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




Author: americanpianistsassociation

The mission of the American Pianists Association is to discover, promote and advance the careers of young, American jazz and classical pianists.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s