2020 Competition Jury

Tong Xin

Once recognized as a top music talent in his generation, Mr. Xin Tong has given solo, concerto, and chamber concerts in premier concert halls in Asia, America, and Europe. From 2000 to 2010, Mr. Tong has competed and won prizes in many international piano competitions, such as Cincinnati World Piano Competition and Woodmere International Competition. He was also a semi-finalist at Warsaw Chopin International Piano Competition.

A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, Mr. Tong worked with many world-renowned pianists and musicians, such as Fou Ts’ong, Jerome Lowenthal, Peter Serkin, Richard Goode, Peter Frankl, Zhaoyi Dan, Xiaosheng Zhao, and Guarneri Quartet. As an educator himself, Mr. Tong was a teaching fellow at Bard Conservatory of Music and a member of piano faculty at Shenzhen Arts School.

Mr. Tong is also a technology inventor and entrepreneur. He received a science degree from Yale College in computer science and electrical engineering. His works and patents in cloud computing and machine learning have earned him praises and recognitions such as the Sheffield Prize for Engineering.

Namik Sultanov

Namik Sultanov is well-known as a distinguished pianist and pedagogue with exceptional lyrical gifts and a distinctive performance style. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, he showed extraordinary musical talent from a very early age. Playing violin and flute, he was a serious student of composition in his youth, composing more than 150 pieces that were featured at music school concerts. Although at that time a string student, he won first prize in the music school’s piano competition. At 12, deeply impressed by Van Cliburn’s stunning performance at the First Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, he began to self-study Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. Practicing day and night, he soon played all three movements for Ahad Israfilzade, chief conductor of the Azerbaijan Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Israfilzade immediately asked him to play with the Philharmonic, and the triumphant concert was a big sensation in the musical life of this capital city. 

After this success, the Azerbaijan government sponsored Namik at Russia’s most prestigious conservatory, Moscow’s Central Special Music School.  He studied under Professor Lev Naumov, a follower of the legendary Heinrich Neuhaus.  Continuing his education under Professor Naumov’s supervision at the Moscow State Conservatory, he received his doctorate in performance in 1973. After graduation, he was invited to join  the faculty of the Azerbaijan State Conservatory, soon appointed an associate professor with the added title “Honor Artist of the Azerbaijan Republic”. 

            Participating in numerous national festivals throughout Eastern Europe, Dr. Sultanov represented his country at International Music Festival in Moscow, International Piano Festival in Istanbul, the International Music Festival in Mexico City and the International Music Festival in Germany.

He has performed in various concert venues including Great Hall of the Moscow Conseravatory, in San Francisco Bay Area,  in New York City (Carnegie Hall), Vancouver, Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Mexico City,

St. Petersburg, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Tallinn, and Baku.   

            In 1991, Dr. Sultanov was invited to join the piano faculty of Turkey’s Bilkent University, where he chaired the Piano Department and was Vice Dean of the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts. During his teaching years in Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the United States, he nurtured many students who have become winners and laureates in regional, national, and international piano competitions. In 1999, the Turkish Ministry of Culture formally recognized his distinguished teaching. Dr. Sultanov has been invited to serve on juries for national and international competitions and is sought for master classes in Europe, Canada, Mexico  and USA . He recorded  several CDs. Currently, he  holds a faculty position in San Jose State University, California, USA .

Eugene Pridonoff

Eugene Pridonoff’s performing and pedagogical career has spanned over five decades. A laureate in the Leventritt, Montreal, Brazil, and Tchaikowsky competitions he has performed with major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Phoenix Symphony, Central Opera Orchestra of Beijing, and the San Salvador Symphony Orchestra, under such conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Izler Solomon, Andre Kostelanetz, Michael Gielen, Frederic Prausnitz, Nicholas Harsanyi, Howard Mitchell, John Barnett, Gerhard Samuel, William Smith, Lawrence Leighton Smith and Keith Lockhart. He has also performed recitals throughout the U.S., Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Mexico City, San Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, Seoul, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Prague, and at festivals in Barcelona, Belgium and Italy.

 Upon graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horsowski, he accepted an invitation to teach at Temple University where he also received an MM in piano studying with Eleanor Sokoloff.  He also held positions as professor and artist-in-residence at Iowa State University, Arizona State University, and for thirty-five years at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music until his retirement as an Emeritus Professor in 2015.  Former students of Eugene and Elisabeth Pridonoff have won first-place in the Horowitz, Missouri Southern, American Pianists Association, Yokohama International Music Competition, Chopin International Competition in Asia, Shreveport Wideman, Midland-Odessa, and major awards in the United States Chopin, Hilton Head, Joanna Hodges, Los Angeles International Liszt, and the Bronze Award at the NTD International Piano Competition.  Hundreds of their former students hold positions in universities, conservatories, opera companies, and music organizations throughout the United States, Asia (China Conservatory in Beijing, China East Normal University in Shanghai, Sichuan Conservatory, Seoul National University, Taipei National University of the Arts, University of Ping Tung), Japan, Canada, Mexico, Europe and are successful independent teachers throughout the world.

 

Eugene Pridonoff has made over twenty trips to Japan where he teaches at the Ichionkai School in Tokyo, and he has performed in Tokyo, Sapporo, Yamagata, Osaka, and Sendai. For many summers he performed and taught at the Prague International Masterclasses, the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy, International Piano Week of Belgium, the Barcelona Festival and he was Co-Artistic Director with Elisabeth Pridonoff of the CCM Prague International Piano Institute. On the faculty of the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute & Festival and the Arizona Piano Institute, he continues to perform, adjudicate, give master classes and lectures at competitions, festivals, and for music teacher organizations to nurture the development of “Artist Citizens” for the unique challenges of the 21st Century.  A Steinway Artist, he has recorded for ablaze Records and Vienna Modern Masters.

 

Elisabeth Pridonoff

Elisabeth Pridonoff is internationally known as a pianist and pedagogue who was for thirty-five years Professor of Piano and Duo-in-Residence at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music.  Now Emerita Professor of Piano at UC-CCM, she continues to perform duo piano and chamber recitals, adjudicate major competitions, give master classes, and is on the faculty of the Brevard Music Center Festival and Institute, the Arizona Piano Institute, and Artist-in-Residence at David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.  A graduate of The Juilliard School she earned MM degrees in piano with Adele Marcus and Sasha Gorodnitzski and in voice with Hans Heinz and Anna Kaskas.

Elisabeth Pridonoff was first-place winner of national and international competitions including the Midland-Odessa, Shreveport, El Paso and Oklahoma City Symphony Competitions and has performed with the Nashville Symphony, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the Shreveport Symphony, the El Paso Symphony, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Boise Philharmonic, the Illinois Philharmonic, and Graz Festival Orchestra.  She has given performances and master classes all over the world including Tully and Merkin Halls in New York, Boston (Baltic Series), the Kennedy Center, Baltimore, Toronto Town Hall, Moscow Conservatory, Siena, Rome (by invitation from the U.S. Ambassador), Munich, London, Monterrey (Mexico) at the Sociedad Artistica Technologicao and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey, Mexico City at the National Conservatory of Mexico, Canada, Italy, Spain, Belgium, China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.  Other appearances include NPR’s The Sunday Show and St. Paul Sunday with Bill McGlaughlin, CBS Sunday Morning, and festival appearances at Chautauqua, San Luis Obispo Mozart, Arcady, Western Arts, Lyric Arts, Shreveport, and Graz. She has adjudicated national and international piano competitions including the Kapell, Virginia Waring, Chicago Symphony, Wideman, and World Piano.

 

Elisabeth and Eugene Pridonoff’s students have won prizes in the Second International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz in Kiev, Ukraine (First), Missouri Southern International (first, third and finalist): Ninth Biennial American Pianists Association National Piano Fellowship Audition (Fellowship Award); Shreveport Wideman (first, second); Midland-Odessa (first); Young Keyboard Artists Association (two seconds); Ibla (Italy) Grand Prize International Piano Competition (third); and the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition (second) and hold faculty positions internationally. Formerly Co-Artistic Director of the Prague International Piano Institute with Eugene Pridonoff, she has served on the faculties of International Piano Week of Belgium, the Barcelona Festival, and the Amalfi Festival. Elisabeth Pridonoff is a Steinway Artist and has recorded for Centaur, Toccata Classics, and ablaze Records.

Polina Tonchuk

Miss Tonchuk was born in Irkutsk to a family of musicians. She graduated Kemerovo College of music with excellence as a piano soloist, later on did her BA, MA and post-graduate degrees at Novosibirsk State Conservatory – all had done with excellence.
She is senior teacher of piano performance department of the Novosibirsk State Conservatory as well as faculty of the Novosibirsk Special Music.

The artistic carrier of Ms. Tonchuk based both on piano performance and science research. Ms. Tonchuk is prizewinner of 12 international competitions. Ms. Tonchuk intensively performs with orchestras as a soloist, appears a lot with recitals and chamber music programs in China, South Korea, Switzerland, Italy, San-Marino, Germany, Belgium Austria as well as in a big number of major cities in Russia. Since 2014 till 2018 Ms. Tonchuk participates the “Semper music International Festival” annually (Italy, South Tyrol). She participated in over 60 concerts in frames of this festival, performed solo and chamber music, was involved as collaborative pianist at master-classes of M. Maisky, V. Tretiakov, L. Isakadze, А. Rudin, B. Kushnir. She offers international master-classes as well.As a scientist Ms. Tonchuk successfully got her PhD degree in 2016 with the dissertation on «A fugue, as an universal art concept». She offers lectures on methodic and history of piano regularly on international and national science and practical conferences.

Ms. Tonchuk got an award «For notable achievements at chamber music performance».

Miss Tonchuk have been invited to teach as guest faculty to Musicfest Perugia – World Stars meet in Seoul under patronage of National assembly of South Korea (Seoul, South Korea, January 2017).

Ms. Tonchuk taught at International piano festival at San Marino as assistant of Maestro Danielle Petralia (2016).