Fredonia announces winners of inaugural Sorel Piano Competition

The Fredonia School of Music is delighted to announce the winners of the inaugural Claudette Sorel Piano Competition, held in the Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall on Feb. 26. Ten finalists were selected from a group of talented young pianists, ages 15 to 18, based on an online first round of the competition. Each pianist selected a program of no more than 15 minutes to perform for the judges and live audience.

The ten finalists included: Adam Foreman (age 15, from Franklin, Pennsylvania), Jimmy Berger (age 17, from Buffalo), Ami Hatori (age 16, from Leola, Pennsylvania), Micah Leary (age 17, from Eden), Raymond Feng (age 15, from Pittsford), Jarod Yap (age 17, from Clarence Center), Thomas Flynn (age 17, from Flemington, New Jersey), Jordan Gaskin (age 18, from Williamsville), Charlie Liu (age 16, from Princeton, New Jersey), and Maddalena Ohrbach (age 16, from Getzille).

The judges for this year’s competition were Fredonia piano faculty members Eliran Avni, The Reverend Sean Duggan, Mary Marden Cobb, and Phyllis East.

“This is an event designed to celebrate the creativity and excellence of young pianists,” Rev. Duggan said. “It is named in honor of Fredonia piano professor emeritus, Claudette Sorel, and is generously supported by the Sorel Organization. We are truly grateful to them for making this competition possible.”

First prize was split between Jimmy Berger and Raymond Feng. Each of them will receive $1,250 cash, and time in the Fredonia recording studios with a sound recording technician. The judges also awarded three special prizes at $500 each. The Best Contemporary Work prize went to Charlie Liu for his performance of the first movement of Carl Vine’s Piano Sonata No. 1. Charlie is a student of Ingrid Clarfield. The Most Creative Programming Award went to Jarod Yap, who performed Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E Flat Minor, Fazil Say’s Black Earth, and Scriabin’s Etude in D Sharp Minor, Op. 8, No. 12. Jarod is a student of Mary Handley. The Best Beethoven Prize went to Ami Hatori for her performance of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”). Ami is a student of Marvin Blickenstaff.

“We were impressed with all of the performers,” Dr. Avni commented. “Each young artist has something valuable to offer and we encourage them all to continue their hard work, refining their skills and artistry. This was an exciting first year of the Sorel Competition, and we look forward to meeting many more talented young pianists in the coming years.”

The next Claudette Sorel Piano Competition is slated for Nov. 6. For more information, visit