American Pianists Association announces
Aaron Diehl as 2011 Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz
(L-R) Winner Aaron Diehl, President/CEO/Artistic Director
Dr. Joel Harrison, Vocalist/NPR "JazzSet" Host Dee Dee Bridgewater,
and Indianapolis Mayor Gregory A. Ballard, pictured after the Finals.
Photo Credit: Mark Sheldon.
American Pianists Association is proud to announce
pianist Aaron Diehl as the winner of the 2011 Cole Porter Fellowship in
Jazz competition. The announcement was made after the final round of performances
on Saturday, April 16 at Indianapolis' Athenaeum Theatre, which concluded the organization's
Jazz Discovery Week.
25 year-old Diehl, selected from a field of five finalists, was granted a
cash prize of $50,000, the largest prize in the world for a young jazz pianist.
Additionally, over the course of two years, Diehl will receive in-kind career development
with the value of an additional $50,000.
During Jazz Discovery Week (April 10-16), the five finalists were judged
in concert at a variety of venues throughout Indianapolis. Jazz Discovery Week
jury members included: Jazz pianists Geri Allen, John Taylor and
Danilo Pérez, as well as New York Times music critic Nate Chinen,
and Mack Avenue Records Executive Vice-President Al Pryor.
Semi-finals took place over two sets on April 15 at The Jazz Kitchen. Each pianist
was allotted two 20-minute sets with the house rhythm section. The final round was
judged on April 16 at The Athenaeum, hosted by Voice of America's Russ Davis.
Each pianist performed a traditional jazz standard in duo format with Dee Dee
Bridgewater, followed by a contemporary jazz standard in big band format, accompanied
by The Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra
Both sets of the semi-finals and finals were broadcasted live on WFYI-FM, Indianapolis'
NPR affiliate. The finals were also live-webstreamed via the APA website and will
be archived at a later date. Portions of the semi-finals and finals will be used
for future broadcasts on NPR's "JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater" and Voice of America's
"Reflecting on the overall process, if it was not for the encouragement of pianist
Adam Birnbaum (the 2004 Cole Porter Fellow), I would not have even applied!" says
Diehl. "I had tried for the Fellowship twice previously, and never did make
it to the Semi-Finals. I thought 'Why try again?' Adam showed me how important it
was to support each other as developing artists. As a Fellow, I hope to continue
in that spirit and find ways to collaborate with some of the many outstanding young
musicians out here."
According to Dr. Joel Harrison, President/CEO and Artistic Director of the
American Pianists Association, almost two years ago, an initial jury heard and reviewed,
in anonymous fashion, CDs submitted by 40 pianists nominated for the awards before
selecting thee five finalists. The preliminary round was held in Indianapolis last
May by a group of five nationally distinguished professionals.
"All aspects of the planning process came together to produce a week of memorable
events, most outstanding being the semi-final sets on Friday night at The Jazz Kitchen
and the Finals at the Athenaeum on Saturday night," states Harrison. "Dee
Dee Bridgewater's performances with our five Finalists were deeply rewarding
to me, and to all who heard them. On this particular occasion, she was truly without
peer. Our new winner, Aaron Diehl, will be a superb ambassador for American
Pianists Association and the jazz genre in general, and I commend our jury for its
wise choice. We all have much to celebrate!"
Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as "The most promising discovery that [Wynton] Marsalis
has made since Eric Reed," Diehl's distinctive interpretations of the music
of Scott Joplin, "Jelly Roll" Morton, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, and other masters
pay homage to the tradition while establishing his own original voice.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Diehl was asked to tour with the Wynton Marsalis
Septet immediately following high school graduation. A 2007 Juilliard School graduate
- where he studied with Kenny Barron, Eric Reed, and Oxana Yablonskaya - Diehl has
performed with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Boston Symphony Orchestra,
Hank Jones, Wycliffe Gordon, Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson, and Benny Golson, among
others. Diehl has been featured on Marian McPartland's nationally syndicated NPR
program, "Piano Jazz."
He currently resides in Manhattan, where he serves as music director of St. Joseph
of the Holy Family Church in Harlem.
The mission of the American Pianists Association is to advance the careers of American
jazz and classical pianists between the ages of 18 - 30. The organization was founded
in 1979 in New York City and has been in Indianapolis since 1982.
For additional information, please contact:
DL Media | 124 N Highland Ave | Bala Cynwyd | PA | 19004
American Pianists Association
The American Pianists Association is supported by the Arts Council and the City
of Indianapolis, Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Lilly Endowment,
Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, Christel DeHaan Family Foundation in honor of
the children and families of Christel House, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the
Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts,
a federal agency and in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts,
Visit the American Pianists Association's new website, at http://www.americanpianists.org.
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