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NEC Pianists Storm Orleans Competition

Most Distinguished Contemporary Music Forum for Piano

NEC Alumnus Christopher Guzman Wins Grand Prize at 10th Orléans International Piano Competition

Andrew Zhou ’11 M.M. Takes four Prizes in Most Prestigious Piano Competition Devoted to Contemporary Music

Two NEC-trained pianists, Christopher Guzman ’07 A.D.(in photo right) and Andrew Zhou ’11 M.M. have taken the top prizes at the 10th International Orléans Piano Competition, February 23—March 4 in Orléans, France.  The competition is the most distinguished and richest of those devoted to contemporary music for the piano. Total prizes this year came to 50,000 euros.

Guzman, who studied with the late Patricia Zander while an Artist Diploma candidate, received the 10,000 € Blanche Selva Prize, the Sacem Prize ( 4600 €) for best performance of the newly commissioned work by Jacques Lenot, the Jolivet Prize (2500 €) for best performance of a work by Andre Jolivet, and prizes (in excess of 1500 €)  from the l’Academie des Beaux-Arts and the Jury  of Students from the Conservatory of Orléans. He also will receive a scholarship to make a professionally engineered recording and be featured in recital performances.

Zhou, who studied with NEC Piano Chair Bruce Brubaker, and just graduated last spring, received the Chevillion-Bonnaud Prize for Interpretation (5000€ ), the Olivier Greif Prize (2500 €) for best performance of a work by that composer, the Isang Yun Prize (2500 €) for best performance of a Yun work, and the Samson Francois Prize (2000€ ). 

A Texas native, Guzman began studying piano at age 9 and violoncello two years later. He has studied at the University of Texas at Austin, the Juilliard School before coming to NEC where he received the Conservatory’s most prestigious degree. Of special interest to Guzman is music of our time. He has collaborated with one of the nation’s preeminent contemporary chamber ensembles, Speculum Musicae, and numerous times with the New Juilliard Ensemble, including tours of the United States and France. The New York Times hailed his “coiled, explosive playing” of works by Christopher Theofanidis and Joseph Pereira at New York’s Society for Ethical Culture in 2002. He is a member of Second Instrumental Unit, a provocative new music ensemble based in the Northeast, and has participated in world premieres by such composers as Donald Martino, Bernd Franke, and Paul Schoenfield.  In addition to active concertizing, he currently teaches on the faculty of the Penn State School of Music.

A native of California, Zhou (in photo right) is currently working on a DMA at Cornell University and concertizing widely. He recently performed a program at Cornell of Bartok, Chin, Yun, Wuorinen, Stockhausen, Walter Zimmerman and a new work composed for him by Cornell faculty member Christopher Stark.

For further information, check the NEC Website.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory in Boston, MA offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, contemporary improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music, jazz, and contemporary improvisation.

NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, century-old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz, contemporary improvisation, and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115