"an excellent young pianist."
- New York Times
Winner of The Juilliard School's 2019 Leo B. Ruiz Carnegie Hall Recital Prize, The Juilliard School's 2018 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Prize, and the 2018 Paris Recital Prize from Poland's Prix de Tarnów Competition, twenty-four year old American pianist Mackenzie Melemed is currently studying in the highly selective two-year Artist Diploma program at The Juilliard School with Robert McDonald and Emanuel Ax, while also performing on the international stage. Praised by the New York Times as an "excellent young pianist" he has performed throughout the United States, in China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Japan, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland. Melemed graduated from The Juilliard School’s prestigious accelerated five-year-dual-degree program with his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree. Melemed's New York Debut Recital at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall will be held on December 13th.
In May, Melemed won the 3rd Prize from the 1st China International Music Competition. In the final round, he performed Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with The Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the National Center for Performing Arts in Beijing.
Melemed began the 2018-19 season in October with a concert tour in Finland, where he performed solo recitals, chamber music concerts, and concerti with orchestra. Highlights of that tour include the first performance of Barber’s Piano Concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the European premiere of South Korean composer Jeajoon Ryu’s Piano Concerto with Ralf Gothóni and the Kuopio City Orchestra. In November, he was invited to record the Ryu Piano Concerto with Ralf Gothóni and Sinfonia Varsovia. The CD will be released in 2019 on the Warner label and commemorates 30 years of diplomacy between Korea and Poland.
In December, Melemed gave a solo recital at WQXR’s The Greene Space performance hall and Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA. In January, Melemed performed at the Glafsfjordens Music Festival in Sweden, appearing in concerts with the David Oistrakh Quartet and bassoonist Sebastian Stevensson. In March, Melemed went back to Finland twice, performing Selim Palmgren’s Piano Concerto No.2 with the Tampere Filharmonia and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.3 with Saimaa Sinfonietta.
In April, Melemed performed Jeajoon Ryu’s Piano Concerto on tour with the KBS Symphony Orchestra (Korea) at the Beethoven Eastern Festival in Poland. The concerts were held in Lublin, Katowice (NOSPR), and in Warsaw at the National Philharmonic Hall.
In recent seasons, Melemed has concertized throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, performing solo recitals, chamber music, and concerti with orchestra. In February 2018, Melemed’s recording of Avner Dorman’s Three Etudes was released on the Steinway and Sons label.
Melemed owes his successes to a tremendous musical upbringing and to the constant support and love from his family. Former teachers include Dean Arvidson, Alexander Korsantia, Olga Rogach and William Smiddy. Additionally, Melemed has been honored to work with distinguished artists, such as Vladimir Feltsman, Stephen Hough, Robert Levin, Susan Starr, and Nelita True, among others.
When Melemed was three, his grandfather bought him a keyboard at a yard sale, leading to his enrollment in a beginner piano course. Performance at local senior centers soon became a weekly occurrence, and by the time Melemed turned seven, he had given over 200 concerts for senior citizens and charitable organizations. When Melemed appeared on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, she remarked, “what a bargain!” at the $1 price-tag for the instrument that ignited his passion for music. A series of small local performances connected Melemed with Washington D.C. in 2004, and Melemed was invited to perform at the White House Holiday Open House for five consecutive years. In 2007, only one year after beginning classical training, Melemed won the grand prize at the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition and gave his Carnegie Hall debut.
Before heading off to college, Melemed won the 5th Prize at the 2012 Gina Bachauer International Young Artists Piano Competition in Utah. As a result, he was invited to perform in the Czech Republic, Melemed’s first international travel experience. An extended layover in Helsinki piqued Melemed’s interest in Finnish, one of the most difficult foreign languages. After Melemed was accepted to The Juilliard School, he began studying Finnish at Columbia University. Melemed studied Finnish for three years, returned to Finland to meet a pen-pal he had been corresponding with, and gave his Finnish debut recital at a small church. Melemed heard about an upcoming piano competition in Finland and decided to apply. Melemed was awarded the 1st Prize and Chamber Music Prize at the 4th Maj Lind International Piano Competition in August 2017.
Melemed is passionate about performing new and underplayed repertoire. He took an immediate interest in the music of Israeli-American composer Avner Dorman after performing his Three Etudes and winning the Commissioned Etudes Prize at the 2012 New York International Piano Competition. Melemed recently championed Dorman’s Sonata No.2.
Melemed also values education as much as performance, and his verbal program notes often explain compositional styles and discuss historical circumstances behind a work’s conception. Melemed leaves his audience excited about classical music, often eager to further research an intriguing composer or work.