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Judges & Members
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Krisztián Oláh

Young as he is, pianist Krisztián Oláh is a key figure in the Hungarian jazz scene. Born into a Hungarian musician family, his father Kálmán Oláh - a world-renowned jazz pianist and composer - took responsibility for his early education in jazz piano and composition. Krisztián described his early inspirations: “It has hardly been twenty years since I began exploring and roaming across the vast complex universe of music. I must be extremely lucky to be surrounded by an immense amount of inspiration. Primarily it is my family, my mother, and father who have always believed in my potential and encouraged and supported me. They introduced me to the world of classical music and jazz which - I believe - are the most complex genres of music.”

Krisztián graduated from the Bela Bartok Conservatory with a major in classical piano and currently attends the jazz piano department of the Franz Liszt University of Music and Musicology under the instruction of Professor Karoly Binder.

He was chosen as the best soloist at the 5th Jazz Competition of Marosvásárhely in April 2013. He was selected as one of the top four pianists in the Nottingham Solo Piano Competition in 2014. He was granted the special award for the most creative performance at the International Piano competition in Vilnius, Lithuania. He was only twenty when he finished third at the 2015 Montreux Jazz Festival. During the two-week academic program that followed, he appeared in concert with such greats as Al Jarreau, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Nils Petter Molvær, and Joe Sanders. In the same year, he was awarded the Creative Art Prize, the Junior Prima Prize, and the Hungarian Jazz Prize of Gramofon Magazine. In 2016, the Hungarian Jazz Federation elected him young jazz musician of the year, and in 2018 he was the first Hungarian to be invited to the international competition organized by the American Thelonious Monk Institute for the world’s best fourteen jazz pianists.

He spent a long time contemplating recording his first album, one that would consist solely of his compositions, and in January of 2019, the moment arrived when he founded his Quartet with top Hungarian musicians. He presented thoroughly modern material from the result of this project: "At The Back Of My Mind." The music of "At The Back Of My Mind" grew out of his U.S. experiences from the period of preparing for and participating in the Monk competition. Breaking through to the surface in compositions whose mature sound belies his youth and via the expressive means of jazz are all the musical inspirations that allude to the legacy of European classical music from the past centuries. Thanks to the wonderful improvisational skills of his companions, Kálmán Oláh, György Orbán, and Dániel Serei, the audience can look forward to plenty of extemporization.

His other recent project, "Parallel Reflections," offers a contemporary reinterpretation or recontextualization of the interplay of a string orchestra and a jazz quartet. The six-movement suite - composed and arranged by Krisztián - is informed by neo-romantic and 20th-century classical music, as well as by the harmonics and rhythms of modern jazz.

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