18 October 2023
By Ellie Palmer
The Nina Simone Piano Competition is a new biennial event specifically for talented young African American pianists, hosted in Cincinnati, USA
Main image: ©JP Leong courtesy of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
23-year-old Clayton Stephenson has been announced as the Grand Prize winner at the 2023 Nina Simone Piano Competition.
The pianist performed Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto before a live audience and jury during last Friday's concerto finals. At the conclusion of the evening, the jury awarded him the grand prize of $50,000 and performance opportunities.
Second place was awarded to Joshua Mhoon, while Kayden Kelly was awarded third place.
From left to right: Artistic Director of the Art of the Piano Foundation and Festival Awadagin Pratt, Joshua Mhoon, Kayden Kelly, Clayton Stephenson, CSO Music Director Louis Langrée. ©JP Leong courtesy of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Clayton Stephenson previously wowed audiences at last year's Cliburn Piano Competition in Texas as a finalist (and the first Black finalist). Hailed for “extraordinary narrative and poetic gifts” and interpretations that are “fresh, incisive and characterfully alive” (Gramophone), he was also named 2022 Gilmore Young Artist, 2017 United States Presidential
Scholar in the Arts and a Young Scholar of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation.
The Art of the Piano Foundation created the competition in order to give young African American artists a highly visible platform to showcase their skills, gain opportunities, experience, and support. Additionally, the competition aims to get more African American artists on concert stages in general, to commission new works, and to add more African American pianistic voices to the classical canon.
More information about the competition can be found here.