18-year-old takes First Prize in 10th National Chopin Competition

By Lawrence Budmen

Avery Gagliano, a Curtis Institute student, took First Prize in the 10th National Chopin Competition Sunday in Miami.

Avery Gagliano, an 18-year-old student at the Curtis Institute was named First Prize winner of the 10th National Chopin Competition in Miami on Sunday evening. The award carries a cash prize of $100,000 and entry into the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw this coming October as well as an extensive concert tour in the United States and Canada.

Evren Ozel, who gave a superb performance of the E minor Concerto on Saturday night, was awarded the Second Prize of $30,000 and entry into the Warsaw competition. 

Parker Van Ostrand, a 16-year-old high school student from Sacramento, California, Van Ostrand took the Third Prize of $20,000.

Two Fourth Prizes of $5,000 each were given to Chelsea Guo (the only finalist to choose Chopin’s Concerto No. 2 in F minor) and Umi Garrett. Talon Smith, an 18-year old from Fresno, California, won the Sixth Prize of $5,000. No Fifth Prize was awarded.

The six semifinalists who did not advance to the finals (Timothy Jones, Fantee Jones, Min Jo Yi, Dominic Muzzi, Alexander Agate and Misha Galant) were given prizes of $1,000 each. Special $2,000 prizes for performances during the competition went to Ozel for Best Mazurka and Best Polonaise, Van Ostrand for Best Sonata and Gagliano for Best Concerto.


Avery Gagliano from Washington D.C. led off Sunday afternoon’s concluding final round with a performance of Chopin’s Concerto No. 1 in E minor (the selection of choice for five of the six finalists). From her first entry, this was large-scale Chopin with sweeping octaves and a stellar technique. She made every bar compelling, often putting a personal stamp on the music. The Romanze emerged almost like a Chopin etude and Gagliano’s fleet tempo for the final Rondo never felt idiosyncratic. Clearly Gagliano, who counts Gary Graffman and Jonathan Biss among her teachers, has the strength and musicianship to compete in Warsaw.

Parker Van Ostrand was the competition’s sleeper. He was well prepared for the weeklong marathon and his performance of the E minor Concerto on Sunday was remarkable for a pianist of any age. Technically he was strong and there was fire beneath his fingers in the first movement. The Larghetto was dreamy and finely tinted. Van Ostrand’s tempo in the finale was very fast but he sustained it with daunting accuracy.

Talon Smith gave a less consistent reading of the First Concerto. The second movement was given fine romantic spirit, and Smith’s tone was lovely. His hesitations and affected mannerisms in the Rondo, however, were unconvincing and Smith tended to play at top volume too much of the time. 

The Frost Symphony Orchestra’s playing under conductor Marzena Diakun was smooth and assured despite having to play the ubiquitous E-minor concerto five times.

The competition’s jury was chaired by University of Miami Professor and Warsaw competition winner Kevin Kenner. Other jury members were Ning An, Edward Auer, Dean Kramer, Jon Nakamatsu, Ewa Poblocka, Antonio Pompa-Baldi, Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, and Margarita Shevchenko.

Video of the entire Chopin National Competition is archived and can be streamed at chopin.org.

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Mon Mar 2, 2020
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