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APA Artistic Partner, Michelle Cann

American Pianists Awards Announces Five Finalists

The pianists will compete for the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship, given every four years to an American classical pianist at the conclusion of the organization’s 13-month competition


Open to American citizens ages 18-30, the American Pianists Association and its American Piano Awards aim to find the best young, upcoming pianist every four years.

Five finalists were selected in a blind audition process from nominations by over 1,200 piano educators, artists, and industry professionals.

The finalists of the 2025 American Pianists Awards are Michael Davidman, Avery Gagliano, Sasha Kasman Laude, Elliot Wuu, and Angie Zhang.

They will compete for the prestigious Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship, given every four years to an American classical pianist at the end of the 13-month competition.

Each of the five finalists has already won a cash prize of $25,000 and will receive career support valued at more than $200,000 — including two years of career management and public relations assistance, a media tour, an artist residency at the University of Indianapolis, a recording contract with Steinway & Sons record label, performance engagements both nationally and abroad, and more.

The 2025 Awards winner will additionally embark on a new recital tour during the 2026-27 season, as well as performing with the American Pianists Association’s partner orchestras: the Phoenix Symphony, the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and more.

Furthermore, it has been announced that Michelle Cann will serve as the organization’s inaugural Christel DeHaan Artistic Partner, a position made possible by a Legacy Grant from the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation. Cann will oversee all artistic aspects of the competition including managing the nomination process, jury selection, and concert programming.


The competition will see each finalist play in the first live-juried performances of the Awards from October 2024 through February 2025. These concerts will consist of solo repertoire and a concerto performance with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra at the Indiana History Center.

All five finalists will return to Indianapolis for Discovery Week, held March 31 – April 5, 2025. Throughout the week, each pianist will perform a chamber music recital with the Dover Quartet at Christ Church Cathedral and a solo recital at The Jazz Kitchen.

The final juried performances of the 2025 Awards are the Gala Finals with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta, held April 4 - 5, 2025 at Hilbert Circle Theatre.

The 2025 jury will include Stephen Beus, Michelle Cann, Jane Coop, Carol Leone, Marina Lomazov, Tito Muñoz, Awadagin Pratt, Roberta Rust, Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, and Jack Winerock.

The 2025 Awards are a unique celebration of our five talented finalists,” APA President and CEO Chris Williams said. “It is incredibly rewarding to collaborate with these young pianists in the early stages of their careers and provide opportunities for them to grow as artists. I look forward to supporting our finalists throughout the Awards and beyond, as we launch the next generation of great American classical pianists.”

Previous winners include Kenny Broberg, Drew Petersen, Sean Chen, Grace Fong, Spencer Myer, Frederic Chiu, and Sara Davis Buechner.

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