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Ellis Marsalis Jazz Piano Competition Winners Announced

Three top finalists from the U.S. and Japan receive cash, prizes, and numerous career opportunities

saiah Thompson, Rina Yamazaki, and Ben Paterson, winners of the 2018 Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition
Left to right: Isaiah Thompson, Rina Yamazaki, and Ben Paterson, winners of the 2018 Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition

Marshall University and the Nu Jazz Agency have announced the winners of the inaugural Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition, held June 22-23 in Huntington, W.Va. Ben Paterson (Philadelphia, Pa.) won first place; Rina Yamazaki (Saitama, Japan) won second place and the Nu Jazz Agency’s Chico & Lupe O’Farrill Award for Best Original Composition; and Isaiah Thompson (West Orange, N.J.) won third place and the award for Best Rendition of an Ellis Marsalis Song.

The Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition, named after the NEA Jazz Master, is held triennially in Huntington. The two-day competition, according to a press release, “challenges competitors’ skills and abilities across different genres, styles, and formats of the jazz idiom.” Seven finalists were chosen from among over 160 entries and 45 qualifying submissions from 13 different countries, to vie for over $200,000 in cash and prizes.

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