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Monk Competition Semifinalists Named

A dozen drummers will vie for award and contract

Terri Lyne Carrington
2011 Monk piano competition winner Kris Bowers
Thelonious Monk

Twelve drummers from the United States and three other countries have been selected to compete as semifinalists in the 25th annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. The competition will take place in Washington, D.C., Sept. 22 and 23. All 12 semifinalists will perform at the Kennedy Center on the afternoon of the 22nd, and three semifinalists will then perform the following evening. Awards include a $25,000 first place scholarship and guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group for the winner, a $15,000 second place scholarship and a $10,000 third place scholarship.

According to a press release, “The evening will also feature a star-studded ‘Women, Music and Diplomacy’ Gala honoring former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as well as an appearance by the UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova.

Each year the competition spotlights a different instrument-this year it was the drums. According to the press release, the drummers heading into the finals are Dor Herskovits and Noam Israeli (from Israel); Kristijan Krajncan (from Slovenia), Martin Krümmling and Julian Külpmann (from Germany) and Americans Justin Brown, Dustin Kaufman, Abe Lagrimas, Jr., Kyle Poole, Jamison Ross, Colin Stranahan and Oscar Suchanek. Each entrant must be under the age of 30.

Competition judges include drummers Carl Allen, Brian Blade, Terri Lyne Carrington, Peter Erskine, Roy Haynes and Ben Riley. The Musical Director is George Duke and participants include Geri Allen, Patti Austin, Jane Ira Bloom, James Carter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Claire Daly, Akua Dixon, Nnenna Freelon, James Genus, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Ingrid Jensen, Linda Oh, Lee Ritenour, Ada Rovatti and Wayne Shorter, along with special guests Aretha Franklin and Chris Botti.

The September 23rd Competition Finals and Gala Concert at the Kennedy Center also will feature the winner of the 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composers Competition, Yusuke Nakamura of Tokyo, Japan, who will perform his winning composition, “Heavenly Seven.” The Composers Competition carries a prize of $10,000 and is presented to a composer who best demonstrates originality, creativity, and excellence in jazz composition.

Proceeds from the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition and All-Star Gala Concert will help fund public school jazz and blues education programs throughout Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Delta. BET will broadcast the competition, and the semifinals will be streamed online via the Smithsonian Institution and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz websites.

Event and ticket information

Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition Semifinals Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. National Museum of Natural History, 10th St. & Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Tickets are free of charge and will be distributed by the Smithsonian Associates at the National Museum of Natural History on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11:00 a.m.

Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition Finals and “Women, Music and Diplomacy” All-Star Gala Concert Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC

Tickets are $50 to $75 and may be purchased via the Kennedy Center box office in person, by calling 800.444.1324, or online at Kennedy Center.

Originally Published