American Pianists Association presents classical pianist Frederic Chiu in a brunch concert at the Columbia Club, located on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, Sunday, January 31, 2016.

Columbia Club

11:00 AM || Mimosas in the Grand Lobby

11:45 AM || Brunch in the Crystal Terrace

12:30 PM || Concert by American Pianists Association 1985 Classical Fellow, Frederic Chiu

Frederic Chiu 1.31

TICKETS: 317.940.9945 |

APA: Where did you grow up?

FREDERIC: Born in Ithaca NY, but lived in Indianapolis since age 6

FC 2 years old picFrederic Chiu at age 2

APA: What attracted you to the piano/can you play any other instruments?

FREDERIC: My parents had an old player piano, and they started me on lessons at age 6. I also played cello starting age 9, oboe age 11 and French Horn age 12. I stuck with cello for 7 years, and played in Indianapolis All City and All State orchestras, but the piano was my first instrument and I kept with it through all of that.

FC Band uniform picFrederic Chiu in his band uniform

APA: What age were you when you started to play the piano?

FREDERIC: Lessons started at age 6. I didn’t play before that, as we didn’t have a piano before moving to Indianapolis.

APA: How has your life changed since winning APA’s classical competition?

FREDERIC: I won the APA competition very early, in both the APA’s life and my own life! 1985, when I was only 20. I was just starting out as a performer, so the experience that the APA brought me, through the competition itself and the various concerts that came about because of it, were all significant and changed my perspective on what a career meant.

APA: What does it mean to you to be part of the APA family?

FREDERIC: Winning the APA’s classical competition was one of the most important things to happen to me in my career. I’m so happy to see the organization moving forward, constantly breaking new ground and promoting its values, and I’m particularly proud to have been able to contribute to that, as a Fellow, in my role as director of Deeper Performance Studies workshops, as an adviser, as a judge.

IMG_4840American Pianists Association 30th Anniversary Party
(l to r): ’89 Classical Fellow Stephen Prutsman, ’85 Classical Fellow Frederic Chiu, ’95 Classical Fellow J.Y. Song, ’09 Classical Fellow Grace Fong, ’94 Jazz Laureate Reginald Thomas, ’07 & ’11 Jazz Laureate Jeremy Siskind, APA President/CEO & Artistic Director Joel Harrison

APA: Why should someone support the American Pianists Association?

FREDERIC: The APA is unique among the major competitions in how it approaches the idea of competition and career development. Obviously, young pianists need financial support and logistic support, and the APA provides both. And then there is the moral and community support that is priceless.

It is also an inclusive organization that welcomes the involvement of enthusiasts, as audience members, as host families, as sponsors, as volunteers. The APA deserves to receive support from people, but people should support it for their own self-interest of being involved in great music-making and community-building.

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APA: Favorite memory from your APA experiences?

FREDERIC: Monster piano concerts with other Fellows, where we played Czerny arrangements for 8 pianists, and an arrangement of The Blue Danube.

APA: Favorite memory with you host family?

FREDERIC: When I was in the competition, I was “local”, so my host family was my own family! However, I’ve since met a number of host families and had the great pleasure of staying with them while judging and performing. My family has moved away from Indianapolis, so now I only have a few friends from that long-ago period. But there are always new friends that I meet every time I come to Indianapolis.

APA: Interesting fact about yourself?

FREDERIC: I received a BS in Computer Science at Indiana University, but in fact, I was already playing around with an IBM mainframe at Indiana Central College (aka Indiana Central University, aka Indianapolis University) when I was pre-teen, accompanying my father who was a professor there, in Math, Physics and Computer Science. He would grade papers and I would punch cards and create graphic images with the printer through computer formulas.
I was also the fastest typist in my typing class in 8th grade. I was always comfortable with keyboards, I guess!



How were you introduced to the American Pianists Association?

Jan Rost, a former American Pianists Association Executive Director (not sure of her exact title at the time) was my friend from our days of getting a theatre pipe organ installed in the Hedback Theatre where she had long been active in Footlite Musicals, Inc. management, prior to her APA duties. She made me aware of APA, and I remember an initial gathering at the lovely home of L. H. and Dianne Bayley.

Dianne & L.H. Bayley

L.H. & Dianne Bayley

I also recall attending the dinner in the Clowes Hall lobby before the 1993 Classical Finals when Nicholas Roth was declared a Fellow. My first hosting somewhat later actually was for Nicholas Roth when Joni and Nick Hrisomalos had to be out of town and Jan Rost asked me if I could host him, which I did and enjoyed very much.  I also hosted a reception in my home one time later for Nick, and we have become good friends over the years, as has been my great benefit from almost all my hosting opportunities.

Who was the first Finalist you hosted? Can you tell us about that experience?

Since I was not officially Nick’s host family, my first “official” hosting was for young competitor Aaron Parks who was named the Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz in 2001.  I then hosted Tom Rosenkranz who became the 2003 Lucina Ball Moxley Classical Fellow, followed by Spencer Myer who became the 2006 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow.

What has been your most memorable hosting experience?

They have all been memorable, of course. When Tom Rosenkranz was being hosted by me, Joel Harrison asked me to fix lunch for the judges, and they came here right after Tom had played at Christ Church Cathedral, so we thought he should eat elsewhere and then sneak into the house via the servants’ entrance which he did, quietly going upstairs until the lunch was about over.  I then called him downstairs, and he was able to greet the judges briefly before Janet Nine (I believe) ushered them out for their next event.  My last hosting has been Sean Chen, and what can I say about this terrific young guy?

Tim Needler & Sean Chen

Tim Needler & Sean Chen

He is so personable, so non-egotistical, so easy to be around, so accommodating, and his practicing many nights from 10 or 11 until 3 or 4 in the morning is so restful to me that I go right to sleep when he begins and don’t know when he finishes until he tells me the next day what time he went to bed!

Have you made any lasting friendships through your involvement with the American Pianists Association?

Yes, of course, I have made many lasting friendships, not only counting the wonderfully talented people I have hosted, but those whom I have temporarily hosted when their official families were unavailable, people like the afore-mentioned Nicholas Roth, Michael Sheppard, Adam Birnbaum, and Stephen Beus. Also, there are the wonderful, lasting  friendships formed with many other American Pianists Association supporters, another one of the great benefits of helping to further the work of APA.

What has been your most memorable APA concert or event? 

It is difficult to select just one event, but if pressed, I would have to say the final concert of the 2014 Classical Gala Finals when Sean Chen performed his fantastic solo work in the Bartok Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Sean Chen with ISO

Sean Chen with the ISO

Such exciting playing and such an involved and responsive audience!  It was an evening that I shall long remember.

Why should someone support the American Pianists Association? 

Well, why not? APA is increasingly more effective in the world of piano competitions and is gaining more and more respect in the Indianapolis arts community (not an easy task in our city!); it allows us all to enjoy excellent piano music of all genres and it depends upon all of us to spread the word to our friends and acquaintances as we continue to encourage greater success for this fine organization.

Where did you grow up?  

I grew up in Fort Wayne, went to Notre Dame for a degree in marketing, joined my father’s firm of manufacturers’ representatives, established the Indianapolis location, and operated the company with my younger brother for over 50 years before retiring in 2013.

Are you from a musical family?

Yes, I suppose so.  My maternal grandmother was a decent pianist, my mother played the piano, my father sang in the church choir, my older sister plays the piano and my two younger brothers play guitar.

Favorite venue in Indianapolis?

I very much enjoy the Palladium and am looking forward to Sean Chen’s appearance there with the Carmel Symphony on November 14 in the 3rd Piano Concerto of Rachmaninoff.

Center for the Performing Arts

Palladium in Carmel Indiana

I also enjoy the Warren Performing Arts Center because it houses the beautifully-restored 1928  theatre pipe organ that was originally in the downtown Indiana Theatre, which is presented in public concerts of enjoyable popular music from the great composers like Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, etc. by the local chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society that I have long been involved with.

Warren Performing Arts Center organ

Organ at Warren Performing Arts Center

Can you play the piano? What age did you start?

I do play for my own enjoyment and started picking out tunes when I was 3 or 4, playing mostly by ear although having studied piano since age 5 and classical organ from age 10, I can read music if I try hard enough.  Blessed (or cursed?) with so-called perfect pitch, it is just easier to play by ear than to read music for non-classical selections.

Can you tell us about your favorite instrument you have in your home? 

I enjoy playing and listening to the three grand pianos (7-ft. Steinway, 7-ft. Mason & Hamlin, and 5-ft. 8-inch Baldwin) all of which are “reproducing” pianos, playing from special rolls that contain the expression used by the artist when he or she cut the roll, mostly from the 1920s and early 1930s.  I would say the Mason & Hamlin is my favorite one to play and seems to be the one most of the visiting artists prefer.  I have recently purchased the 9-ft. Mason & Hamlin Ampico (reproducing) concert grand from Jim Steichen’s widow Joan that will be rebuilt and restored, being only one of two concert grand’s Mason & Hamlin installed the Ampico mechanism in, the other being now in San Francisco, and I will be selling my 7-ft. Mason & Hamlin when the larger one nears the end of its restoration process, sometime next year.

WFYI’s Jill Ditmire reflects on co-hosting the American Pianists Association’s 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards Semi-Finals and Finals


Co-hosting the Friday night Semi-Finals was a treat. Any time you share a stage with Matthew Socey you have to be ready for anything. I was more than happy to be his “sidekick” and let him navigate us through the Finalists’ performances that night.

Jill Ditmire Matt Socey Semi Finals

The scene at The Jazz Kitchen was electric. The capacity crowd couldn’t wait to hear the guys perform their sets.

crowd at the Semi Finals

The Finalists were all balancing nerves and energy as they waited patiently for their turn to play. Each would come and stand “off stage” in the hallway that leads from the back of The Jazz Kitchen through the kitchen and connects to the basement stairs and the door to the stage. Matt and I watched and listened from that spot as we waited for our turns at the microphone. I also had a number of terrific conversations in the ladies room with Sullivan’s sisters and Kris’ mom! During the “half time” of the show, I was live ON AIR in the very back room of The Jazz Kitchen – interviewing various American Pianists Association folks and of course Dianne Reeves and Christian McBride. It was a late, late night for all, but worth it.


Co-hosting the Saturday night Finals was even more of a thrill for me. Having had the pleasure of interviewing each of the Finalists over the past few months, I really wanted to “see” what they had talked about when I had asked each of them what they thought performing at Hilbert Circle Theatre would be like.

stage at HCT

That entire day brimmed with excitement and energy from the morning rehearsals till the ON AIR countdown that night. But how could it NOT have been a magical musical evening??

Christian McBride hosting.

Christian McBride and Jill Ditmire

Dianne Reeves performing.

Dianne Reeves

The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra as the “house band.”

Sullivan Fortner with BWJO

And, Hilbert Circle Theatre transformed into a sleek jazz nightclub.

APA Final Edits ©2015 Mark Sheldon -5484

Add the incredible talents of Kris, Sullivan, Emmet, Zach and Christian.

APA OPENING RECEPTION©2015 Mark Sheldon -5954

The WFYI Productions videographers followed the action from every angle.

backstage 1

backstage 2

backstage 7

And the audio engineers made sure the night was as pure to the ear as to the eye. I smiled from the moment I walked into the Circle Theatre that morning until I took the after show sip of champagne in the mezzanine as those attending raised a congratulatory glass to Sullivan Fortner, who was named the winner, and to the American Pianists Association for a job well done.

WINNER Sullivan Fortner, credit Mark Sheldon


WFYI is proud to share the broadcast of the Finals that many people watched LIVE that night, either at the Hilbert Circle Theatre (or on the webcast

Join me live on WFYI-FM (90.1) on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 5:44 PM (or online at as I interview the American Pianists Association’s President/CEO & Artistic Director, Joel Harrison about the final product that airs that night at 9 PM on WFYI-TV (20.1) (or online at 



Photography by Mark Sheldon and Clayton Taylor



An Interview with American Pianists Association Board Member, Host “Mother” and Longtime Supporter – JANET NINE

APA: How were you introduced to the American Pianists Association?

JANET: Joan and Mike Kenniff discovered the American Pianists Association early after their 1998 relocation from New Jersey to Indiana.  Joan was a NJ friend who taught piano and served as President of the New Jersey Music Educators Association. She offered to ease my Indy assimilation after 37 years living in the NYC area.  My husband John and I were invited to a Great Homes, Great Music event and the rest is history.

John Nine & Michael Kenniff
John Nine & Mike Kenniff at an APA fundraiser in 2009

Shortly after the lovely evening, Joel Harrison asked that I join him at one of his famous lunches. Joan’s enthusiasm for the organization and Joel’s passion convinced me that APA’s mission was worthy of support.


Adam Golka, Janet Nine & Joel Harrison outside Lincoln Center after Adam’s 2015 debut at the hall


APA: Who was the first Finalist you hosted? Can you tell us about that experience? 

JANET: Aaron Parks, the 2001 Jazz Fellow, was our first APA house guest.  We made a miserably strong pot of Japanese green tea and reminisced about our years of living in Japan. I enjoyed hearing a jazz pianist for the first time ever.


APA: What has been your most memorable hosting experience?

JANET: My most memorable was a non-musical evening during the joint hosting of Dan Tepfer and Adam Golka. Dan holds a degree in Astro Physics. We spent the night standing in the driveway looking through my birding telescope observing the numerous moons of Saturn.  Other hosting experiences are all memorable for a variety of reasons. Michael Lewin, Jerome Lowenthal, Radoslav Kvapil, and Victor Rosenbaum each brought a unique visitor’s story which can’t be shared in anything less than a lengthy epistle and may need censoring.


APA: Have you made any lasting friendships through your involvement with the American Pianists Association?

JANET: I’d like to think that the friendships we have made through hosting young candidates will continue for multiple years. Michael Sheppard, Stephen Beus, Adam Golka and Eric Zuber are welcome house guests and considered honorary family members. I cherish newly developed friendships between APA board members and supporters alike.

Stephen Janet Eric

Stephen Beus, Janet Nine & Eric Zuber at the 2013 Classical Fellowship Awards


APA: What has been your most memorable APA concert or event?

JANET: My most memorable concert was the 2009 Classical Finals when Adam Golka played a glorious Rachmaninoff 3 and won one of the two first place awards. We were his host family making the win extra special.

Fixed best Adam and family

Janet Nine with Adam Golka and his family at the 2009 Classical Fellowship Awards

My most memorable event is ongoing. Everyday that our home is filled with live piano music is an ‘event’ whether it is a guest learning a new piece or refining something already in their repertoire.

Ben at practice

Adam Golka practicing at the Nine’s while their grandson watched in 2009 

Eric Zuber is currently here banging out Liszt’s beastly Dante Sonata. Believe me, that is an event! I’m sorry it can’t be shared.

Taking the guys to Raleigh Limited at The Fashion Mall at Keystone to purchase their first decent suit is another ‘event.’ They are deliciously excited and grateful to expand their starving artist’s wardrobe.




Janet and her husband John recently donated a Steinway piano to Purdue University (more about selection and donation process here). 

The piano will be dedicated at 7 PM on Friday, September 11, 2015 at  Purdue University’s Loeb Playhouse.

American Pianists Association’s President/CEO and Artistic Director, Joel Harrison will make an introduction, and Sean Chen and Eric Zuber will be the featured performers (more here).

Eric Joel Janet John Craig 2

Craig Gigax, John & Janet Nine, Joel Harrison, Eric Zuber at Steinway & Sons in New York selecting the piano



APA: What makes the gift of the Steinway D to Purdue University so special to both you and your husband John?

JANET: Aside from the fact that they are in great need of a concert instrument, it will allow them to invite top ranked musicians to perform on their concert series without fear of embarrassment by an inferior piano. We have a ten year agreement to sponsor American Pianists Association Jazz and Classical winners at a Purdue concert on alternate years. John and I have both been involved in giving to the athletic program at Purdue in the past, but with this gift we wanted to try and balance the scales between our athletic and artistic giving. Now, more so than perhaps any time in the history of this country, music and the arts need patronage in order to help sustain them and keep them flourishing in our society. We hope that this gift will contribute to a growing and vibrant musical community at Purdue, and that the beautiful music produced through it will touch the hearts and lives of all those who listen.



A Cold Call and a Whole Lot More!

By Steve Lyman, Chairman of the Board

About six years ago a cold call from Joel Harrison, APA’s ever enthusiastic CEO and Artistic Director, ultimately led us two years later to Carnegie Hall for the solo performance of one of APA’s Jazz Finalists, Jeremy Siskind.  I wrote about that journey then, A Cold Call and Carnegie Hall, and now I write again after the 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards finale with Sullivan Fortner being named the Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz. A whole lot more has happened since Joel made his first call!

APA  Final Edits ©2015 Mark Sheldon -6020

The “Brothers”

You see Jeremy and Sullivan have a lot in common.  Both are extraordinary musicians, of course, or else they wouldn’t have been chosen to participate in the year-long competition.  But they also share the experience of “Living with the Lymans” during their respective visits to the Heartland as APA Jazz Finalists.  As their host family we learned a lot about Jeremy and Sullivan – Jeremy craves Cheerios in the morning and Sullivan’s taste is for Raisin Bran.  And we learned so much more about what brought them to love the music they play and what drives them to express themselves through their music.  Bottom line is that each of these young men is a pure delight and will always be considered “family” and know that our door is always open to them.  Indeed, these “brothers” have made it a point to take us up on that and regularly wish us well on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other special days.

APA  Final Edits ©2015 Mark Sheldon -7524

The Families

But their real families are something special too.  During the week of the Finals we had the greatest pleasure to spend a lot of time with the Fortner family, Mom, Dad and his two wonderful sisters. The Fortners being from New Orleans, I’m sure that we will get together again as we travel to NOLA to visit the son whose last name is actually the same as ours.

APA  Final Edits ©2015 Mark Sheldon -7501

The Jazz Guys

Speaking of family, the Finalists, Zach, Emmet, Kris, Christian and Sullivan have become family as well.  Their friendship will be lasting. These guys will continue to share their dedication to the music they play, and now will share the APA experience of the competition and community outreach to local high school musicians whose lives they each touched.

APA Discovery Week Semi Finals ©2015 Mark Sheldon -6883

The Host Families

Being a host family for these young men may seem like a daunting burden to some but I think I can speak for all of us – Bob and Toni Bader, Kim Thomas, Christian and Elaine Wolf and Lin Frauenhoff – that we wouldn’t trade our time feeding, transporting, supporting and sometimes acting as fashion consultant – for anything.  It’s not a burden.  It’s an honor.

Sullivan Fortner and Lymans

The Jazz Finals

Finally, a word or two about this year’s Jazz Finals held at the Hilbert Circle Theater to a sold out audience and heard by millions all over the world.  In greeting all who were attending and listening, Mayor Greg Ballard made a point of saying that Indianapolis welcomes everyone!  How true. Grammy Award winner, Dianne Reeves, was spectacular as she was accompanied by each of the guys in their duo performance.  The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra was exceptional and allowed each Finalist to shine.  The judges’ daunting task of selecting the winner from among all of these winners was not to be envied. But choose they did and Sullivan is now the Fellow.  As Sullivan’s host family we’re proud of him as we are also proud of the other superb Finalists.  We’ll be hearing a lot from all of them in the future.

And most of all I’m proud of the American Pianists Association, its amazing staff and its growing list of strong supporters across the country for making this year’s Jazz Fellowship Awards by far the best and most successful competition of its kind in the world.


The Future

The future is bright as the APA focuses on the future with the Classical Fellowship Awards that will culminate with the announcement of the Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow in the Spring of 2017.  I hope you will join me in supporting the APA’s Mission to discover, promote and advance the careers of young American world-class jazz and classical pianists.

apa logo without dropshadow

Photography by Mark Sheldon

Get to know Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist Kris Bowers


We are pleased to introduce you to KRIS BOWERS, one of the five Finalists for the American Pianists Association’s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services.

Kris Bowers_Photos

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Los Angeles.

Are you from a musical family?

Not really. In my immediate family, neither of my parents are musicians, but my little brother does play sax, and is really coming along. Outside of my immediate family, I’ve got a cousin who raps under the name Murs and is pretty well known, and an uncle that sings and used to do a lot of Broadway. But other than that, that’s pretty much it.

What attracted you to the piano/can you play any other instruments? 

My parents, although they’re not musicians, actually decided before I was born that they’d like me to play the piano. So in the beginning, it was chosen for me, but I grew to love it pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, I can’t play anything else. I’ve been trying to teach myself guitar, but it’s incredibly frustrating being new at an instrument all over again! I need to get a bit more diligent with my practicing. I pick it up from time to time, but then get frustrated and stop playing it for weeks. One of these days though…

What age were you when you started to play the piano? 

I was about 4 when my parents put me in Suzuki lessons, and then when I was around 8, I began private lessons.

Kris Bowers 2

How do you deal with the pressure and being on stage? 

I don’t get phased too often. Every now and then for solo piano shows, or some of my early shows as a band leader, I’ll get a bit anxious, but for those, I just take a few deep breaths and pace a lot backstage.

Favorite venue?

Hard to say. In New York, Jazz Standard might be my favorite.


Biggest musical influence? 

Probably Herbie Hancock. Not only has he heavily influenced my playing, I also admire how he’s excelled in other areas such as film composing, performing/creating other styles of music, and his humanitarian work.

herbie hancock

What is an ordinary day like for you?

When I’m not on tour (which is pretty rare these days), I try to get up pretty early and start my day responding to a few emails, having a good breakfast, and going on a quick run. The rest of the day is most likely spent writing music for some upcoming project and practicing.

When I’m on the road, it’s pretty much the same routine, although I rarely have the chance to practice on tour. I also usually have a handful of days of sleeping very little, followed by a day of sleeping almost an entire day away. Then that cycle repeats.

What type of music do you listen to?

A lot. These days, it’s anything from old blues stuff like Blind Willie McTell and Willie Dixon, to film scores, some old rock like Hendrix or Zeppelin, folk music like Bob Dylan, old R&B and funk like Stevie, MJ, and Earth Wind and Fire, or current artists like James Blake, Laura Mvula, Everything Everything, CHVRCHES, Chance the Rapper, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, St. Vincent, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, etc. I could go on for a while. And I’m still discovering new music every day!

Favorite restaurant(s)?

Just recently, I went to this Italian spot called Sauce in the LES for the first time. It’s definitely one my favorites now.


Favorite movie(s)?

The Godfather and Coming to America.

Favorite TV show(s)?

Breaking Bad, The Cosby Show, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Favorite color?

These days, black.

Favorite season?


Favorite vacation destination?

Sevilla, Spain

Interesting facts about yourself?

I do a bit of film composing.

I’m lactose intolerant.

Kris Bowers and the other 4 Finalists (Christian Sands, Sullivan Fortner, Emmet Cohen & Zach Lapidus) will return to Indianapolis to perform at The Jazz Kitchen for the Semi-Finals presented by Barnes & Thornburg on Friday, March 27, 2015 and at Hilbert Circle Theatre for the Finals presented by Ice Miller on Saturday, March 28, 2015.


TICKETS: 317.940.9945 |

Get to know Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist Zach Lapidus


We are pleased to introduce you to ZACH LAPIDUS, one of the five Finalists for the American Pianists Association’s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services.

Zach Lapidus Piano green tie

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Portland, OR, and grew up in Vancouver, WA until I left for college. Vancouver is a suburb of Portland that lies across both the Oregon state line and Columbia River. This dual-state relationship is fortunate, as it allows me to feel a simultaneous ownership of both grunge and Elliott Smith.


Are you from a musical family?

I was very lucky to always be surrounded by music as a child. My father was a banjo and guitar player and had a very large record collection. My mother played piano as a child, and also loved music, so there was always music around the house.


What attracted you to the piano/can you play any other instruments?

Both my parents worked a lot when I was younger, and I was lucky enough to have a baby sitter who took piano lessons. She would sometimes practice on my mother’s piano. Although we had a piano in the house, I had never seen or really heard anybody play classical piano before, and I was spellbound. I remember a Telemann minuet and “Knight Rupert” from Schumann’s Album for the Young specifically. I had a tape recorder that my grandparents had let me borrow, and I would record her playing the pieces and listen back to them a lot; I thought it was the coolest thing! I was obsessed with music as a child, and begged my parents for lessons. When I was around seven or eight, my parents thought I was old enough to begin taking lessons, and there I went.


I used to play the violin. Until I went to college, I considered it to be my main instrument; even though I still took piano lessons, I saw myself as a violinist through and through until my freshman year of college. I was drawn to the violin as it felt more collaborative than piano, at least as I knew it. I played violin in youth orchestras, in quartets, and in all manner of arrangements. I never played jazz seriously until college so I’d never really played the piano in ensembles — I never knew how much I would love it.


I also have an accordion and love to mess around on it, as I love the sound of the instrument.


What age were you when you started to play the piano?

I can’t remember exactly when I started playing the piano; I was either seven or eight. I’ve talked to my parents about this and we can’t remember the exact age. What I know for sure is that I didn’t really get serious about the piano until I was 13, and started studying classical piano with two wonderful teachers and pianists: Joanna Hodges and Jon McLaughlin. Until then, I was the type of mercurial student that drives me crazy as a teacher today!


How do you deal with the pressure and being on stage?

To deal with the pressure of being on stage, I try my best to breathe deeply, relax, and be myself. I go through different periods where it is more difficult or less difficult to be myself when I’m performing. It’s something I try to get a little better at every time I play.

Solo Recital

Favorite venue? 

My favorite venue will probably always be the Chatterbox Jazz Club on Massachusetts Ave in Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s a totally unpretentious dive bar with a great Yamaha upright, great jukebox, the most awesome crew of bartenders, and it is firmly my second home. They also have a great proprietor, David Andrichik, that tries to keep the historic building as intact and as close to its original appearance as possible. It’s a small, cramped space where I’ve witnessed some of the most amazing music I’ve ever heard. It’s long been the place to see the best jazz on a weeknight in Indianapolis. Among many other performers, the great Claude Sifferlen and Frank Glover played there at least once a week for almost twenty years, and many musicians would make pilgrimages to see their amazing duo. There are also a crowd of lovely and often eccentric regulars who come back over and over again to be around the music and their network of Chatterbox-family. I had been lucky enough to play there at least once a week (sometimes twice or three times!) for seven years when I was living in Indianapolis.


The bar used to be completely choked in smoke — most of the regulars smoked cigarettes while they drank and listened to the music, and it was a very small space, with the doors almost always closed. It was so notorious for this atmosphere that many musicians would wear separate pairs of clothes when they played there. Although it kept some people out of the bar, I loved this idiosyncrasy.  One of my amplifiers still smells like smoke, even though the bar has been smoke free since 2012! 


They mayor signed in a citywide smoking ban into effect back in 2012, and the last night you could legally smoke in a bar happened to fall on the same night as my regular trio gig. This was a very significant judgment for the Chatterbox. I ended the night with “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” and led the bar in a group lighting-up in which nearly the entire audience participated, while a few regulars sang along morosely. Stories and moments like these are why the Chatterbox will always have a wonderful place in my heart as my favorite venue.

b and w

Biggest musical influence?

I can’t single out my greatest musical influence very easily, so I’ll offer a few of the most significant ones.  I’ll begin with jazz musicians, since this is, after all, a jazz competition. To start: Thelonious Monk, for being a true, uncompromising original who grabs my attention from his first note; early Keith Jarrett, for his beautiful tone and phrasing, daring freedom, and unique aesthetic; Herbie Hancock, whose playing with Miles in the 1960’s made me want to be a jazz musician; and Abdullah Ibrahim, who plays only from the heart. Perhaps it goes without saying, because he’s so ubiquitous, but Miles Davis is one of the greatest musical influences on me: Miles Davis’ recordings put you into a mood, instantly — there’s this indescribable poetry in his music, and as cliche as it is, I know no other way to describe it than “magic.” He would not record a tune or play anything unless it had that “magic,” and in that sense he seems to me to be the perfect artist. Also, from the first time I heard him in high school, I’ve always loved Ornette Coleman — from the first moment I heard it, there was some quality that I could instantly relate to, even as someone who wasn’t really a jazz listener at the time. The first time I heard a tape of “The Shape of Jazz to Come” that my teacher let me borrow, I thought: “This is it.”


Outside of jazz: Bach, Schumann, Brahms, Takemitsu, Ravel, Francois Couperin, Stravinsky, Bartok, Morton Feldman, Nobukazu Takemura, Tim Hecker, Christian Fennesz, The Books, My Bloody Valentine, Deerhoof, the Beatles, Tortoise, Gastr del Sol, David Grubbs, Jim O’Rourke, Hella, and too many others to name!

What is an ordinary day like for you?

An ordinary day usually begins with piano practice and listening to music, and maybe if I’m lucky, a little composition. Around 3 o’clock is when the piano teaching usually begins, and then when the evening rolls around, there may (hopefully) be a gig or performance.


What type of music do you listen to?

I listen to everything. I love listening to classical music, jazz, electronic music, rock, experimental music…pretty much everything. I like to have a lot of variety in my listening, and I collect LPs voraciously. I usually go to record stores and buy anything that looks interesting, or get everything that certain trusted friends tell me to get. Jazz makes up less of my listening than most other styles of music — I like to get fresh ideas for the piano from other places.


Favorite restaurant(s)? 

I’ve just barely moved to New York so I haven’t been to enough restaurants in the city to name that many here, but I can certainly name my old haunts from Indianapolis! I love Sichuan, a Chinese restaurant in Carmel (ask for the Chinese menu!), Spice Nation, a great Indian restaurant, Yats (get the gumbo!), and Thai Taste, an awesome place that will actually make the food as spicy as you want.



Favorite movie(s)?

My favorite movie of all time is Stalker, a Russian movie by Andrei Tarkovsky; it’s brilliant and philosophical, chock full of allusions and imagery that reward additional watching, and it may be the most beautiful movie ever shot. You could freeze the screen at any point and it would be one of the most beautiful photographs ever taken. I will never tire of watching it. I also love Kurosawa’s Ran — it has an amazing soundtrack by Toru Takemitsu, as well. I also love The Seventh Seal, Vertigo, Duck Soup, Brazil, and Woody Allen’s What’s Up Tiger Lily.


Favorite TV show(s)?

My favorite TV shows of all time are Mystery Science Theater 3000, and The Wire. Nothing could possible dethrone those for me.


Favorite color?

My favorite color is green. I’m from the “evergreen state,” come on.


Favorite season?

My favorite season is Fall; great things always seem to happen to me in the fall. It’s always a time of new beginnings, and the cool air has an electricity that makes me feel inspired and energized.


Favorite vacation destination?

My favorite vacation destination is back home in Vancouver, WA. I miss my family terribly and love seeing them. Other than that, I don’t take too many vacations. Germany would be nice!


Interesting facts about yourself?

Despite the fact that I am a dog person, I am the pianist in all of internet feline sensation Lil BUB’s Big Show and her Animal Planet special.


Zach Lapidus will play the fourth concert of the American Pianists Association‘s 2014 – 2015 Jazz Fellowship Awards presented by REI Real Estate Services on Saturday, January 24 at 8 PM at The Jazz Kitchen. This concert is sponsored by Frost Brown ToddZach Lapidus Piano

And, Kris Bowers will play the final Premiere Series concert on Saturday, February 28. This concert is sponsored by The National Bank of the piano with polka dot socks

The competition doesn’t stop in February!

All 5 Finalists will return to Indianapolis to perform at The Jazz Kitchen for the Semi-Finals on Friday, March 27, 2015 and at Hilbert Circle Theatre for the Finals presented by Ice Miller on Saturday, March 28, 2015.


TICKETS: 317.940.9945 |