Three Jazz House Kids graduates are finalists for the 2023 American Pianist Award

Three Jazz House Kids graduates have been announced as three of five finalists for the 2023 American Pianist Awards. The five finalists were chosen from more than 1,200 nominations across the country. From left to right: Caelan Cardello, Esteban Castro and Isaiah J. Thompson. (COURTOISY JAZZ HOUSE KIDS)

Jazz House Kids graduates Caelan Cordello, Esteban Castro and Isaiah J. Thompson have been announced as three of five finalists for the 2023 American Pianist Award by the American Pianists Association (APA).

Awarded every four years, the winner receives career support worth over $200,000 including cash prize, two years of career assistance, media and performance tour, artist residency and more.

“I started at Jazz House when I was 12 and immediately felt at home,” Cordello said in a Jazz House announcement. “My first instructors, Ed Palermo and Bruce Williams were so encouraging and taught me all the basics in a really fun way, it made me want to continue the next day. Thanks to the JAZZ HOUSE, I never doubted my way.

The five finalists were chosen from over 1,200 nominations across the United States and have already each received cash prizes of $25,000.

“I am very proud of the man and the musician that Isaiah has become,” said Juanita Thompson, parent of Isaiah Thompson, in the announcement. “The Jazz House should also be proud of the resounding results – they keep on delivering! Kudos to Melissa, Christian and the whole faculty for helping him see his way,”

On Wednesday, May 25, Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center will host the American Pianists Awards in preview, with sets at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. From September 2022 to February 2023, each finalist will fly to Indianapolis to perform live in front of a jury composed of solo and trio sets at Jazz Cuisine.

On April 21, 2023, the five finalists will return to Indianapolis to perform at Cabaret. And on April 22, 2023, the grand finale will take place at the Hilbert Circle Theater in Indianapolis. Each finalist will perform with the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra and three-time Grammy Award-winning singer Cécile McLorin Salvant.

“To think that these three incredible young artists came through Jazz House is both stunning and reaffirming. We know it’s a special place where like-minded young people come together and see their talents flourish,” said Ted Chubb, director of Jazz House’s summer workshop and cultural programming, in the announcement. “Each of these people has everything that JAZZ HOUSE seeks to instill in our students: art, creativity, empathy and citizenship. We are excited to see incredible careers unfold for Caelan, Esteban and Isaiah, but also what awaits our current students and recent alumni who aspire to the heights of musicality that these three represent,”

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