Meet The Finalists
Young American pianist Katherine Benson is quickly emerging as an important artistic voice through her “stunning” (ArtsKnoxville) performances as a soloist and chamber musician and for her vision in arts leadership. Originally from Jonesborough, TN, Benson has performed across the USA and abroad, including in Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand. She has won top prizes in the Walled City, Teresa Carreño, Kerikeri, Seattle, and Thousand Islands International Piano Competitions, as well as the 2021 Vivace Music Foundation Award. She will also release her first solo album with Blue Griffin Recording in 2022. An avid chamber musician, Benson is the Artistic Director and pianist of The Paramount Chamber Players, one of the premiere chamber ensembles of the Appalachian region. Benson is currently pursuing her DMA at the University of Michigan with Arthur Greene, and she holds degrees from Northwestern University and the Eastman School of Music.
Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, Dr. Nathan Cheung is known for his versatility as a soloist, collaborator, composer, and improviser. He maintains a deep interest in playing music that lies outside of the classical canon and is always looking for meaningful ways in which different styles of music can inform each other.
Cheung claimed the 1st prize in the 2019 Los Angeles International Piano Competition and won top prizes in the Wideman International Piano Competition and Seattle International Piano Competition. Achievements in collaborative piano include fellowships in Music Academy of the West and Aspen Music Festival. He holds a DMA and two MM degrees from the Eastman School of Music and a BA from Stanford University. Throughout his studies, his primary teachers were Natalya Antonova, Jean Barr, Nelita True, and Thomas Schultz. Currently, Cheung is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano at Indiana University Bloomington.
Engaging audiences with his charismatic and moving performances, Aaron Kurz enjoys a burgeoning career. He has garnered recognition in competitions, winning top prizes in the New York, Los Angeles, Virginia Waring, and World Piano Teachers Association International Piano Competitions, among others. Likewise, Mr. Kurz’s performances have been lauded, with Belgium’s Le Soir stating, “We’ll remember…the musical journeys of a nuanced Aaron Kurz.”
Kurz believes artists have an obligation to use their craft to improve the world, and he has worked significantly in this capacity. Alongside concertizing, he has collaborated with the Van Cliburn Foundation and the Lift Music Foundation, both of which help raise up underserved populations through classical music.
Kurz is currently pursuing a Master of Musical Arts at the Yale School of Music, studying with Boris Berman. He enjoys playing and watching sports in his spare time.
A native of Russia, Artem Kuznetsov is an award-winning concert pianist hailed for his artistry, virtuosity, lyricism, and exciting energy.
He has been part of organizations and concert series that have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities including the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Direct Relief Covid-19 Response. In 2020 he was appointed an Emissary of the Muses of the city of San Antonio by Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
Kuznetsov is a winner of more than ten international competitions including the Valsesia Musica International Competition, the Canada International Artists Piano Competition, the Seattle International Piano Competition and the Dallas International Piano Competition among others.
His passion for music started at the age of 14, when he for the first time visited Sergei Rachmaninoff’s museum-estate and heard recordings of Rachmaninoff performing his own compositions.
Kuznetsov’s major teachers include Stanislav Ioudenitch and Dr. Jon Kimura Parker.