Jury Members

Carsten Dürer

Duerer Photo

Carsten Dürer studied musicology, German and library sience at the University of Cologne, after he studied piano and viola. He played in different chamber music ensembles and orchestras and sang in choirs. During his studies he started to work as a freelance music journalist for newspapers and music magazines. After his exams he held two times the position of editor in chief of music magazines. 1994 he founded the publishing company STACCATO-Verlag, in which since 1997 the magazine “PIANONews”, a magazine for piano and since 2003 “ENSEMBLE” a magazine for chamber music is published. Carsten Dürer ist chief editor of both.

Beside this he is publishing books in these two specialized fields.Beside his journalistic work he write liner notes for booklets, gives concert introductions and workshops for students at German music academies. He often is member of juries of international piano and chamber music competitions all over the world.

Carsten Dürer is board member of the ECMTA („European Chamber Music Teachers Association“), of the private music academy „Anton Rubinstein Akademie“ and the „Musical Bridges“ Association in Israel. He also serves as member of the the jury of „ECHO Klassik“, the main German CD-Prize.

Nina Tichman


“Awesome” and “thrilling” are two of the adjectives used to describe Nina Tichman´s performances of Claude Debussy. In New York City, Frankfurt and other cities in Europe and the United States she held audiences spellbound with her traversal of the complete works in three evenings and her CDs with this repertoire have been called “because of her exquisite touch – the most beautiful recording of the complete works”.

Following her debut at the age of seventeen performing Beethoven´s “Emperor” Concerto Nina Tichman appeared in major venues including Carnegie Hall, the Cologne Philharmonie, the Berlin Konzerthaus and the Salzburg Festspielhaus. She has worked with prominent conductors such as Moshe Atzmon, Leon Barzin, Aaron Copland, Dmitri Kitaenko and Louis Langrée, appearing with the Bamberger Sinfoniker, the Symphony Orchestras of the Bayerische, Hessische and Norddeutsche radio stations, the Baltimore und St. Louis Symphonies. Concert tours throughout North America, Asia, and Europe with appearances at major festivals such as Marlboro, Tanglewood, International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove, Styriarte, Frankfurt Feste, Rheingau Musikfestival, have established her as “one of the leading pianists of her generation”.

She is at home in repertoire ranging from Frescobaldi to composers writing today, many of whom have entrusted her with world premieres of their compositions. Her discography includes music by Bartók, Beethoven, Copland (Complete Works for Piano), Chopin, Corigliano, Fauré, V.D. Kirchner, Mendelssohn, Penderecki, und Reger.

Yuri Didenko

IMG_18431Yuri Didenko was born in Ukraine in 1966. Studied music at the Central Musical school un­der the Moscow Conservatoire with Alexander Mndoyants and at the Moscow Conservatoire with professor Merzhanov, later became assistant to professor Merzhanov. Since 2005, has his own piano class at the same Conservatoire. Winner of the first pianoforte prize as well as Grand Pris and Crystal Bowl at the International Young Concert Artists Competition in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Great Britain, 1992. Won diplomas at the International Competitions in Salerno, Italy, in 1991, and Vibo-Valentia, Italy, 1992. Won special prize at the Emmanuel Durlet International competition, Belgium, 1993. Also won a Drs. Willcoxon and Danbridge Prize at the Missouri Southern International Piano competition, Joplin, USA, 1994. In 2003, received Russian Federation Ministry of Culture Award For special achievements in culture. Performs as soloist, giving rectals and playing piano concertos in best concert halls of Moscow, including Great Hall of Moscow Conservatoire, performing with some of the most famous Russian orchestras. He also tours in many other cities of the former USSR and abroad – in Belgium, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, Japan, USA, Poland, Greece, Chile, China, countries of Western Africa. A British magazine Pianoforte referred to his performances as «bold, open, powerful, and technically accomplished old-school virtuosity… if this is the standard of Moscow’s thirty-year-old, let us hope we hear more of them». The Belgian newspaper La Semaine d’Anvers wrote of him as of a «brilliant pianist» and mentioned his «large and bright sonority» and dynamism. An Italian critic Piero Rattalino said that he was «not beating the piano in a blacksmith manner like a typical competition style Russian pianist would do, but played really very well». Yuri Didenko made numerous recordings on the Russian State Radio. He also recorded three compact disks and issued several MCs .

His repertoire includes works of different styles from Bach to Messiaen. He performs many virtuoso compositions (such as Liszt’s Six Grandes Etudes de Paganini, Brahms’s Variations on the theme by Paganini and other) as well as works by Russian composers. Mr. Didenko gives masterclasses in many Russian cities and abroad, he served as a jury member and president of the jury at several international piano competitions (Russia, Poland, USA, Greece, Kazakhstan). In 1996 -2002, he was an active member and secretary of the Rachmaninov Society of Russia. Since 2002, he is a member of Scriabin Foundation of Russia, member of the Presidium of the Foundation. Since 2005, he is Artistic Director of the Rachmani­nov Society of USA.

Alexander Zolotarevzolotarev

Alexander Zolotarev is always a welcomed guest in concert halls and festivals in Germany and abroad, both as solo and ensemble player. A few notable selections from his long list of performances are: the Music Festival of Schleswig-Holstein, the Celebration of Richard Strauss Tage, the Musical Festivals in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the Music Festival in Westphalen, the Piano Festival in Ruhr, as well as many others.
In his numerous solo performances he introduced the works of Richard Strauss and Joachim Raff, as well as performed the piano interpretations of several works by Johann Sebastian Bach.

An Associate Professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, he shares his experience and his musical abilities with his students. He is frequently invited as a guest professor to the USA, Poland, Italy, and France. He participated as a jury member in many musical competitions.

Alexander Zolotarev pays special attention to the promotion of young artists. He is in charge of the artistic supervision of concerts under the title, Bechstein Young Professionals in Cologne, Germany.

Born in St, Petersburg, Russia, Alexander started to study piano at the age of five. His formal musical education began in St. Petersburg at the elite School for Specially Gifted Children that was part of St. Petersburg Conservatory for Music.

In 1985 he became the prize winner of the national Russian Piano Competition. His first national and international concert tours followed.

In 1988 he continued his piano study at the renowned St. Petersburg Conservatory. He completed his education in Germany in 1990 at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Germany. Studying under the guidance of such famous pianists as Paul Badura-Skoda, Alexander Lonquich, and Pavel Gililov, he developed his personal style of music interpretation.

Alexander Zolotarev proved his talent and ability to perform in such venues as a German Presidential Concert, as well as in Italy, as a winner of the International Piano Competition, Cittá di Senegallia. He is also a recipient of the first prize at the International Piano Competition, Cittá di Finale Ligure.

He had successful concert tours in the USA, Japan, and many European countries. To his achievements belong numerous radio and television performances on SWR, NDR, WDR, BBC, on the Russian State Television Station, as well as Radio Suisse Romande, and RAI. Many CD recordings prove his artistic abilities.


Nikita Fitenko


Internationally acclaimed pianist Nikita Fitenko has performed recitals and with orchestras in the former Soviet Union, Europe, Asia, and South and North America. He has appeared as a soloist with such orchestras as St. Petersburg Capella Symphony, Russian Chamber Philharmonic, Russian Philharmonic Orchestra of Moscow, St. Petersburg State Conservatory Orchestra, State Hermitage Orchestra, Slovak National Philharmonic, Corvallis Symphony Orchestra, Lewisville Symphony, Rapides Symphony, Northeast Texas Symphony, and Northwestern Symphony Orchestra. His future engagements this year besides the concerts in the US will bring him to Italy, England, Spain, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia.

While performing a wide and diverse repertoire, Nikita Fitenko is an acknowledged master of Russian piano music. His CDs for Altarus Records of complete piano works by leading contemporary Russian composers Georgy Sviridov and Sergei Slonimsky have garnered rave reviews from the international music press. Fanfare Music Review wrote, “Fitenko plays magnificently!” Slonimsky himself described Fitenko’s interpretation of his piano music as “outstanding.” He also added, “It is very vivid, imaginative, virtuosic, fascinating, and pianistically brilliant.” Mr. Fitenko’s recording of Scriabin’s Piano Concerto with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra of Moscow was released internationally on Classical Records label. His latest recording of works by Bach, Beethoven, Mussorgsky, and Rachmaninov for Classical Records will be released this fall.

In addition to solo recitals, Nikita Fitenko performs extensively in piano duo with Katerina Zaitseva. Hailed by critics for their “superlative sound, superlative interpretation, and superlative pianism…”, the duo has performed worldwide with most recent appearances at the Moscow State Conservatory Hall (Russia), Madeira Music Festival (Portugal), Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage (Washington, D.C.), Yamaha Hall (NYC), Piano Duo Series (Tokyo, Japan), Nancyphonies Music Festival (France), University of Florida Young Pianists Festival, and Berkeley University (California, USA). Their critically acclaimed CD featuring works for piano four hands by Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms has been released internationally by the Classical Records label and is available through Amazon.

Native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Nikita Fitenko graduated from the St. Petersburg State Conservatory with a citation for excellence given to only five other graduates in the last fifty years. After receiving the Anton Rubinstein Memorial Award he came to study to the US pursuing his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Texas. His principal teachers included Roman Lebedev, Igor Lebedev, and Joseph Banowetz.

Dr. Fitenko has been invited to serve on many international piano competition juries, including 2011 Chopin International Piano Competition (Hartford, CT), 2010 Scriabin International Piano Competition (Grosetto, Italy), 2009 American Pianists Association’s Classical Fellowship Awards (Indianapolis, IN), 2008 Rachmaninov International Piano Competition (Moscow, Russia), 2008 Nordic International Piano Competition (Malmo, Sweden), and 2003 World International Piano Competition (Cincinnati, OH) among others. He has presented master classes at the Verdi Conservatory of Music (Turin, Italy), Hochschule fur Musik (Saarbruken, Germany), Estonian Academy of Music (Tallinn, Estonia), Korean National, Yeonsei, Hanyang, Sejong and ChungAng Universities (South Korea), Sichuan Conservatory, Jinan University, Xinghai Conservatory, and University of Hangzhou (China), as well as at the 2010 Convention of the Maryland State Music Teachers Association, 2009 Chinese-American International Piano Institute (Chengdu, China), and 2009 University of Florida Young Pianists Festival (Gainesville, FL). Among his students are winners of national and international competitions including National MTNA Competition.

Currently, Dr. Fitenko holds a position of Associate Professor of Piano at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and co-directs the Washington International Piano Festival (the fourth festival will take place on CUA’s campus in Washington, DC, July 29-August 4, 2012). Prior to that he was Associate Professor and Coordinator of Keyboard Area at Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Mr. Fitenko is the founder and artistic director of the Louisiana International Piano Competition as well as one of the founders of the Florida International Piano Competition (formerly Orlando International Piano Competition). Until 2008 he was also the artistic director of the Louisiana Piano Series International.

Grigory Gruzman


Grigory Gruzman was born in St. Petersburg in 1956. At the age of five he was taught his first piano lessons and due to his outstanding talent he was soon admitted into the special music school for gifted children in St. Petersburg. While attending school he appeared more than 300 times on stage in different Russian cities.

Grigory Gruzman studied with Prof. Gregory Haimowsky at the Academy of Music in Jerusalem and then with Prof. Vitalij Margulis at the College of Music in Freiburg (Germany), where he obtained the artistic exam as well as the concert exam. Gruzman is the prizewinner of the international piano competitions in Monza and Vercelli (Italy).As a soloist, chamber musician (among many others, member of the Shostakovich-Trio) and teacher of international master courses he has performed on the stages of almost all European countries, in the Far East, in Latin America an in the USA. Everywhere his concerts are received with enthusiasm by the audience and the press as well as among experts. “All my life I have waited for his interpretation of the Rigoletto Paraphrases”, said Herbert von Karajan once and invited Gruzman to Salzburg.

About 100 of his performances have been broadcast by TV and radio stations all over the world. His arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” for piano-trio received special attention.In 1998, Grigory Gruzman was named Professor for piano at the Musikhochschule in Hamburg.Together with Irina Gruenwald (violin) und Ekaterina Kitáeva (piano), he is member of the ensemble “Trialogue Musical”.

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