Our panel of jurors, selected by invitation each year, represents success in both the teaching and performance arena.

Hailed as concert pianists, professors, chamber musicians, collaborative artists, composers, and directors of summer music festivals, each juror brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table when evaluating young participants.

Each juror has studied with reputable teachers across the globe, thereby adding historical knowledge and performance practice to comments that render a final competitive decision.

Now in its seventh year, our panel boasts artists from Austria, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and the United States.

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.

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.

Nix Tong

Once recognized as a top music talent in his generation, Mr. Nix 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 Victoria Mushkatkol, 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 has recorded several CDs. Currently, he  holds a faculty position in San Jose State University, California, USA .



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).


Sophia Gilmson

Sophia Gilmson, Russian-born pianist, graduated cum laude from the Leningrad (St. Petersburg ) Conservatory, where she studied with Professor Vitaly Margulis. She is a recipient of numerous awards, among which are the First Prize in the Young Artists Competition in New York City, followed by a recital in Carnegie Hall, and the Piano International Recording Competition. Radio Leningrad, Radio Vatican, WQXR and WNYC in New York City, among others, have broadcast her performances.

She has concertized extensively in her native Russia, Italy, and the United States to a high critical acclaim. Carl Cunningham of The Houston Post described Ms. Gilmson’s playing as a “…brilliant, driving performance.” Michael Huebner, of the Austin American-Statesman, referred to her performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations as “one of the most refreshing and thought-provoking performances this season.” In 2001, she was awarded the prestigious Mount Everest Award by the Austin Critics Table for this performance, in which she played the Goldberg Variations on harpsichord and piano in the same evening. Michael Barnes, chief arts critic of the Austin American-Statesman, ranked this as one of the top ten arts events of 2001, calling it “unforgettable”. In the celebration of its 20th anniversary, Austin’s Performing Arts Center included this concert in the list of twenty most memorable programs of its history, one per year.

Sophia Gilmson is active as a teacher as well as a performer. Her students have won major prizes on state, national, and international levels. Her unique pedagogical skills are universally recognized at both pre-college and collegiate levels. She has received an array of excellence in teaching awards, including 2001 Collegiate Teaching Achievement Award of Texas.

Dedicated educator, Sophia Gilmson is the co-founder of both Houston and Austin Young Artists Concerts, the programs designed for musically gifted children. Sophia has been an artistic director for both programs for twenty years, since its inception in 1987 to 2007. These programs were hailed as “outstanding,” “fabulous,” “unique,” and “cultural treasures” by musicians from all over the country.

She presented papers, master-classes and lectures at the World Piano Pedagogy Conferences, Music Teachers National Association Conventions as well as various state conventions and international music festivals.

She has been published in Keyboard Companion, official journal of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy.

Siok Lian Tan

Dr. Siok Lian Tan teaches applied piano and piano pedagogy, and coordinates the class piano program in the Department of Music. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano from University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).

A native of Penang, Malaysia, Tan went to Cincinnati in 1988 as a scholarship student of Frank Weinstock at CCM. She has been heard in live broadcasts on Cincinnati Public Radio Station WGUC and has appeared as soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Oxford Chamber Orchestra, and Miami University Symphony Orchestra. An active pianist, Tan has presented solo and chamber music concerts in major cities such as New York, Chicago, Luxembourg, Cologne, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Adelaide, and London, including a solo recital at the St. Martin-in-the-Fields concert series. She performs regularly with her violinist husband, Tze Yean Lim. Tan can also be heard on the recording, James Lentini: Chamber Music, released by Naxos.

As a clinician, Tan has presented lectures at the College Music Society-Great Lakes Conference, Ohio Music Teachers’ State Conference, the National Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Forum, and the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. She has also written articles for the Piano Pedagogy ForumAmerican Music Teacher, and Clavier Companion.

Mac McClure

Mac McClure is internationally recognized for his profound and in depth knowledge of Spanish music.  In the words of Xavier Montsalvatge “ Mac knows my music just as well if not better than me, and is an excellent performer of Falla, Mompou, and Granados and is one of the most outstanding protégés of the Marshall Academy. “   When Columna Musica began the complete recording of Montsalvatge’s music, the composer asked Mac McClure to record and to supervise the recordings. He has recorded more than 40 cds for Columna Musica. Including the world premier recording for the songs by Albeniz, the first recording for the complete version of the Granados quintet, as well as the complete songs and 3 cds of piano music by Frederic Mompou. He studied at the Marshall academy in Barcelona with Carlota Garriga and worked closely for nine years with Alicia de Larrocha.

He is CPO of Spanish Independent Labels, company that exports recordings of Spanish independent labels. As an editor he as revised and edited the Albeniz songs ( with co editor Fran Barulich) as well as piano works by Manel Valls, Joaquin Cassado, and piano pieces by Frederic Mompou

He is Associate Professor and director of the graduate keyboard studies program at the National University in Bogotá Colombia.  In August 2011 he was appointed Director of the National Conservatory of Music, part of the National university of Colombia in Bogota.

María del Carmen Gil Venzal

With over 20 years of expertise directing programmatic vision and design, I have led higher education and music organizations toward the achievement of strategic goals and successful initiatives. My entrepreneurial spirit and extensive experience in building collaborative partnerships, cultivating professional networks, and managing capital campaigns has promoted the advancement and global presence of institutions. While adept in management positions, I have performed extensively as a pianist in solo recitals, orchestra soloist, duo piano ensemble, chamber music, and collaborative piano within concerts, master classes, workshops, lectures, and seminars throughout Puerto Rico, the United States, and Latin America

Carmel Klavier Asia
Chengdu, China
Founded in 2019
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Carmel Klavier Latinoamérica
Bogotá, Colombia
Founded in 2020
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