Jill Lawson – Jury Chairwoman 

The very talented pianist Jill Lawson was born in Mexico in 1974. She grew up in Belgium and has both the American and Portuguese nationality. She learned how to read music before she learned the alphabet. Today she speaks five languages fluently, but still prefers to communicate through music rather than through words. Her music provides her with a much richer vocabulary and it lies closer to her heart. Her life experiences in the last few years have helped to further enrich her range of interpretation abilities. She feels that her way of playing has become more natural, and because of this when performing she feels almost at one with the public. 

During her career Jill won several awards and distinctions. Second prize at the International Vianna da Motta Competition sent her career off to a flying start. She travelled all over the world performing at both large and small venues. Besides solo performances with international top orchestras she is also very fond of chamber music.

Together with her brother she forms the duo Lawson & Lawson and works with several singers on a regular basis. At the Escola Superior de Artes Aplicadas in Castelo Branco she teaches piano and the course repertoire for singers.

Jill’s piano education began when she was eight years old. She has studied, among other places, in Antwerp, and in Amsterdam with Jan Wijn and she completed her Masters in music at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore under Leon Fleisher and Ellen Mack. She has also attended several master classes with various master pianists including Dimitri Bashkirov and Maria João Pires.

She has recorded the chamber music of Portuguese composer António Fragoso for Brilliant Classics and the complete sonatas for violin and piano of Hindemith will be released in December 2013 by Brilliant Classics.

Jill is presently teaching piano and the class repertoire for singers at the Escola Superior de Artes Aplicadas in Castelo Branco (www.esart.ipcb.pt).

Tiago Nunes – OPC Director

Tiago Nunes, from Coimbra, soon showed passion and aptitude for the world of music, having started studying piano at an early age, at the Conservatory of Music in Seia, where he completed the Basic Course. Later, he attended the Complementary Piano Course at the Conservatório de Música de Coimbra, in the class of professor Rita Dourado, having finished it with a high and distinct classification. Always seeking growth and improvement, he has participated in several masterclasses by several pianists, including: Aquilles Delle Vigne (Argentina / Belgium), Fausto Neves (Portugal), Álvaro Teixeira Lopes (Portugal), Paulo Oliveira (Portugal), Luísa Tender (Portugal), Nancy Lee Harper (USA / Portugal), Paul Badura-Skoda (Austria), Rudolfo Rubino (Italy), Shao Ling (China), Yi Wu (China / USA), among others. He completed his degree in piano performance under the guidance of the pianist Fausto Neves. His career contemplates several prizes, distinctions and solo recitals throughout Europe. Since the beginning of 2015, he has been the artistic director of the Coimbra Concert Cycle, that takes place in March in the city of Coimbra, having, this year, its fifth edition. Two years later, became founder and president of the CulturXis Artistic Association. He has been the director of the Oeiras Piano Competition since its foundation. In his activity as a professor, he has more than 20 students awarded in national and international competitions. Since 2017, he has been teaching and coordinating the piano department at the Montijo Conservatory of Arts. In 2020, with the pianist António Luís Silva, created a new project: the H4NDS Duo and recorded their first album.

André Cunha Leal

From an early age, he discovered the fascination of music through the great opera choirs, Carmen by Grace Bumbry and American musicals. The first notions of music arrive through the commented concerts of conductor Leonard Bernstein. He grew up listening to the records of José Carreras, the symphonic music of Wagner, Beethoven and Mahler, the mornas of Bana, the Fados of Amália, jazz, bossa nova and traditional Portuguese music. He went to study piano and at the age of 12 he was already a regular attendee of Gulbenkian concerts. In 1994 he attended the first Portuguese operas: O Doido e a Morte by Alexandre Delgado and As Damas Trocadas by Marcos de Portugal. A new passion grows here – Portuguese music and the dream of collaborating in the consecration of Portuguese composers and works. In 1995 he enters the D. Pedro V high school where he attends the choir and discovers the pleasure of music together. With this choir he experiences for the first time the emotions of stepping on stage (at Teatro da Trindade) with a great orchestra. From there he became an avid consumer of concerts: Gulbenkian; Metropolitana, São Carlos operas and dreamed of plans for big festivals with all Portuguese musicians. Entering the University, in Chemistry, was another step towards music through the University of Lisbon Choir where he worked with conductors José Robert and Pedro Teixeira. Here he also developed a taste for concert production with a series of shows presented at the Aula Magna. In 1999 he starts working in the classical music section of a CD shop. He worked in the Office of Cultural Activities of the Rectory of the University of Lisbon, went to learn singing and performed as a chorister in chamber groups, in great choral-symphonic works and in operas. Meanwhile, the radio Antena 2 appears, with the program Que música é esta. Since then he has directed and presented several programs and is currently responsible for the Open Concert, Mezza-voce and live broadcasts from the New York Metropolitan.

Diana Botelho Vieira

Diana Botelho Vieira was born on the island of São Miguel, Azores, in 1984. She has performed in piano and chamber music recitals in Portugal, Spain, France, the United States of America, and South America. Laureate in the Young Musicians Award-RDP Antena 2 in the Piano category, she is also the holder of the Búzio Revelação (Expresso das 9) and the Culture Award (Correio dos Açores).
He performed as a soloist with the Ponta Delgada Regional Conservatory Chamber Orchestra, Lisbon Metropolitan Academic Orchestra, Cascais and Oeiras Chamber Orchestra, Centro Clássica do Centro, and Sinfonietta de Ponta Delgada, under the direction of conductors Yuri Pankiv, Jean-Marc Burfin, Nikolay Lalov, José Eduardo Gomes, and Amâncio Cabral.
She played at festivals such as the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (Boston), PianoFest (Chicago), Embassy Series – Uniting People Through Musical Diplomacy (Washington/DC), Meadowmount School of Music (New York), Festival Ibérico de Badajoz, Dias da Music at CCB, Azores Art Season, Porto PianoFest (online edition), Viseu International Spring Music Festival, and Póvoa de Varzim International Music Festival.
She premiered works for solo piano, piano and orchestra, and chamber music by composers such as Brett Madsen, Parisa Sabet, Sérgio Azevedo and Inés Badalo. She starred in the documentary “Bravo” (RTP) and participated in the RTP documentary series “Portugueses pelo mundo: Chicago”. She released two CDs: “A Toque de Caixa” and “Viagens Imaginárias”, edited by mpmp and both with music by Sérgio Azevedo; the first for solo piano for children, and the second for 4 hands piano with pianist Saul Picado. She recently recorded another CD that will be released in 2022.
She studied piano with Irina Semënova at the Ponta Delgada Regional Conservatory, with Alexei Erëmine at the Academia Nacional Superior de Orquestra-Metropolitana (Bachelor’s Degree) and with Ludmila Lazar at the Chicago College of Performing Arts-Roosevelt University (Master’s in Piano Performance). She also has a Masters in Music Teaching, under the supervision of Miguel Henriques and Jorge Moyano, at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa. In parallel with her concert activity, she teaches piano at the Lisbon Music Academy.

Marta Zabaleta

At the age of 16, Marta completed her musical studies in San Sebastian where she was awarded First Prize in piano. She then went on to continue her studies at some of the most prestigious European academies: the National Superior Conservatory of Music in Paris under Dominique Merlet, the Reina Sofía College of Music in Madrid with Dmitri Bashkirov, and the Marshall Academy in Barcelona with Alicia de Larrocha. She received many prizes at international competitions such as the Santander ‘Paloma O’Shea’, Darmstadt, Premio Jaén and the Pilar Bayona International Piano Competition in Zaragoza. 

In her long career as a concert pianist, Marta has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsches Symphony Orchestra (Berlin), the Basque National Orchestra, and the Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra (RTVE), as well as the symphony orchestras of Bilbao, Extremadura, Castile and León, Murcia, Community of Madrid, Galicia, Málaga, Granada, Valencia and Reina Sofía, amongst others. She has performed under the baton of outstanding conductors including Sir Colin Davis, Daniele Gatti, Harry Christophers, S. Comissiona, C. Mandeal, M. Venzago, G. Varga, G. Neuhold, J.C Spinossi, G. Pehlivanian, J. Mena, D. Wilson, L. Pfaff, J.M. Encinar, J. Amigo, M. Bragado, G. I. Ramos, and C. Wilkins. Marta has been invited to significant international festivals and concert halls, debuting in the Carnegie Hall with cellist Asier Polo. 

Marta has made a number of recordings, which include the works of Joaquín Rodrigo, recorded by EMI; F. Escudero, with the label CLAVES; chamber works with Asier Polo under the label BBK; and M. Pompey’s Concerto for Two Pianos with the Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra (RTVE). She has also recorded an album “Pecados de juventud” (“Sins of youth”) with compositions by Alicia de Larrocha, and has recently released two new albums: “Goyescas and El Pelele” by Granados, edited by La má de Guido, and works for cello and piano by Rachmaninov and Franck with IBS Classical.

In addition to her performing career, Marta has a great deal of experience and recognition in piano pedagogy. She has given masterclasses at Trinity Laban College of London and at universities in Bogota and Medellin, among others. Marta is currently professor of piano at Musikene (the Higher Academy of Music of the Basque Country), and, at the wish of her predecessor Alicia de Larrocha, she is the current director of the Marshall Academy in Barcelona. In this prestigious Academy, Marta gives regular piano masterclasses in interpretation and virtuosity, and in particular the Spanish piano repertoire. 

She recently won the Albéniz Medal granted by the Fundación Pública Isaac Albéniz.

Robert Andres

The Croatian/Portuguese pianist Robert Andres graduated from the Zagreb Music Academy and subsequently received a scholarship from the Soviet government to study at the St.  Petersburg Conservatory with D. A. Svetozarov, a pupil of the great Russian pianist Sofronitski. He continued his studies in Vienna and in the United States where, as a Fulbright scholarship recipient, he studied at the University of Kansas with renowned Portuguese/American pianist Sequeira Costa and earned there a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano, as well as a master’s degree in musicology. He has also received valuable advice from renowned pianists, such as Pierre Sancan, Rudolf Kehrer, Claude Frank, Leonid Brumberg and Peter Katin.

Andres has performed in recitals, with orchestras, and in chamber music concerts in many European countries as well as in Venezuela and the United States. He has collaborated with artists such as Chiara Isotton, Artur Pizarro, Lorenzo Di Bella, Grigori Zhislin, Zakhar Bron, Anatoli Melnikov and Dejan Ivanovic. The piano duo with his wife, the Irish pianist Honor O’Hea, has, since 1995, met with enthusiastic response from critics and audiences alike.

After teaching at the Kalamazoo College in Michigan, U. S. A., since 1993 he has taught at the Madeira Conservatory – School of Arts, where he is at present a tenured professor of piano and coordinator of the keyboard department.

He has been on juries of more than twenty international piano competitions and regularly gives masterclasses. Since 1997 he has been Managing and Artistic Director of the Association of the Friends of the Conservatory and is also the Artistic Director of Madeira PianoFest. Having developed an intense activity as a writer and lecturer on musical topics, Andres has contributed to various prestigious music journals, encyclopaedias and magazines in several countries. In 2001 the Scarecrow Press (U.S.A.) published his book on the beginnings of the scientific approach to piano technique. He is an integrated researcher of INET-md (Institute of Ethnomusicology – Studies of Music and Dance) of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the Universidade Nova in Lisbon. In 2020 he revised and edited the first volume of music for piano of the Anthology of Music in Madeira, and last year he recorded a CD of piano music written in Madeira in the 19th century.

Vasco Dantas Rocha

Vasco Dantas, Portuguese pianist born in Porto in 1992, obtained his Bachelor in Music with ‘1st Class Distinction’ at the London Royal College of Music, studying piano with Dmitri Alexeev and Niel Immelman, and conducting with Peter Stark and Natalia Luis-Bassa. He concluded a Master in Performance with highest mark under the guidance of Heribert Koch, at the University of Münster, where he is accepted to the Doctoral study “Konzertexamen”.

Vasco has won over 50 prizes in international competitions in Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom. Recent prizes include: GianClaudio International Prize (Rome), “Grand Prix” at Valletta International Piano Competition (Malta), “Prix Spécial” at Concours International de Piano SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem (Morroco), 1st prize at Porto International Competition Santa Cecília, 1st Prize at Estoril Lisbon Music Competition, 3rd Prize at Münster Steinway & Sons Competition, “Golden Merit Medal” from Matosinhos city (Portugal) and the Prize “Fundação Eng. António de Almeida”

In 2019, Vasco made his Carnegie Hall piano recital debut, in New York. In 2017, Vasco made his Russian debut performing with Kremling Chamber Orchestra at Grand Hall of Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no.4. In 2016, Vasco made his German orchestra debut performing with both Jülich Sinfonieorchester and Junges Sinfonieorchester Aachen, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no.2. In 2015 Vasco made his Asia debut, playing with Hong Kong Symphonia at Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall the Franz Liszt Piano Concerto no.1; In 2014 Vasco made his American debut playing with “Orquestra Sinfónica Espírito Santo” in Vitória – Brazil, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto no.2; In 2013 Vasco made his Portuguese orchestra debut with Porto Symphony Orchestra (Casa da Música), performing J.S. Bach’s Concerto for 4 Keyboards and Orchestra; In 2011 Vasco made his piano recital debut at Sala Suggia of Porto Casa da Música, opening the EDP Piano Cycle 2011.

He has also performed solo with orchestras including Clássica da Madeira, Clássica do Centro, Clássica do Sul, Festival de Música Júnior, Filarmónica Portuguesa, Filarmónica das Beiras, Gulbenkian, Jovem Orquestra Portuguesa, Orquestra do Norte, Orquestra Promenade, Sinfónica de Cascais, Sinfónica Portuguesa, and has worked with well-known conductors, such as, Choi Sown Le, Daniel Cohen, Dinis Sousa, Günter Neuhold, Jan Wierzba, Joshua dos Santos, Martin André, Misha Rachlevsky, Nicholas Kok, Nikolay Lalov, Nuno Coelho, Osvaldo Ferreira, Pedro Carneiro, Pedro Neves, Peter Sauerwein, Rui Pinheiro, Vassily Sinaisky e Victor Hugo Toro.

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