Semifinalists Announced for 2023 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition, October 14-15 in New York City

Competition Festivities at Perelman Performing Arts Center Include All-Star Gala Concert Honoring Renowned Jazz Vocalist Dianne Reeves and Visionary Architect Frank Gehry

Washington, D.C. — Eleven outstanding young jazz pianists from around the world will compete in the 2023 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition October 14-15 presented in association with the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) on the historic World Trade Center campus.

The semifinalists are: Alan Bartuš of Lučenec, Slovakia; Joe Block of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Caelan Cardello of Teaneck, New Jersey; Esteban Castro of Hackensack, New Jersey; Paul Cornish of Houston, Texas; Brandon Goldberg of Miami, Florida; Connor Rohrer of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; Dabin Ryu of Seoul, South Korea; Jahari Stampley of Chicago, Illinois; Jordan Isaiah Williams of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Jenny Xu of Surrey and Vancouver, British Columbia.

These aspiring musicians will compete in the Semifinals on Saturday, October 14 from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at PAC NYC. The semifinalists will perform before an all-star judging panel of internationally acclaimed jazz pianists including Bill Charlap, Orrin Evans, Herbie Hancock, Hiromi and Danilo Pérez. Each semifinalist will perform for 15 minutes accompanied by a stellar rhythm section featuring bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Carl Allen.

From this group, the judges will select three finalists to perform in the Competition Finals on Sunday evening, October 15. At stake is more than $150,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a $50,000 first place award, $25,000 second place award, and $10,000 third place award. The evening will culminate with an All-Star Gala Concert featuring performances by artists including Ambrose Akinmusire, Jean Baylor, John Beasley (Musical Director), Dee Dee Bridgewater, A Bu, Terri Lyne Carrington, Anat Cohen, Joe Lovano, Romero Lubambo, Michael Mayo, Somi, Helen Sung, Ben Williams, and Lizz Wright among others. The Institute will present its Maria Fisher Founder’s Award to five-time GRAMMY Award-winning jazz vocalist and educator Dianne Reeves. Internationally celebrated architect Frank Gehry will receive the Institute’s Herbie Hancock Humanitarian Award for his commitment to arts education, especially jazz and classical music training for young people.

Proceeds from the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition and All-Star Gala Concert will support the Institute’s free, year-round jazz education programs, which serve students from under-resourced public schools across the United States and around the world.

Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition Semifinals
Saturday, October 14, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
PAC NYC, 251 Fulton Street, New York, NY 10007

Seats for the Semifinals are free of charge but limited, as space allows. Walk-up guests are welcome to check-in at the Audience Services desk for admission.

Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition Finals and All-Star Gala Concert
Sunday, October 15 at 6 p.m.
PAC NYC, 251 Fulton Street, New York, NY 10007

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition is presented in association with PAC NYC. Tickets are $59 to $149 and may be purchased via the PAC NYC website at

2023 Competition Semifinalist Bios

Alan Bartuš was born in Lučenec, Slovakia and studied jazz piano at Musik und Kunst University in Vienna, Austria. He went on to win an instrumental performance award at the Slovak Jazz Competition and has since performed with his trio at Bratislava Jazz Days Festival, Top Jazz Fest, Jazz Fest Trencin and Liptov Jazz Fest. Bartuš won the prestigious Austrian Ö1 Jazz Prize and attended the Manhattan School of Music. He has toured and recorded with saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, and collaborated with Tim Armacost and Peter Erskine. Most recently, Bartuš won the 2023 Artedea Jazz Competition in Austria.

Joe Block is a pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator and musical director who was born and raised in Philadelphia. He studied at the Juilliard School and Columbia University. Block has performed and toured with Wynton Marsalis, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Chris Potter, Alvin Ailey Dance Company and Leslie Odom, Jr. He arranges and composes for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis Septet, Juilliard Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia. Block is the musical director and pianist for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Future of Jazz Orchestra. He regularly performs with his own trio and quintet.

Caelan Cardello of Teaneck, New Jersey has been playing piano since age 5 and began performing professionally at age 16. As a Jazz House Kids student for seven years, he learned from the greatest jazz mentors and performed at Dizzy’s Club and the Montclair Jazz Festival. Cardello has performed with Christian McBride, Joe Farnsworth, Jimmy Cobb, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Rufus Reid. He was one of five finalists selected for the 2023 American Pianists Awards jazz competition. Cardello received his bachelor’s degree in jazz performance from William Paterson University and is now earning his master’s degree at the Juilliard School.

Esteban Castro of Hackensack, New Jersey was the youngest winner of the Montreux Jazz Piano Solo Competition and the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. A senior on full scholarship at the Juilliard School, he has received three ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards and was a 2023 American Pianists Awards finalist. Castro has played with Billy Drummond, Billy Hart, Joe Lovano, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Mark Whitfield and many other jazz greats. He has performed at the Blue Note, NPR Tiny Desk, Birdland, Dizzy’s Club, The Jazz Gallery, NJPAC, Smalls, The Black Cat, Carnegie Hall and Steinway Hall.

Paul Cornish hails from Houston, where he studied at the prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He was one of seven students worldwide selected to attend the jazz performance master’s degree program at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz at UCLA. Cornish received the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s 2020 New Note Commission and was awarded first place in the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. He also received the grand prize in the 2018 American Jazz Piano Competition. Cornish has performed worldwide with notable artists including Joshua Redman, Louis Cole, Theo Croker, Snoh Aalegra, Terrace Martin, Thumpasaurus and HAIM.

Brandon Goldberg of Miami began playing piano at age 3. At a young age, he was featured on national television in Little Big Shots, The Steve Harvey Show and Harry, hosted by Harry Connick, Jr. Goldberg has performed at the Newport, Litchfield, SFJAZZ, Twin Cities and Caramoor jazz festivals and appeared at Dizzy’s Club, Birdland, the Blue Note and the Apollo Theater. A 2022 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer awardee, he was commissioned to write two compositions performed by the Miami Symphony Orchestra. Goldberg has released two albums, both earning four-star reviews from DownBeat and being named Top Albums of the year.

Connor Rohrer of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania has been a member of the DownBeat Award-winning Teen Town jazz fusion trio since 2015. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, where he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in music theory and composition. He also serves as the teaching assistant for the university’s jazz piano department. Rohrer frequently performs with two-time GRAMMY winner Samara Joy. In addition to his performance abilities, he has developed his skills in composition, transcription/notation, analysis and pedagogy.

Dabin Ryu is an award-winning jazz pianist from Seoul, South Korea. Ryu received a bachelor’s degree in jazz performance and jazz composition from the Berklee College of Music and a master’s degree in jazz studies from the Manhattan School of Music. She now attends the Juilliard School’s Artist Diploma program. Ryu has performed with world-renowned artists including Kurt Elling, Billy Harper, Rodney Jones, Ralph Peterson and Neal Smith, and appeared at top venues including Blues Alley, Dizzy’s Club, Harlem Stage, Scullers, Smalls and Zinc Bar. An accomplished bandleader and composer, she has led international tours.

Jahari Stampley of Chicago is a National YoungArts Competition winner who has toured with Stanley Clarke and is featured on Derrick Hodge’s Color of Noise album. He has performed at leading venues including Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, SFJAZZ and The Met Philadelphia, and headlined and performed solo piano tours in Germany and Switzerland. Stampley is the bandleader and pianist for the feature film Spinning Gold. He won the Bösendorfer prize at the 2019 American Pianists Awards jazz competition. Stampley created all of the animation, art and music for his first music app, Piano Chronicles.

Jordan Isaiah Williams is an internationally recognized pianist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who has toured the U.S. and internationally with Bobby Watson, Curtis Lundy, Camille Thurman, the Darrell Green Quartet and Isaiah Collier. He performs regularly with Philip Harper, Winard Harper, Duane Eubanks, Ruben Fox, Taru Alexander, Corey Wallace and many others. Originally from Philadelphia, Williams began his classical and jazz piano instruction at age 7 at the Settlement Music School and the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and the Performing Arts. Recently, he performed at the 2023 Newport Jazz Festival as part of The Bobby Watson All-Star Quintet.

Jenny Xu is a pianist from Surrey and Vancouver, British Columbia who received her bachelor’s degree in music performance from the Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship. She earned her master’s degree in jazz piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where she held the piano chair in the Latin GRAMMY-nominated Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra and worked closely with Paquito D’Rivera and Irakere. Xu has performed at more than a dozen festivals and shared the stage with artists including Candido Camero, George Garzone, Eddie Gomez, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Liebman, Harold Mabern Arturo O’Farrill, New York Voices, Kendrick Scott and Buster Williams.

Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Competition

Formerly the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Competition, the Hancock Institute Competition is recognized as the world’s most prestigious jazz competition and for discovering the next generation of jazz masters, including saxophonist Joshua Redman; vocalists Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jane Monheit, Gretchen Parlato and Jazzmeia Horn; pianist Kris Bowers; bassist Ben Williams; and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, among others. Major scholarships and prizes are awarded to the talented young musicians participating in the Competition. The scholarships help pay tuition for college-level jazz education studies and provide funds for private, specialized instruction.

Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is a nonprofit education organization offering the world’s most promising young musicians college level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and presenting public school music education programs for young people around the world. The Institute preserves, perpetuates and expands jazz as a global art form, and utilizes jazz as a means to unite people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. All of the Institute’s programs are provided free of charge.

Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC)

Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) is the cultural cornerstone and final public element of the World Trade Center site. Led by Board Chair Mike Bloomberg, Executive Director Khady Kamara, and Artistic Director Bill Rauch, the new performing arts center in Lower Manhattan is a dynamic home for the arts, serving audiences and creators through flexible venues enabling the facility to embrace wide-ranging artistic programs. The PAC NYC Inaugural Season will feature commissions, World Premieres, co-productions, and collaborative work across theater, dance, music, opera, film, and more.