Best of the best

Sorel competition finalists selected, finals set for Saturday

The State University of New York at Fredonia School of Music has announced a group of 10 talented, young pianists selected to move on to the Finalist Round of The Claudette Sorel Piano Competition, slated for Nov. 4, beginning at noon in Rosch Recital Hall.

Finalists include: Alexei Aceto from Ithaca, Henry Tang from Brooklyn, Harue Suzuki from Williamsville, Michael McClure from Kenmore, Deven Shah from Wattsburg, Pa.; Paulina Kotarski from Elmwood Park, Ill.; Craig Murray from Mt. Vernon, N.Y.; Lawrence Lan from East Setauket, Simone Viola from Clarence Center and Ketzia Lee from New York City.

“We were so impressed by the high-level of the applicants,” said Dr. Eliran Avni, Fredonia piano professor and competition director. “There are some wonderful, original voices. I can’t wait to meet them all and share their music making with the audience in Fredonia.”

Now in its second year, The Claudette Sorel Piano Competition consists of two rounds and is open to young artists aged 15 to 18 who are passionate about piano performance and repertoire. The First Round consisted of an online application process with questions about the performer’s programming and artistic vision, and submission of a high-quality video of a piece they are passionate about. Moving on to the next round, the 10 finalists have been asked to prepare a program of no longer than 15 minutes that demonstrates their artistic vision, such as works of a specific composer, known or unknown, a thematic connection between works, an original way of presenting the music, etc.

The finalist round is free and open to the public, and will also be live streamed. A reception will be held immediately following the performance, giving finalists the opportunity to receive feedback from the judges, and winners will be announced at the reception.

Judges for the competition are Dr. Avni along with School of Music faculty Fr. Sean Duggan, Mary Cobb, Anne Kissel and Phyllis East.

The Claudette Sorel First Prize is a $2,500 cash award and a recording session in Rosch Recital Hall with a sound engineer, and a final recording of the session. An additional $1,250 in Sorel cash prizes will be awarded. All finalists will receive a recording of the competition.

The Fredonia School of Music, in partnership with the Sorel Organization, established The Claudette Sorel Piano Competition to honor Ms. Sorel’s contributions to the piano world, and to shine a light on young pianists who are passionate about performing, committed to creating original programming, and enthusiastic about finding new ways of communicating with their audience.

For more information about the competition, visit online; for details about the 10 finalists and other event updates, follow the competition on Facebook.