands with apparent ease, capturing the savage without ever resorting to pounding, and maintaining a tremendous level of stamina and power. … I was stunned – this was one of the most incredible performances of this masterpiece [Villa-Lobos’s Rudepoema] I have ever heard, live or recorded … a once-in-a-lifetime performance!” – New York Concert Review
Eric Zuber, 27, has won major prizes in nine international piano competitions: the Cleveland, Arthur Rubinstein, Seoul, Sydney, Dublin, Minnesota, Hilton Head, Honens and Bösendorfer competitions. The Baltimore, MD, native made his orchestral debut at age 12 with the Baltimore Symphony and has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Korean Symphony and Ireland’s RTE National Symphony, among others. Zuber holds degrees from the Peabody Institute, Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School, and he is currently pursuing his DMA at Peabody. His teachers have included Boris Slutsky, Leon Fleisher, Claude Frank and Robert McDonald.
“Zuber held the audience in the palms of his hands [in Liszt’s Sonata in B minor]. Under the wrong circumstances, this piece can sound like a bag of virtuosic tricks, but Zuber shaped it with a keen ear for both the score’s celestial lyricism and diabolical ferocity.” – Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Guest Artists
Internationally recognized for his moving performances, innovative programming and extensive catalogue of recordings, American conductor Gerard Schwarz serves as music director of the All-Star Orchestra, an ensemble of musicians from America’s leading orchestras who are collaborating in a public television series designed to encourage a greater understanding and enjoyment of classical music. He is music director of the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina and conductor laureate of the Seattle Symphony. In his nearly five decades as a respected classical musician and conductor, Schwarz has received numerous honors and accolades, including two Emmy Awards, 13 Grammy nominations, six ASCAP Awards and numerous Stereo Review and Ovation Awards. He holds the Ditson Conductor’s Award from Columbia University, was the first American named Conductor of the Year by Musical America, and has received numerous honorary doctorates. A graduate of the Juilliard School, Schwarz joined the New York Philharmonic in 1972 as co-principal trumpeter, a position he held until 1977. Schwarz’s various previous positions include music director of New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, music director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and of the New York Chamber Symphony.
Possessing a voice praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for its “effortless precision and tonal luster,” Jessica Rivera has established herself as one of the most creatively inspired vocal artists before the public today. She infuses her performances on the top international concert and opera stages with great intelligence, dimension, and spirituality, qualities that have garnered Rivera unique artistic opportunities with many of today’s most celebrated composers, including John Adams, Osvaldo Golijov and Nico Muhly. She has collaborated with such esteemed conductors as Bernard Haitink, Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano and Michael Tilson Thomas. Committed to the art of recital, Rivera has performed in concert halls from New York to Los Angeles, from San Francisco to Santa Fe. In past seasons – to support a recital disc on the Urtext Records label of works for soprano, clarinet and piano – Rivera toured North America with concerts in Los Angeles, New York (Carnegie Hall), Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and Chicago (Ravinia Festival). She also gave a recital program at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, accompanied at the piano by Robert Spano. She was deeply honored to receive a commission from Carnegie Hall for a song cycle by Nico Muhly, and she gave the world premiere of The Adulteress at her Weill Hall recital.
Described as “polished, radiant and incisive” by the Strad magazine, the Linden String Quartet is a winner of the 2010 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. Founded in spring 2008 at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the group has enjoyed remarkable success in four short years, having also garnered the Gold Medal and Grand Prize of the 2009 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Coleman-Barstow Prize at the 2009 Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition, First Prize at the 2010 Hugo Kauder Competition and, most recently, the ProQuartet Prize at the 9th Borciani International String Quartet Competition. Praised for “performances of consummate artistry and near-flawless execution” (Classical Voice of North Carolina), the Linden String Quartet was also selected for the prestigious 2011 A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Fellowship.
About the American Pianists Association Fellowship
Recognized by the New York Times for offering “profound early-career assistance” to world-class American classical and jazz pianists, the American Pianists Association is showcasing the five Finalists for its Classical Fellowship Awards throughout the 2012-13 season. The APA’s Fellowship offers one of the piano world’s most substantial prizes, valued at more than $100,000 – including a $50,000 cash award and two years of career assistance and performances. Performance opportunities during the Fellowship period involve solo recitals, as well as appearances with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Santa Fe and Tucson. Previous winners have been presented at the Kennedy Center, Phillips Collection, Dame Myra Hess Series and Chopin Foundation of America, as well as various recital series nationwide and on tours overseas. 
On April 20, one of the current Finalists will be named the APA’s 2013 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow. Steinway is the official piano of the 2013 Fellowship, and the chosen Fellow will issue a solo recording on the Steinway label, for distribution by ArkivMusic.
Unlike any other major piano competition, the APA focuses equally on classical and jazz pianists. The prize is awarded every two years on an alternating basis to a classical or a jazz pianist at the conclusion of the unique competition process that Performance Today radio host Fred Child has described as a “massive musical competition undertaking.” Since 1992, the Association has offered Jazz Fellowships, with a similar cash award of $50,000 – the largest available in the jazz piano world. The 2011 Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz was Aaron Diehl, hailed by the New York Times as a “revelation.” Former Jazz Fellows include Dan Tepfer (2007) and Aaron Parks (2001). The next Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz will be named in April 2015.
American Pianists Association Mission
The mission of the American Pianists Association is to discover, promote and advance the careers of young American classical and jazz pianists of world-class talent. Since its founding in 1979, the organization has supported 43 Fellows. The 2009 Classical Fellows are Adam Golka, also a Gilmore Young Artist, who impressed the Washington Post with his “combination of brilliant technique and real emotional depth”; and Grace Fong, a “positively magical” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition. Among the previous Classical Fellows are Spencer Myer (2006), Christopher Taylor (2000), Frederic Chiu (1985) and Sara Davis Buechner (1981). The American Pianists Association was founded in 1979 as the Beethoven Foundation. In 1982, two of its founders, Victor Borge and Tony Habig, moved the national headquarters to Indianapolis.
Schedule of American Pianists Association “Discovery Week” Events
2013 ProLiance Energy Classical Fellowship Awards of the American Pianists Association
Condoleezza Rice, Honorary Chair
Note: All events take place in Indianapolis unless otherwise indicated.
April 15, 2013, noon
Discovery Week; Christ Church Cathedral
Solo recital and Dvorák: Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81
Eric Zuber, piano; Linden String Quartet
April 15, 2013, 7:30pm
Discovery Week; Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall
New Music Recital: Premieres of APA-commissioned works by Lisa Bielawa, Margaret Brouwer, Gabriela Lena Frank, Missy Mazzoli and Sarah Kirkland Snider
April 16, 2013, noon
Discovery Week; Christ Church Cathedral
Solo recital and Schumann: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44
Sara Daneshpour, piano; Linden String Quartet
April 17, 2013, noon
Discovery Week; Christ Church Cathedral
Solo recital and Shostakovich: Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57
Claire Huangci, piano; Linden String Quartet
April 18, 2013, noon
Discovery Week; Christ Church Cathedral
Solo recital and Brahms: Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34
Andrew Staupe, piano; Linden String Quartet
April 18, 2013, 7:30pm
Discovery Week; Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center
Song Recital
Jessica Rivera, soprano with all five APA Finalists
April 19, 2013, noon
Discovery Week; Christ Church Cathedral
Solo recital and Dohnányi: Piano Quintet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 1
Sean Chen, piano; Linden String Quartet
April 19, 2013, 8pm
Discovery Week; Hilbert Circle Theatre
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra / Gerard Schwarz
Gala Finals
Sara Daneshpour  – Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor
Claire Huangci – Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major
Eric Zuber – Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor
View the webcast:
April 20, 2013, 8pm
Discovery Week; Hilbert Circle Theatre
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra / Gerard Schwarz
Sean Chen – Bartók: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major
Andrew Staupe – Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor
Gala Finals and naming of the winner: 
2013 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow of the American Pianists Association
View the webcast:
April 25, 1pm
New York, NY
Trinity Church (Wall Street & Broadway) 
Concerts at One
Performances by all competition pianists (including the winner, who will be named on April 20): Sean Chen, Sara Daneshpour, Claire Huangci, Andrew Staupe and Eric Zuber
New York premieres of APA-commissioned works by Lisa Bielawa, Margaret Brouwer, Gabriela Lena Frank, Missy Mazzoli and Sarah Kirkland Snider
April 26, 2013, 4pm
Boston, MA
WGBH / Classical New England
Drive Time Live 
First solo broadcast featuring the 2013 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow of the American Pianists Association
Listen live:
For further information, contact
Wende Persons, 21C Media Group: [email protected]; 917-691-1282; 
Joel Harrison, President/CEO & Artistic Director, American Pianists Association: [email protected]; 317-940-9945










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