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The 2024 International Competition for Piano Judges

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Massimo Somenzi

Massimo Somenzi is a native of Venice, where he teaches while sustaining his concert career throughout Europe and abroad.

Somenzi studied piano with Maria Italia Biagi, the celebrated student of Rio Nardi and Alfredo Casella, and received his degree at the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music in Venice with the highest possible number of votes and special honors. In addition, he won the Mazza Prize as Outstanding Student of the Conservatory’s School of Piano Performance. He has studied Chamber music with Sergio Lorenzi, Franco Rossi, and Antonio Janigro, and attended courses at the Salzburg Mozarteum and the Association Musicale de Paris where he was awarded first place in chamber music.

Winner of many national and international awards in piano and chamber music competitions, Somenzi’s extensive concert activity includes appearances as a soloist, with orchestra, and, above all, with chamber music ensembles, working with renowned instrumentalists in the most prestigious concert venues of Italy, including Florence, Brescia, Siena, Venice, Turin, Bologna; as well as venues in France, Austria, Spain, Germany, the former Yugoslavia, the United States, Bulgaria, Turkey, Japan, Canada, Portugal, China, Albania, and Russia.

From 1991 through 2003, Somenzi served in Castelfranco Veneto as director of the Agostino Steffani Conservatory of Music. In late 2003 through 2021, he returned to the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory in Venice as a Piano Professor. He is frequently sought as a juror for many prestigious piano and chamber music competitions and gives master classes in piano performance and chamber music throughout Italy and abroad.

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Petronel Malan

Lauded as an unmistakably creative force in classical music, Petronel continues to enthrall audiences worldwide. Her critical acclaim culminated in the nomination of three Grammy® Awards, including “Best Instrumental Solo Album” for her recording Transfigured Bach. Further releases on Hänssler Classic included Transfigured Mozart, Transfigured Beethoven, Transfigured Brahms and Transfigured Tchaikovsky , which was awarded the gold medal from "The American Prize." 


After winning multiple gold medals in piano competitions, she maintains a full schedule as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician across the world. 

She made her debut with the Johannesburg Symphony at age ten and won all major national competitions, before moving to the USA. She completed her DMA degree at the University of North Texas under Joseph Banowetz. Other teachers included Adolph Hallis, Joseph Stanford, Albie van Schalkwyk, Steven de Groote, and Earl Wild.

Although residing in the United States, Petronel continues strong ties to her native South Africa. She received the “Rapport/City Press Prestige Award” as one of the “10 Most Inspirational Women in South Africa,” and has appeared on magazine covers, fashion spreads and even as picture-clues in crossword puzzles. She received the KKNK Kanna and KykNET Fiesta awards after recent South African tours. Apart from a love for vintage gowns, Ms. Malan’s stage wardrobe is designed by foremost South African designers.

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