KALAMAZOO—A Western Michigan University music professor took top honors in a prestigious international jazz piano competition in England, bringing home a new grand piano.
Jeremy Siskind, assistant professor of music, recently won the 2012 Nottingham International Jazz Piano Competition. He was one of 12 semi-finalists and bested pianists from Great Britain, Poland, Austria and the Republic of Mauritius, as well as five from the United States.
Siskind is the second pianist with WMU ties to win the competition. Logan Thomas, a graduate of the WMU School of Music, won the competition in 2010.
"Music isn't a competitive sport," Siskind says. "I look at these competitions as great ways for high-level musicians to meet and share ideas and inspiration. However, it's always nice to have what you do validated through this kind of process."
The competition took place Oct. 6-7 in Nottingham, England. The competition's grand prize is a Kawai grand piano valued at about $25,000. Siskind beat out three other finalists, Jerry Leonide, of the Republic of Mauritius, and Angelo DiLoreto and Nick Hetko of the United States.
Siskind, who joined the WMU faculty in 2012, graduated with high honors from the Eastman School of Music with degrees in jazz performance and music theory. He also earned a master's degree in English and comparative literature from Columbia University.
He has performed both jazz and classical music at Carnegie Hall, has twice been a finalist to be named the American Pianist Association's Cole Porter Fellow, and has been a guest on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. Siskind's 2010 CD release, "Simple Songs (for When the World Seems Strange)," was awarded four stars in a review from Downbeat and appeared on three jazz critics' "Best CDs of 2010" features. In 2011, Siskind was selected out of more than 40 pianists from around the world as the second-place winner in the Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition.
As a composer, Siskind has received recognition in the form of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publisher's Young Jazz Composers Award, Downbeat Magazine's Student Music Award, and has twice traveled to Japan as the American representative in Yamaha's Junior Original Composition competition.
In addition to performing and composing, Siskind is active as an educator. He is a regular contributor to Clavier Companion magazine as both a reviewer and columnist, and his collection of instructional jazz pieces, "Jazz Etude Inspirations," was published by Hal Leonard in 2011.