2018 Jurors

Irina Nuzova, piano

Critics have applauded classical pianist Irina Nuzova for her “rise above mere virtuosity” (The Washington Post), “intensity of feeling” (La Nazione, Italy) and “profound interpretation” (Il Resto de Carlino, Bologna). Nuzova has appeared in recital as a soloist and as a chamber musician in the United States, Europe, and South America. In Europe, she has performed as part of the Amici della Musica concert series in Florence; at the Teatro Massima in Catania, Italy; Hermitage State Museum in St. Petersburg; the Moscow Conservatory, and in the Netherlands. In the United States, she has played at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York; and as part of chamber music series including the Rhode Island Chamber Music Concert Series and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago. In recital with Wendy Warner, Nuzova has performed at the Music Institute of Chicago, the Phillips Collection, in Toronto, in Boston, and the Rockefeller tri-Institutional series in New York City.


Nuzova’s discography includes the critically acclaimed WarnerNuzova duo’s debut recording: Russian Music for Cello & Piano, released in 2010 on Cedille Records. The CD entered the Billboard charts as #8, and has been featured on more than 100 radio stations. Nominated for best chamber music recording by ICMS, Classical Candor commented about the CD: “The two women ...play with style, with grace, with refinement, and with deep emotional attachment, yet always placing the music above any showmanship on their part. Most important, however, they appear to reach into the heart of this heart-wrenching music and convey its inner spirit with not only clarity and precision but with ultimate passion. They are consummate artists.” Warner and Nuzova have played together for years, but officially formed the duo in 2008 with the intention of performing and recording the canonical sonatas for cello and piano from the past and present, as well as commissioning unique arrangements and new music. This first album covers romantic Russian works featuring among others the rarely performed Sonata in A Minor by Nikolai Miaskovsky.  Nuzova regards the Miaskovsky sonata a “rare gem,” adding that she likes to flip the Russian maxim which reads: “All is not gold that glitters,” to say “Something that does not glitter can still be gold” in regards to the composer and this sonata in particular.  Says Nuzova, “The sonata’s pervasive, nostalgic quality speaks to the Russian soul and mind, but it is subtle and subdued in its expression, and absolutely jewel-like in its clarity and simplicity.”


Nuzova appears as soloist in numerous venues. Besides her appearances with her duo at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. and at St. Paul’s Music in the Park Series, other highlights include the double recital at the Gardner Museum (complete Beethoven cycle of sonatas), and chamber music performances at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Ms. Nuzova has also appeared in live radio interviews and performances in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, among others, including a live broadcast on WFMT in Chicago; and an interview with Fred Child of Performance Today -- a program that was syndicated nationwide. Also the recipient of the Bruce Hungerford Award at the Young Concert Artist Auditions in New York, Nuzova has won top prizes in competitions such as the Vincenzo Bellini and Citta di Senigallia International Competitions in Italy and the Beethoven Piano Sonata International Competition in Memphis, Tennessee. As a chamber musician, she has won top prizes at the Vittorio Gui and the Premio Trio di Trieste International Chamber Music Competitions in Italy. Nuzova’s performances have been broadcast live on WFMT in Chicago, WGBH in Boston, and Italian TV. Ms. Nuzova is also a member of the Camerata Phillips – an ensemble in residence at the Phillips Collection Gallery in Washington DC.


Nuzova is a native of Moscow, Russia. She made her debut with the Omsk Philharmonic at the age of 14. She studied at the Gnessin Academy of Music under the guidance of Alexander Satz before moving to the United States. Nuzova continued her musical education at the Manhattan School of Music with Lev Natochenny, and at Juilliard where her teachers were Oxana Yablonskaya and Jerome Lowenthal.  To further herself as a musician she worked for many years in the cello studio of Harvey Shapiro at Juilliard and pursued individual studies with pianists Jean-Bernard Pommier, Eteri Andjaparidze, and Vladimir Feltsman. Nuzova earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford, Connecticut). She regularly gives lecture recitals at schools and festivals. For the past two summers Nuzova has taught and performed at the Interharmony International Music Festival and the Summit International Music Festival in Purchase, NY. She also serves regularly as a jury panelist. Ms. Nuzova is a member of the piano faculty of the Special School of Music in New York City and of Bard College's pre-college division.


Igor Pikayzen, violin

Award-winning Russian-American violinist Igor Pikayzen is confidently establishing himself as one of the most prodigious and in-demand soloists of his generation. Praised on four continents by critics and audiences alike for his “astounding technical ability” and a “majestically lush tone”, Igor Pikayzen “surely is at a forefront of a major musical career” (Moscow Times). 


Since his concerto debut at the age of 8, with Mozart's Violin Concerto #2 and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Pikayzen has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras spanning Europe, Asia, North and South America, including the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Radio Symphony, Bucharest Philharmonic, State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Milano Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonica Nacional de Chile, Filharmonica di Bacau, Izmir Symphony Orchestra, Bialystok Philharmonic, Stamford Symphony, Czestochowa Philharmonic, Lima Chamber Orchestra, Tbilisi Opera Orchestra, Antalya State Symphony, Yokohama Sinfonietta and countless others. In the last two seasons alone, he has given debuts and returned to Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York City, Tchaikovsky Hall and Minor Hall in Moscow, Teatro Llago in Frutillar, Congreso Nacional in Santiago, President Hall in Ankara, Flagey and Le Bozar in Brussels, Le Bourget in Montreal, Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City and Cadogan Hall in London, to name just a few. 


Pikayzen's 2017-18 season includes debuts and return engagements under the batons of Gürer Aykal, Łukasz Borowicz, Emil Tabakov, Enrique Batiz, Gintaras Rinkevičius, Lior Shambadal, Jerzy Salwarowski, Daniel Huppert, Roman Revueltas, Vakhtang Matchavariani, Christopher Lyndon-Gee and Hobart Earle. A frequent guest at some of the most prestigious chamber music festivals and series in the world, Pikayzen regularly appears at Verbier Festival in Switzerland, Napa Valley Festival in California, Semanas Musicales de Frutillar in Chile, Night Serenades Festival in Georgia, New York's Bargemusic and 92nd Street Y. 

A dedicated recording artist, Pikayzen's live performances and recordings have been broadcast on WQXR and RTVi (USA) Kultura (Russia) RTBF (Belgium) CBC (Canada) Radio Kultura (Poland) RadioSwiss Classic (Switzerland) Imedi (Georgia) TRT3 (Turkey) Beethoven Radio (Chile)as well as MediciTV and ViolinChannel. His extensive discography demonstrates his incredible versatility as an artist, and includes his debut album, with virtuoso works of Saint-Saëns, Ysaÿe, Paganini, and Wieniawski on the ProArte label, as well as live recordings of the Glazunov and Matchavariani violin concertos, Tchaikovsky's “Souvenir de Florence” with the Russian Virtuosi of Europe for Orchid Classics and “On My Journey now”; a recording of spirituals with the acclaimed baritone Lester Lynch for Pentatone Classics. A champion of new and under-performed composers, Pikayzen's recording of the Henri Marteau clarinet quintet with the Phoenix Ensemble has been met with critical acclaim; 2018 sees the release of the Brahms and Elliot Carter clarinet quintets for Navona/Naxos. 


Grandson of the legendary Soviet violinist Viktor Pikayzen, Igor was born in Moscow, Russia. After receiving his Bachelor's Degree from Juilliard, as well as a Master's Degree and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music, he is currently completing his DMA at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he holds the coveted position of Enhanced Chancellor Fellow and is on the violin faculty of Brooklyn Conservatory. Pikayzen is the 1st prize winner of the 2015 Edition of the International Violin Competition Luis Sigall in Viña del Mar, Chile as well as the Wronski International Violin Competition in Warsaw, in addition to being a silver medalist at the Szeryng and Kloster-Schöntal international violin competitions. A native of Moscow, Mr. Pikayzen shares his time between New York and Westport, CT, where he launched an annual summer music festival, Edelio. 


Caitlin Sullivan, cello

Cellist Caitlin Sullivan is a chamber, orchestral, and contemporary music performer based in New York City. Recognized as having “the understanding and emotional projection of a true artist” by the New York Concert Review, Ms. Sullivan is a member of The Knights as well as Decoda, a chamber music collective recently named the first-ever affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall. As a member of Decoda, Ms. Sullivan has helped to lead educational outreach projects in South Africa and Japan, as well as curate a chamber music performance, “Line and Expression,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a member of the Knights and frequent principal cellist for the ensemble, Ms. Sullivan has traveled extensively in the US and abroad, performing with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Bela Fleck, the Joshua Redman Quartet, and many others. She is also a member of the IRIS Orchestra in Memphis, TN, and made her debut as a soloist with that orchestra in the 2013-14 season. Ms. Sullivan has performed with other acclaimed ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, Ensemble Signal, Argento Chamber Ensemble, and the Wordless Music Orchestra, which she recently traveled with to Australia to perform the music of Max Richter.

Lora Tchekoratova, piano

Bulgarian pianist Lora Tchekoratova has appeared as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe. At age 21 she won first prize at the Washington International Competition for pianists, where she was also awarded the audience prize, and the prize for the youngest finalist. Subsequently, Ms. Tchekoratova made her debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. She also made recital appearances at the Phillips Collection (broadcast over WGTS-FM) as well as in Alexandria, Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York. Thereafter, she became a sought-after soloist, recitalist and teacher, frequently performing in major venue throughout the world. During the 2015/2016 Season, Ms. Tchekoratova is engaged to perform as soloist and chamber musician in New York, Toronto, Miami, Boston, St. Thomas, Chicago as well as in Europe.


As an active advocate for new music, Ms. Tchekoratova has premiered numerous contemporary works by American and Bulgarian composers. Currently, she is co-chair of the Executive Board of Bulgarian Concert Evenings in New York, a concert series, dedicated to the presentation of music and musicians from Bulgaria. The Lower Manhattan Cultural Fund, the Puffin Foundation, the Arthur Foundation and the Kittredge Fund have all awarded her grants for the presentation of lesser-known music from her country. In addition, she has presented Bulgarian music on tour with her husband, represented by the organization World Artists Experiences in Washington, D.C. She has appeared at many festivals for new music, such as Focus, Summergarden, and Piano Century at the Juilliard Theater, MoMA, and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. Recently Tchekoratova performed at the American Composers' Festival in New York's Symphony Space, and the Keys to the Future festival for new and recent piano music in New York.


Lora Tchekoratova is a dedicated chamber musician. She frequently performs with her husband, violinist Georgy Valtchev. During the past season they presented a series of concerts in Maryland, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. She also appears regularly in various chamber music programs with members of the New World Symphony, where she was a fellow for two seasons under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. These collaborations led her to performances in Miami (at the Lincoln Theater,) Palm Beach (Kravis Center,) New York (Union Club), as well as on tours in Boston, Long Island; and abroad in Prague, Rome, and Monte Carlo. She has also been a featured artist at many international festivals, including Kuhmo Nuori Musikii in Finland; Lappland Festspel and Bastad Festspel in Sweden; Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine; Apolonia, and Sofia Music Weeks in Bulgaria.

Lora Tchekoratova began her piano studies at age four and gave her first recital five years later at the State Music School in Sofia, Bulgaria. At age eighteen, she continued her studies at The Juilliard School in New York City, where she received her Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees as a student of Seymour Lipkin. Other teachers include Lydia Kuteva, Vessela Marinova, Prof. Jenny Zaharieva, and Oxana Yablonskaya. Currently she serves on the faculties of Mannes Prep, the 92nd Street Y School of Music in New York, and the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Institute in Blue Hill, Maine. She has made numerous recordings for Radio and Television in Bulgaria, Sweden, Finland, and the US. Her CD recordings for Gega New have been received with worldwide critical acclaim.

Mary Thorne, voice

Soprano Mary Thorne has been praised as an “engaging soloist, bright and agile.” Highlights from recent seasons include joining New York City Opera in Aleko/Pagliacci at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater and appearing as the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd with Theater 2020 which earned an Innovative Theatre Award nomination for Outstanding Ensemble. Mary also recently debuted the role of Ines in the American premiere production of Donizetti’s La Zingara. 


Frequently heard in Mozart roles, Mary sang Queen of the Night in Amore Opera’s production of The Magic Flute, presented by WQXR at The Greene Space. She performed the role of Pamina in Hubbard Hall Opera Theater’s Die Zauberflöte and opened Amato Opera’s final season as Despina in Così fan tutte. She has also sung Susanna, Barbarina, Blondchen, Papagena, and Mademoiselle Silberklang, with New York companies Bronx Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, and New York Metro Vocal Arts Ensemble. 


As a concert soloist, Mary has appeared with the New York Choral Society Summer Sings in Orff’s Carmina Burana and with the West Village Chorale Summer Sings in Fauré’s Requiem and Haydn’s Missa in Tempore Belli. She has performed with the Simon Sinfonietta of Cape Cod in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Haydn’s Missa Sanctae Caeciliae. New York City concert appearances include a solo recital on Trinity Wall Street’s Concerts at One series, soloist at Weill Hall with New York Lyric Opera, and first soprano soloist in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Richmond Choral Society. This season Mary joins Philomusica of New Jersey as the soprano soloist in Poulenc’s Gloria.


Originally from Washington State, Mary received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in voice from the City University of New York Graduate Center and holds a Master of Music degree from Mannes School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Mary teaches voice and musicianship at The Diller-Quaile School of Music and maintains a private voice studio. She has trained in Dalcroze Eurhythmics and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the American Guild of Musical Artists.