Professor Agigat Maharramova, PhD in Art, was born in Sheki, Azerbaijan . At age 13, she was enrolled in the Bul-Bul School of Music , the most prestigious institution for primary and high school music education. After graduation, she continued her studies at the Yzeyir Hajibeyli Baku Academy of Music (previously known as the Azerbaijan State Conservatory) where she completed her Master’s degree with renowned pianist and professor Nigyar Usubova. She continued her studies in a post graduate program at the Saint Petersburg State Conservatory, Russia, under the guidance of distinguished Professor of Music, Pavel Serebryakov. Professor Maharramova maintained an extensive schedule of performances in Europe, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine and other countries. From 1999, she joined the faculty at the Ataturk University in Erzurum, Turkey, where she is currently teaching piano. She was the winner of several competitions as both a soloist and an accompanist, and continues to perform as a soloist and chamber musician to this day. Professor Agigat Maharramova has served as a juror at a number of major international music competitions, and is the author of the book “Genesis and Advancement of the Piano Performance Culture of Azerbaijan” (pictured below).
Namik Sultanov is well-known as a distinguished pianist and pedagogue with exceptional lyrical gifts and a distinctive performance style. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, he showed extraordinary musical talent from a very early age. Playing violin and flute, he was a serious student of composition in his youth, composing more than 150 pieces that were featured at music school concerts. Although at that time a string student, he won first prize in the music school’s piano competition. At 12, deeply impressed by Van Cliburn’s stunning performance at the First Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, he began to self-study Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. Practicing day and night, he soon played all three movements for Ahad Israfilzade, chief conductor of the Azerbaijan Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Israfilzade immediately asked him to play with the Philharmonic, and the triumphant concert was a big sensation in the musical life of this capital city.
After this success, the Azerbaijan government sponsored Namik at Russia’s most prestigious conservatory, Moscow’s Central Special Music School. He studied under Professor Lev Naumov, a follower of the legendary Heinrich Neuhaus. Continuing his education under Professor Naumov’s supervision at the Moscow State Conservatory, he received his doctorate in performance in 1973. After graduation, he was invited to join the faculty of the Azerbaijan State Conservatory, soon appointed an associate professor with the added title “Honor Artist of the Azerbaijan Republic”.
Participating in numerous national festivals throughout Eastern Europe, Dr. Sultanov represented his country at the Third International Music Festival in Moscow in 1985, the Fourth International Piano Festival in Istanbul in 1998, the 1990 International Music Festival in Mexico City and International Music Festival in Germany in 2008. He has performed in various concert venues including Great Hall of the Moscow Conseravatory, in San Francisco Bay Area, in New York City ( Carnegie Hall), Vancouver,Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall in Istanbul , Izmir, Ankara, Mexico City, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Tallinn, and Baku.
In 1991, Dr. Sultanov was invited to join the piano faculty of Turkey’s Bilkent University, where he chaired the Piano Department and was Vice Dean of the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts. During his teaching years in Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the United States, he nurtured many students who have become winners and laureates in regional, national, and international piano competitions. In 1999, the Turkish Ministry of Culture formally recognized his distinguished teaching. Dr. Sultanov has been invited to serve on juries for national and international competitions and is sought for master classes in Europe , Canada, Mexico and USA . He recorded several CDs. Currently, he is a faculty member in San Jose State University, California, USA.
A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Russian baritone Alexey Lavrov made his Met company debut in the 12/13 season as the Herald in Otello and the Flemish Deputy in Don Carlo and has since appeared there as Silvio in Pagliacci, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Schaunard in La bohème, Ping in Turandot, Count Dominik in Arabella, the Huntsman in Rusalka, and Yamadori in Madama Butterfly.
Other recent career highlights have included the title roles in Aleko and Eugene Onegin at Opera Carolina, his role debut at Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore at the Macau International Music Festival, his debuts at the Opernhaus Zürich as Silvio in Pagliacci and Teatro Real in Madrid in a new production of The Golden Cockerel, Albert in Werther and Silvio with CulturArte de Puerto Rico, Malatesta at the Cincinnati Opera and Atlanta Opera, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette at the Festival Internacional de Ópera Alejandro Granda in Peru, his debuts at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre in Moscow as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and at the Mikhailovsky Theatre as Silvio in Pagliacci and Robert in Iolanta, the title role of Eugene Onegin at Germany’s Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg Festival and on tour with the Mikhailovsky Theatre in Japan, Donald in Billy Budd at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago, a Flemish Deputy in Don Carlo at the Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, and a recital with the Friends of Chamber Music Society of Miami with Ken Noda. Mr. Lavrov was also a member of the Young Artist Program at the Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre where he sang Moralès in Carmen, Shchelkalov in Boris Godunov, and Robert in Iolanta.
A native of the Komi Republic, Russia, Mr. Lavrov studied voice at the Republican Art College, Syktyvkar and the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. He was recently a semi-finalist at the 2014 Operalia International Voice Competition, and his many other awards and distinctions include 1st Prize at the 2014 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition, second prize at the 2014 Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation International Voice Competition, third prize at the 2014 Loren L. Zachary National Vocal Competition, the 2014 Musique et Vin Festival Prize, the 2014 Hildegard Behrens Foundation Award, winner of the 2010 Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition, second prize from the Byulbyul International Vocal Competition, fourth-prize winner of the Concurso Internacional de Canto competition in Buenos Aires’s Teatro Colón, and a diploma from the International Rachmaninoff Competition.
Mr. Lavrov made his debut at the Arena di Verona in Turandot in the summer of 2021, and this season makes his debuts at the Grand Théâtre de Genève as Napoleon in War and Peace and the Palm Beach Opera in L’Elisir d’Amore. He also returns to the Metropolitan Opera in Turandot.
Sergiu Schwartz’s international concert appearances have taken him to major music centers on four continents, including twenty European countries, Israel, Asia, Canada, and over forty U. S. states, as soloist with orchestras, in recitals and chamber music concerts. “Following in the footsteps of his fellow countrymen Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman, he is a product of the best of European romantic interpretative style and 20th-Century American technical acuity,” states New York’s Newsday, while Le Soleil (Canada) notes that “he stands out as one of the best violinists of his generation.” Comparing him to the greatest violinists, Fanfare – The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors, writes: his “warmth of sound and insight into the music raise to the level of expression achieved by Oistrakh” and his “tonal sheen approaches Milstein’s… for those who lament the passing of the great violinists of the middle of the last century, Schwartz’s collection should provide a great sense of optimism that a younger violinist still commands such assured rhetoric and expressive resources. Heifetz, Milstein, Oistrakh, Isaac Stern, Francescatti – they all come to mind.”
Mr. Schwartz has performed in venues including the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Jerusalem Theatre, and Rome’s Academia Santa Cecilia. In solo orchestral engagements, he has performed with conductors including Giuseppe Sinopoli, Sergiu Comissiona, James Judd, JoAnn Falletta, Mehli Mehta, Peter Maag, Bruno Weil, Antoni Wit, and Enrique Batiz. He is a frequent guest in festivals across North America, Europe, and Asia, and he serves on the artist faculty of the Bowdoin (Maine), Summit (New York), Mozarteum (Austria), and Keshet Eilon (Israel) international music festivals. Mr. Schwartz has been featured in broadcasts for radio and TV stations, including NPR, CNN, WXEL-TV’s “Great Performances,” and the BBC.
Alongside his performing career, Sergiu Schwartz holds the position as Professor of Violin (William B. and Sue Marie Turner Distinguished Chair in Violin) at the Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University, and as Professor at Haute Ecole de Musique et Conservatoire de Lausanne, Switzerland. He regularly conducts master classes and lectures at international music schools, colleges, and universities. Sergiu Schwartz also serves as a juror in major international competitions, including Tchaikovsky, Sarasate, Wieniawski, Michael Hill, Mozart/Salzburg, Oistrakh, Postacchini, Szeryng, Novosibirsk, as well as Canadian National, Sphinx, Stulberg, Blount-Slawson, Washington International, and others.
Rena Shereshevskaya (Masterclass)
We are privileged to have the well- known teacher and pianist, Rena Shereshevskaya, join our competition, giving a Masterclass to the Grand prize winner or 1 prize winner of “Florida Keys”IMC. She is a Professor of Piano at the Paris Alfred Cortot Music School and at the Conservatory of Rueil – Malmaison. Many of her students became prize- winners of grand international competitions; these students include Lucas Debargue (winner of the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition) and Alexandre Kantorow (Grand Prix winner at the XVIth International Tchaikovsky Competition)
We greatly appreciate that Professor Shereshevskaya – Mustafabeyli will share her incredible talent and expertise with the winners of our competition.
STANISLAV IOUDENITCH (Masterclass)
Known for a ravishing technique and his compelling musical conviction, pianist Stanislav Ioudenitch is part of the elite group of Cliburn Gold Medal winners, having taken home the Gold Medal at the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In addition to the Cliburn Gold Medal, he was also the recipient of the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for Best Performance of Chamber Music. His profoundly warm and intelligent performances have won him prizes at the Busoni, Kapell, Maria Callas, and New Orleans competitions, among others.
Ioudenitch has performed at major international cultural centers including Carnegie Hall (New York), Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Gasteig (Munich, Germany), Conservatorio Verdi (Milan, Italy), Mariinsky Theater (St. Petersburg, Russia), International Performing Arts Center (Moscow, Russia), The Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory (Moscow, Russia), Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing, China), International Piano Festival of La Roque d’Anthéron (France), Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris, France), Bass Hall (Fort Worth, Texas), Jordan Hall (Boston, Massachusetts), Orange County Performing Arts Center (Costa Mesa, California), and the Aspen Music Festival (Aspen, Colorado).
Ioudenitch has had the privilege to perform with the conductors James Conlon, Valery Gergiev, Mikhail Pletnev, James DePreist, Günther Herbig, Asher Fisch, Stefan Sanderling, Michael Stern, Carl St. Clair, and Justus Franz, and with orchestras including the Munich Philharmonic, the Mariinsky Orchestra, National Symphony (Washington, D.C.), Rochester Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony and the National Philharmonic of Russia. Chamber music partners have included the Takács, Prazák, Borromeo, and Accorda quartets.
His teachers have included Natalia Vasinkina, Dmitri Bashkirov, Galina Eguiazarova, and Karl Ulrich Schnabel, Leon Fleisher, Rosalyn Tureck, William Grant Nabore at the International Piano Foundation in Como, Italy (the current International Piano Academy Lake Como). He subsequently became the youngest teacher ever invited to give master classes at the Academy and now serves as its Vice President.
Stanislav Ioudenitch is the founder of the International Center for Music at Park University (Kansas City) where he is an Artistic Director and professor of piano, piano professor at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, visiting professor and vice president of the International Piano Academy Lake Como. In 2022 he was appointed The Fundación Banco Santander Piano Chair at the Reina Sofía School Of Music in Madrid, Spain.