Carmel Klavier Competition

Welcomes music of Gara Garayev

Located 20 miles north of Indianapolis, Carmel is the fifth-largest city in the state of Indiana. The city is known for its thriving cultural life and is home of the sumptuous Palladium Center for the Performing Arts. From June 2014 onward, the city drew students and professionals from around the world to the annual youth piano competition under the title of “Carmel Klavier International Piano Competition for Young Artists” founded by well-known pedagogue, author of children’s piano book “Tales of Musical Journey” Irina Gorin and Liz Seidel.

Jury Members Pawel Checinski, Aviram Reichert, Phoenix Park-Kim, Executive Director of the AAMF Dr. Jamila Javadova-Spitzberg and award-winning students
1st Prize Winner
Isaac Qian

2018 marked the 5th year of this contest. It took place at the Tarkington theater studios with the grand closing award ceremony and a gala concert held at the impressive Palladium hall between June 27th and July 1st. The contest attracted 200 young artists from around the globe. They were challenged in multiple categories that included solo, duet, ensemble, concerto and contemporary music performances. Students from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the USA gathered together to show their tireless commitment to achieve an exceptional artistic expression through piano performance. All finalists received music scholarships, with cumulative awards totaling $20,000.  
This year the Carmel Klavier Competition began its first year of collaboration with the Azerbaijan-American Music Foundation. The organizational committee of the competition led by president Irina Gorin extended their invitation to include piano works of the outstanding Azerbaijani composer Gara Garayev into the program of the competition as a featured composer in the contemporary music category. The first American publication of Garayev’s Selected Piano Works originated by Dr. Jamila Javadova-Spitzberg became the official publication of the competition.
Edited by the composer’s daughter Zuleyha Garayeva-Bagirova, it marks a historical significance as the first publication started in the USA. It is noteworthy to mention that the book includes a musical illustration of the entire publication recorded by people’s artist of Azerbaijan Murad Adigezalov and available to book holders on the Azerbaijan-American Music Foundation website. (

Featuring works of Garayev at the Carmel Klavier competition became significant since 2018 also marked the 100th Anniversary of Gara Garayev’s birth. Seven young artists including Minerva Cao (age 9), Isaac Qian (age 10), Jason Young (age 11), Micah Young (age 12), Sean McDonald (age 13), Mira Jiang (age 14), and William Temple (age 15) vied for the Carmel Klavier 2018 special Garayev award cash prize which totaled $750 sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan-American Music Foundation, and the Gara Garayev Award of Excellence Certificates signed by the composer’s daughter Zuleyha Garayeva-Bagirova. The Jury included well-known concert artists and pedagogues such as Peter Takacs, Pawel Checinski, Patrick Lechner, Cheng Wai, Aviram Reichert and others. All seven participants became recipients of the Carmel Klavier 2018 special Garayev award dispersed between 1st, 2nd and 3rd places and four honorable mentions. The winner of the first prize was 10-year-old Isaac Qian who performed “A Forgotten Waltz.” Second and third prize recipients were Sean McDonald and Minerva Cao, respectively, who performed “Polka” and “The Jolly Game.” Jason Young (“The Jolly Game”), Micah Young (“Prelude 24 in F minor”), Mira Jiang (“Tsarskoe Selo Statue”), William Temple (“Sketch”), received honorable mentions.

Additional Photos