Winner of The Juilliard School’s 2019 Leo B. Ruiz Carnegie Hall Recital Prize 2018 Arthur Rubinstein Prize, the Jade Medal at the 2019 China International Music Competition, and the first prize and chamber music prize from Finland’s 2017 Maj Lind International Piano Competition, 26-year-old American pianist Mackenzie Melemed’s international career continues to flourish. Praised by the New York Times as an “excellent young pianist” Melemed has performed in venues such as The White House (2004-2008), Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, and the Helsinki Music Centre. He’s performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Melemed was recently named one of ten annual recipients of The Juilliard School’s Career Advancement Grant, providing $20,000 in supplemental support. Melemed was also named a finalist of the 2021 American Pianist Association Awards, a distinction that includes a cash prize of $50,000.
With the help of Diana Glimm, the Altson family, and financial support offered by The Juilliard School and the American Pianists Association, Melemed has commissioned a new Piano Concerto from Israeli American composer Avner Dorman, to be premiered in May 2022. The project is ongoing, with plans for premieres on 3 continents during the premiere year.
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Melemed transformed his New York City apartment into a home studio, performing concerts via live-stream and began offering virtual lessons to students around the world. He frequently collaborated with his roommate, violinist Max Tan, on platforms like Groupmuse; together, they gave seven 60-minute recitals of new repertoire during April-July 2020. Melemed now maintains a small teaching studio (with students in the United States, Europe, and Australia) on the Resonance and Play with a Pro platforms and offers mini-lectures and monthly live-streamed performances on Patreon.
In August 2020, Melemed moved to Finland, where he has established a new home base. His success following the 2017 Maj Lind Piano Competition, coupled with his fluency in Finnish from Columbia University courses, launched his successful performance career with nearly all the country’s orchestras. His Finnish agency, Fazer Artists, procured many performance opportunities despite the persistent lockdowns and restrictions, including Beethoven Concerto No.4 with Ville Matvejeff and the Jyväskylä Sinfonia, Mozart Concerto No.13 with Johannes Gustavsson and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Mozart Concerto No.23 with Tuomas Pirilä and the Hyvinkää City Orchestra, and a solo recital for the International Sibelius Festival in Lahti. Melemed’s recent performance of Scriabin’s Piano Concerto with Leif Segerstam and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra was live streamed on February 18th, 2021.
Recent seasons included solo recitals at Carnegie Hall, Paris’ Salle Cortôt, Sardinia’s Santa Barbara International Music Festival, the Gilmore Rising Star Series, and WQXR’s The Greene Space; concerti engagements included Jeajoon Ryu’s Piano Concerto (2017) with Yoel Levi and the KBS Symphony Orchestra (Korea) at the Beethoven Easter Festival (Poland), Barber Piano Concerto with Pablo González and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra in Beijing.
Melemed’s discography features world-premiere recordings: Avner Dorman’s “Three Etudes” on the Steinway and Sons label (2018) and Jeajoon Ryu’s Piano Concerto with Ralf Gothóni and Sinfonia Varsovia on the Warner Classics label (2019).
Additional honors include 1st Prize and Commissioned Work Prize at the 2017 Iowa International Piano Competition, 5th Prize at the 2012 Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition in Utah, and the Commissioned Etudes Prize of the 2012 New York International Piano Competition. At the age of three, Melemed’s grandfather bought him a keyboard at a yard sale, leading to his enrollment in a beginner piano course. Performances at local senior centers soon became a weekly occurrence, and by the time Melemed turned seven, he had given over 200 concerts for senior citizens and charitable organizations. When Melemed appeared on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, she remarked, “what a bargain!” at the $1 price-tag for the instrument that ignited his passion for music. A series of small local performances connected Melemed with Washington D.C. in 2004, and he was invited to perform at the White House Holiday Open House for five consecutive years. In 2007, only one year after beginning classical training, Melemed won the grand prize at the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition and gave his Carnegie Hall debut.
Melemed is a recent graduate of the two-year Artist Diploma program at The Juilliard School with Robert McDonald and Emanuel Ax. Melemed also holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where he graduated from the prestigious accelerated five-year-dual-degree program. Former teachers include Dean Arvidson, Alexander Korsantia, Olga Rogach and William Smiddy. In addition to English and French, Melemed is fluent in Finnish and studied the language at Columbia University for three years.