List of the members of the juries
March 29, 30 and 31, 2019
Deadline: March 3, 2019
Robert Benz (Germany)
Born in former Yugoslavia in 1954, German pianist Robert Benz received his first piano lessons from his father at the age of four.
After being taught by Naoyuki Taneda at the University of Music Karlsruhe, where he also graduated in conducting, Robert Benz went to The Juilliard School New York as a student of Rosina Lhevinne and Martin Canin.
Robert Benz became famous as the winner of the First prize of both, the International Busoni Competition in Bolzano 1974 and the International Liszt-Bartòk Competition in Budapest 1976.
He started an extensive career as a recitalist and soloist with orchestras throughout the world. His recordings include the complete 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven for the label Thorofon.
In 1990 Robert Benz became professor of piano at the University of Music Mannheim.
He decided to withdraw as a soloist and to concentrate on chamber music.
Since 1996 he is the pianist of Trio Bamberg and has performed and recorded most of the piano trio repertoire.
In 2005 he became artistic director of the Ettlingen International Competition for Young Pianists.
Today Robert Benz enjoys an international reputation as a teacher and is regularly serving as a jury member at international competitions.
Franziska Lee Jee-Eun (South Korea)
The pianist Franziska Lee, celebrated as a "lyrical jewel" by the press, is one of today’s leading young musicians. Born in Seoul, South Korea, she started her Bachelor studies with Prof. HeeSung Joo at the Seoul National University’s College of Music and graduated summa cum laude in 2011. In 2011 she arrived in Germany as a scholarship holder of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to take a master’s degree and concert soloist degree with Prof. Sontraud Speidel at the University of Music Karlsruhe. She found further inspiration with Prof. Peter Lang from the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
Franziska Lee won first prizes at numerous international competitions such as the 2010 “International Piano Competition of Korea”, the Viennese competition “Prof. Dichler-Wettbewerb” and “Concorso Internazionale di Esecuzione Musicale Giovani Musicisti” in Treviso, Italy. She received further prizes and special awards in 2012 at the “Concorso internazionale di musica Euterpe”, the “Concorso internazionale di Esecuzione Pianistica Premio Euterpe” and the “International Music Competition” in Padova. In 2013 Lee won first prizes at the “Dr. Hermann Büttner” piano competition of the University of Music Karlsruhe and in 2016 at the “Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition” in London.
Franziska Lee performs in renowned concert halls across Germany and all over Europe. Several engagements led the young artist to Minneapolis (USA) where she gave guest performances at the “International e-Piano MusikFest”. In 2015 she gave solo performances as part of the “Rising Stars” program of the Universities of Music Karlsruhe, Freiburg and Stuttgart together with the Polish symphonic orchestra of Toru?, conducted by Maciej Niesiolowksi. These concerts were followed by debuts with the Karlsruhe Chamber Orchestra, the Dortmunder Philharmoniker, the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz and the Philharmonie Baden-Baden, as well as engagements in radio and film productions. In 2018 her Debut-CD “L’HEURE EXQUISE” was released by Capriccio/Naxos. BBC London Radio, BR-Klassik, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Kulturradio rbb and SWR2 presented and broadcasted this recording.
Besides her concert activities Franziska Lee is also involved in supporting up-and-coming musicians. Since 2017 she teaches at the University of Music Karlsruhe and she is a regular juror at “Jugend musiziert”- Germany and at international competitions.
Isabella Lo Porto (Italy)
She studied in the Conservatory "FE Dall'Abaco" in Verona, where she graduated brilliantly with Laura Palmieri. In 1985 she received the diploma of Music Operator from the Music School of Fiesole. She improved in the soloist repertoire under the lead of important concert artists such as Piero Guarino, Bruno Mezzena in Italy and, with Fausto Zadra at the “Ecole Internationale de Musique de Lausanne”. She is also particularly interested in the piano in the chamber music and in the piano duet for whom she attended courses of Borciani Paolo and Dario De Rosa, with gratifying success. she won many national and international competitions both as a soloist and in chamber ensembles, and she carries out an intense concert activity in Italy and abroad. A tournèe in Poland led her to perform at the Piano Festival Chopin of Slupsk and at the Academy of Koszalin, where her performances have been recorded for radio and television in Poland. She has also recorded for the Soviet and Slovenia state television. Isabella Lo Porto began the teaching activity very young. In fact, at the age of 17 she was a teacher and later director of the preparatory courses Yamaha in Verona. Since 1984 she has been teaching piano in the main State Conservatories of Music, she currently teaches at the Conservatory "F.A. Bonporti" of Trento, detached section of Riva del Garda. She also taught in piano master classes in Conegliano, Udine, Trieste, Nervi (Ge), and she was teacher at the Ecole Normale de Musique "Alfred Cortot" in Paris. She is frequently asked to be part of juries in National and International piano competitions. In the teaching activity she has been rewarded many times as a teacher with the most number of students first classified. The awards achieved are more than 600. She is also takes care to the organization of cultural activities to promote young artists. Indeed, she was in the directorate of the GMI section (Musical youth of Italy) in Verona for more than 10 years.She collaborated with the Como Autumn Music in 1985.She was Artistic Director of the Academy Music of Castiglione delle Stiviere (MN), of the Musical Association "W.A.Mozart" Valeggio sul Mincio (Vr) and of the "Academy Universe Art" of Verona. She was Editorial and Artistic director of the Project "Antologia Sonora", an initiative to promote young talent through the creation and distribution of a CD-Rom published by Piana Editor Graphic Arts. She is artistic manager for Italy and Intenational ufficial member of the "Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation” of Salt Lake City - Utah (USA). Since 2000 she is Artistic Director of the Cultural Association “Project Mikrokosmos" of Verona and since 2011 she is authorizated teacher at the ABRSM (Royal Academy of London).
Irene Russo (Italy)
Praised by the legendary Martha Argerich as "one of the best young musicians I ever heard in my life", Italian pianist Irene Russo (1974) appeared on the big international stages like one of the most interesting talents of her generation. In July 2008 she was the recipient of the First Prize at the Dorothy MacKenzie International Piano Award in New York.
Current season began with opening of fall season 2013 in the Teatro de la Sena in Feltre, Italy, followed by debut in Groningen’s Oosterpoort (Holland) and Masterclasses at Conservatoria of Udine (Italy) and Alicante (Spain). In february 2014 a new CD project was released by Brilliant Classics (cat.nr.9453).
In march 2014 she performed the Bruckner 7th Symphony in the chamber orchestra arrangement, collaborating with the violinist Thomas Christian and for the third time in a row she is President of the Jury at the International Piano Competition “Città di Treviso”, Italy. Ms. Russo next engagements include recitals in Belgium, Korea, Spain and Hungary.
Season 12/13 started with recitals in Italy, including the Benetton Foundation in Treviso, followed by Masterclass at the Metropolia University of Helsinki and guest soloist appearances with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Her official sold-out debut in the Main Hall of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in December 2012 was followed by a concert in deSingel of Antwerp together with German clarinettist and composer Jörg Widmann and a Masterclass in Spain at the Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Castellon de la Plana.
In 2012 her recording "Canto Ostinato" by late dutch composer S. ten Holt (Brilliant Classics) was awarded "Golden Record" in The Netherlands having sold more than 20.000 copies.
During last season 11/12 she has performed in various concert venues like: Amsterdam Muziekgebouw and Beurs van Berlage, Padua Villa Marcello, Brussels Theatre Flagey, Bologna Sala Borsa, including a performance at Flemish Opera House of Antwerp at the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde of Belgium. Highlights of season 10/11 have included engagements with l’Orchestre National of the Pays de la Loire and John Axelrod (Prokofiev n.3), a production in cooperation with the Royal Ballet of Flanders and English choreographer David Dawson, followed by concerts in Korea, Austria, Italy and Germany.
Previous season 09/10 have included performances in Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and debut in South Africa; during season 08/09 she has performed at Bechstein International Concerts Series, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, deSingel Antwerp, Berlin, as well as recordings for the Dutch Radio and Television. In seasons 05/06 and 07/08 she was guest soloist with the Klassische Philharmonie conducted by H. Beissel, performing both Brahms 1st and 2nd piano concertos in the most important German concert halls such as: Beethovenhalle Bonn, Musikhalle Hamburg, dieGlocke Bremen, Meistersingerhalle Nürnberg, Liederhalle Stuttgart, Herkulessaal Munich, and culminated in a sold-out Berlin Konzerthaus, where she received great acclaim from public and press, followed by debut in Stuttgart Liederhalle and concerts in Spain.
In 2000 Irene Russo won the Clara Schumann International Piano Competition in Düsseldorf, where she was particularly praised by the Jury: Joachim Kaiser ("She reminds me of a young Kempff"), Nelson Freire, Maria Tipo and Martha Argerich ("Mademoiselle Russo à toute mon admiration") among others.
Ms. Russo is also Prize Winner of the 2002 ARD International Piano Competition in Munich, where she received the Special Prize for the Best Interpretation of Contemporary Music. Living composers, among which Jörg Widmann, have written works especially for her. In 2003, Irene Russo was also awarded with the Mention of Honour at the Martha Argerich International Piano Competition.
In recent seasons Ms. Russo has been invited to perform in prestigious Festivals, including: Schloss-Elmau, La Roque d’Antheron International Piano Festival, Heidelberg Spring Music Festival, Robert Schumann Festival, Beethoven Klavier Festival, Festival van Vlaanderen, Festival International de Marseille, Musica Viva Festival, Eclat Neue Musik, Bergen International Contemporary Music Festival, Klavier Festival Freiburg, Festival Ten Holt and LekArt Festival.
Among her teachers: Lazar Berman at the International Piano Academy "Incontri col Maestro" in Imola and Alicia de Larrocha ("El recuerdo que nos deja es fabuloso!") in Barcelona.
Irene Russo has appeared as guest soloist with leading orchestras, among which: Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica del Teatro San Carlo, Kiev Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra da Camera di Mantova, Klassische Philharmonie, Houston OrchestraX, Orchestra da Camera della Toscana, Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt, Craiova Symphony Orchestra, collaborating with conductors such as Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli, Susanna Mälkki, David Stern, Fabio Mastrangelo, Alexander Liebreich, Marc Andreae, Misha Damev, Ovidiu Balan and Michel Tilkin.
Her international career started in 1993 in Sydney. Since then Ms. Russo has played extensively through all Europe, United States, Canada, Latin America and Middle-East; she has performed in important concert venues including: Steinway Hall New York, Auditorium Verdi Milan, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, Palais des Beaux-Arts Bruxelles, Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam, Teatro Comunale Bologna, Zilkha Hall Houston, Arthur Rubinstein Society Tel Aviv, Palau de la Musica Valencia, Teatro Municipal Lisbon, Jack Singer Hall Calgary, Queen Elizabeth Hall and deSingel Antwerp, Teatro San Carlo Naples, Cleveland, Madrid, Paris, Zurich, Barcelona.
Her discography includes CD's for Brilliant Classics, Edipan and Oehms Classics, DVD for WERGO as well as television recordings on: Italian RAI, ZDF, Alpha BR and CBC Canada. Her studio/live recordings are regularly broadcasted on: SWR, NDR, ARD, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Radio 3 Belgium, D-Radio Berlin, North-American KUHF, France Musique, Radio 4 Holland.
Passionate chamber musician, Ms. Russo has collaborated with: Jörg Widmann, Alexander Lonquich, Valerie Guillorit, Gabriele Cassone, Frank Reinecke, David Adorjan, Cristina Mantese, Alissa Margulis, Carolin Widmann, Genevieve Strosser, Zoltan Kovacs and Nadja Helble among others.
Dedicated teacher, from 2008 to 2013 Irene Russo held a professorship at the Royal Music Conservatory of Antwerp. In October 2012 she was offered a professorship at the LUCA School of Arts in Leuven (Campus Lemmens) where she currently teaches. Ms. Russo is also on faculty at the Music Conservatoire of Castelfranco Veneto (Venice), where from 2010 to 2013 she was member of the Artistic Board. She's often invited to gives Master Classes and Lectures in Conservatoria and Universities in The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Finland, Spain and Belgium. She serves regularly as jury member at various international piano competitions.
Alan Weiss (USA)
Alan Weiss was born in New York City into a Jewish family of Polish/Argentinian birth. Hailed as “one of the outstanding pianists of his generation” by legendary Czech pianist Rudolf Firkušný, he is “a poet” in the words of Brussels' Le Soir, whose playing, as was noted by The Daily Telegraph of London, “penetrates to the very core of the music”. “[He projected] a sense of line resembling in many respects the orchestral wizardry of Furtwängler”, wrote Spectator Online. Mr. Weiss is indeed a throwback to an earlier age of free-thinking performing musicians.
His background is unusually varied, having begun his studies on the classical guitar, receiving advice and encouragement, from the age of ten, of Andrés Segovia. The genius of Maestro Segovia left its indelible mark on his musical character and artistic development. David Saperton, the illustrious teacher of Cherkassky, Katchen and Bolet; son-in-law of Godowsky and assistant at Curtis to the legendary Josef Hofmann, served at a crucial point in Alan’s pianistic development. Under the guidance of Firkusny’s deep musicianship he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Juilliard School.
In 1974 Mr. Weiss was invited by Rudolf Serkin to participate in his Marlboro Music Festival. The following year he was a winner of the Naumburg Piano Competition in Carnegie Hall. In 1978 he was awarded a silver-medal in the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Competition, effectively marking the beginning of his international career.
Chamber music concerts have included performances with such great musicians as Rudolf Firkušný, Martha Argerich, Mischa Maisky, Ivry Gitlis, Pina Carmirelli, Dora Schwarzberg, Elmar Oliveira, Rafael Oleg, Alissa Margulis, Michael Flaksman and Mirel Iancovici. His recordings of solo and chamber music have appeared on the Pavane, Vox, Phonic, D.G. and Sony labels, and a cd of solo piano music by Alkan for Fidelio was greeted as one of the great recordings of that composer. More recent recordings of solo music by Alkan and Brahms have appeared on the Brilliant label. And his latest project of extraordinary piano transcriptions has just been issued on a new cd by UANÁ along with a simultaneous publication of these scores.
Mr. Weiss is piano professor at The Lemmens Institute in Leuven, Belgium. During important teaching tenures both there and at Utrecht Conservatory his students have included Sergio Tiempo, Akane Sakai, Edna Stern, Eliane Reyes, Carl Vandoorne, Stefan Hofkes, Gerda Struhal, Lily Maisky, Jan Lust, Joris Lejeune, Akiko Sakuma, Sylvia Thereza, Maxim Bandurin, Rosalía Gomez Lasheras, Javier Rameix, Toru Oyama, Alexandros Sarakenidis, Ernst Munneke, Jeroen D'hoe (composer) and Tom Beghin (fortepianist/musicologist)---just to mention a few among many gifted musicians.
In recent years, Mr. Weiss has been invited by Ms. Argerich to participate in her festivals, giving performances and masterclasses that have generated real excitement along with critical praise.