Young Jazz Pianists Battle It Out In Inaugural Competition

Music to Fill Gleason Saturday and Sunday

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Jazz will fill Gleason Performing Arts Center this weekend as up and coming pianists battle for supremacy in the inaugural American Jazz Pianist Competition hosted by Florida Institute of Technology.

Starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, for the semi-finals and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, for the finals, the nation’s top young jazz pianists between 15 and 25 years old will compete for over $10,000 in prizes. They will perform both solo and with a bass and drums trio.

Overseen by artistic director Jeremy Siskind, an internationally recognized pianist and past winner of the 2012 Nottingham International Jazz Piano Competition, the competition is meant to “increase the exposure, interest and enjoyment of jazz music to a wide range of the music audience in all age groups,” and particularly younger listeners, according to event organizers.

In addition to serving as host, Florida Tech is involved in the event in other ways: Jamie Younkin, chair of the university’s music program, serves on the competition board, and Winston Scott, an accomplished trumpeter as well as the senior vice president for external relations and economic development, has assisted, as well.

The finals of the competition, from 5-6:30 p.m. Sunday, will be simulcast on Florida Tech’s WFIT 89.5 FM radio station.

The finals judges also have a Florida Tech feel: among the three is Christian Tamburr, the university’s music artist in residence and an internationally touring vibraphonist and pianist who won the “Outstanding Solo Jazz Performer” award and the “2013 Critics Choice Top Rising Star” award.

The other judges are Doug Johnson, a pianist, educator and associate professor of piano at Berklee College of Music in Boston; and Edward Simon, a Guggenheim Fellow and member of the SF Jazz Collective who has recorded 10 critically-acclaimed albums as leader and appeared as guest artist on more than 50 additional recordings.

Here are the schedules for Saturday and Sunday at Gleason:

Saturday semi-finals:
1:30-4 p.m.: trio semi-finals
6-8:30 p.m.: solo semi-finals
9 p.m.: finalists announced

Sunday finals:
2-4 p.m.: trio finals
5-6:30 p.m.: solo finals (live on WFIT)
6:30 p.m.: announcements and recognitions (live on WFIT)

Semi-finals tickets are $20 per person, free to Florida Tech students. Finals are $20 per person. A single ticket for both days is $35. Tickets are available at


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