The World's Largest Prize for Pianists Goes to a GC Student

September 13, 2018

Nicolas Namoradze wins the Honens International Piano Competition. Han Chen, a fellow GC student, is a winner of the competition's Raeburn Prize.

Nicolas-Namoradze-3726 with piano

Pianist and composer Nicolas Namoradze (D.M.A., Music) won the 2018 Honens International Piano Competition, a prestigious prize that awards 100,000 Canadian dollars, or about $76,900, and is aimed at preparing its honorees for professional careers in music.

Han Chen (Credit: Raymond Huang)

Han Chen (D.M.A., Music) was one of two finalists who received a Raeburn Prize, which awards 10,000 Canadian dollars, or $7,690. The Honen prizes recognize “complete artists,” which the Calgary-based competition defines as “a thoughtful interpreter, a consummate collaborator, an awe-inspiring virtuoso, a communicator, a risk-taking explorer, a dreamer.”  
The Honens Prize is the largest in the world for pianists and is awarded every three years. “It’s taking me a while to process the full scale of what’s happened,” Namoradze said. “It is still sinking in!”
As the Honens Prize Laureate, Namoradze will also receive worldwide representation for three years; recitals in career-developing markets such as Berlin, London, and New York; residencies at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity; and the international release and promotion of recordings on the Honens label and the London-based Hyperion label. 
Namoradze’s performances have been described as “sparkling … sensitive and coloristic” by The New York Times and “simply gorgeous” by The Wall Street Journal. He has performed as a soloist with renowned orchestras and conductors in Europe and the United States. 
Namoradze is also a composer and was recently awarded the Fidelio Fortissimo Prize for young composers in Budapest. He is currently studying composition with Professor John Corigliano (Music). “I played some of my own music at Honens, and my work with Corigliano was among the most important experiences in my development as a composer,” Namoradze said.

Professor Norman Carey (Music), acting executive officer of The Graduate Center's Ph.D. and D.M.A. Programs in Music, called Namoradze "an astonishing pianist, a virtuoso of enormous emotional and intellectual power," adding, "He is already on his way to the world-class reputation he deserves.”
Chen started the D.M.A. program this fall. The Times described Chen as a pianist with "a graceful touch ... rhythmic precision ... hypnotic charm.” His debut CD, released by Naxos Records, consists of all-Liszt operatic transcriptions and was the first-prize winner of the 6th China International Piano Competition. 
Watch videos of Namoradze’s and Chen’s Honens Competiton performances here.

Watch Namoradze perform at The Graduate Center here.