2023 Awards previews in NYC

The world was treated to a preview of the 2023 American Pianists Awards last month with two special gatherings in New York City.

On May 24, we were welcomed to Yamaha Artist Services Piano Salon on Fifth Avenue. Though some of the 2023 finalists had previously known each other, this was the first occasion on which they all met in person. After a welcome reception with guests from Yahama, WBGO radio and the American Pianists Association, WBGO's Nate Chinen hosted a short concert, engaging each finalist in brief conversation before they performed their chosen tune for the night.

Caelan Cardello opened with the classic Billy Strayhorn ballad, "Star-Crossed Lovers." Paul Cornish, a passionate advocate for compositions by women, chose to play Geri Allen's "Unconditional Love." Esteban Castro shared his version of Cole Porter's "You're the Top." Thomas Linger chose to play an original composition he titled "Crystal Cave." And finally, Isaiah J. Thompson shared his version of "Hob Nob With Brother Bob," by Buddy Montgomery.

Watch it here!

The next day the finalists participated in the American Pianists Awards Media Day hosted by Jazz at Lincoln Center. A working lunch provided time with agents, publicists, American Pianists Association staff and three-time GRAMMY winner Dee Dee Bridgewater for guidance on establishing a successful career in music.

Following lunch, the finalists rotated between rehearsal time on the piano, professional headshots, media interviews and social media video creation.

Finally at 7:30pm, we welcomed the main event: two sets at Dizzy’s club hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater featuring each finalist playing two tunes of his choice. Enjoy recordings of both sets below and stay tuned for details on Premiere Series tickets and our kickoff community concert in September!


Early Set


Esteban Castro
"Get Out of Town" by Cole Porter
“My Native Shore” by Esteban Castro

Paul Cornish
“Along Came Betty” by Benny Golson
“Dolphin Dance” by Herbie Hancock

Caelan Cardello
“Anything Goes” by Cole Porter
“Darn That Dream” by Jimmy Van Heusen

Thomas Linger
“Search For Peace” by McCoy Tyner
“A Lovely Encounter” by Thomas Linger

Isaiah J. Thompson
“The Cake Walk Dilemma” by Isaiah J. Thompson
“A Prayer” by Isaiah J. Thompson


Late Set

Isaiah J. Thompson
“Everything Happens to Me” by Tom Adair
“Night Mist Blues” by Ahmad Jamal

Thomas Linger
“I Concentrate on You” by Cole Porter
“Night Ride” by Thomas Linger

Caelan Cardello
“I’ll Let You Know” by Cedar Walton
“Weather Bird” by Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines

Paul Cornish
“Unconditional Love” by Geri Allen
“5AM” by Paul Cornish

Esteban Castro
“Darn That Dream” by Jimmy Van Heusen
“Carolina Shout” by James P. Johnson

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Our diverse world shapes our music, the artistic language of our contestants. It delights, informs, and inspires us all. It is in this spirit that the American Pianists Association welcomes people of any race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and gender identity, as well as people with disabilities. We commit to learn from diverse talents, ideas, and voices. We pledge to create an environment for our artists, audiences, community partners, board, and staff that is based on the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Further, we commit to enacting strategic and annual plans that provide focused, measurable strategies for living out these values every day.