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Vote for Your Favorite Pianists! The 2023 Pianote Awards

Pianote  /  Musicianship  /  Feb 4, 2024

We’re excited to announce our first event of this kind: the 2023 Pianote Awards! This event brings the piano community together to celebrate talented keyboardists of all styles who are doing amazing things.

Here’s how it’ll work: on February 5-9, 2024, vote for your favorite pianist in 10 categories. Then, tune in to our YouTube channel on March 14, 2024 to hear the winners announced!

Keep reading to learn about the 10 categories, the nominees, and what makes them awesome. And remember to vote!

Learn more about how we selected these nominees.


THE 2023 PIANOTE AWARDS

Voting has now closed. Thank you for participating!
Be sure to tune in to our awards show livestream on March 14, 2024 at 8:00 PM ET. Visit our YouTube channel to tune in .

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Pianist of the Year

This top prize is awarded to a pianist or keyboardist in any genre whose achievements in 2023 went above and beyond. The Pianist of the Year is chosen for their professional achievement, exceptional artistry, technical ability, and impact on the music scene and piano community.

Jon Batiste. Man with headphones in front of colourful background.

Jon Batiste

Jon Batiste is a creative powerhouse who’s made a name as a pianist, composer, singer-songwriter, and media personality. He’s probably best known as the Academy Award-winning composer of the soundtrack to Soul (2020). In 2023, Batiste received 6x nominations for the 66th GRAMMYs, 2x nominations at the SCL (Society of Composers and Lyricists) Awards, and was featured in his own documentary American Symphony. Batiste also collaborated with artists like Lil Wayne, Kenny G, and Lana del Rey on his 2023 album World Music Radio.

Yuja Wang. Woman in dark pink dress against white background with bob hairstyle.

Yuja Wang

One of today’s top concert pianists, Yuja Wang is recognized for both her virtuosic power and iconic fashion style. In 2023, Wang’s album The American Project was nominated for a GRAMMY. She also played a marathon 4.5-hour concert of all four Rachmaninoff piano concertos plus “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini” at Carnegie Hall. Wang appeared at the BBC Proms, in a Hunger Games soundtrack, and her virtuosity was highlighted in a video by music commentator Rick Beato.

Emily Bear. Young woman in white pantsuit sitting in front of white piano.

Emily Bear

It’s not every 22-year-old who gets chosen to play piano for Queen Bey. Emily Bear captured the attention of the music industry when she became Beyoncé’s keyboardist during the Renaissance World Tour. She also composed the soundtrack behind Dog Gone (2023)— becoming the youngest person ever to compose a score for a streamed feature film—and performed at the 2023 Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards.

Lang Lang. Man in windowpane pattern suitjacket.
Photo: (C) Gregor Hohenburg (Deutsche Grammophon)

Lang Lang

World-class pianist Lang Lang is known for his virtuosity and showmanship as well as his philanthropic efforts. In 2023, Lang Lang performed at Charles III’s coronation with Nicole Scherzinger and judged the BBC talent show The Piano with Mika. He was also featured in the TV special Lang Lang Plays Disney and was shortlisted for Best Classical Artist at the 2023 Global Awards.

Jacob Collier. Man in blue tie-dye taking selfie in front of home studio filled with music instruments.

Jacob Collier

Best known for his virtuosity, originality, creativity, and live shows that engage audience participation, Jacob Collier is one of the most popular and respected musicians today. 2023 saw Collier collaborate with popular artists: “WELLLL” (with Remi Wolf), “Little Blue” (with Brandi Carlile), and “Witness Me” (with Shawn Mendes, Kirk Franklin, and Stormzy). His performance of “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” (with Erin Bentlage, Sara Gazarek, Johnaye Kendrick, and Amanda Taylor) was nominated for a GRAMMY. Collier’s influence extends beyond composition: his custom-made Strandberg 5-string guitar was featured in “WELLLL” and he even designed a pair of Crocs!


Pop Pianist of the Year

The Pop Pianist of the Year Award honors a piano or keyboard player of exceptional achievement in popular music over the past year.

Emily Bear. Young woman in white pantsuit sitting in front of white piano.

Emily Bear

A former child prodigy, 22-year-old Emily Bear captured the attention of the music industry when she became Beyoncé’s keyboardist during Queen Bey’s Renaissance World Tour. She also composed the soundtrack behind Dog Gone (2023)—becoming the youngest person ever to compose a score for a streamed feature film—and performed at the 2023 Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards.

Chloe Flower. Woman with long hair in red cloak in front of burgundy background.

Chloe Flower

Pop-classical pianist Chloe Flower first rose to fame when she performed with Cardi B at the 61st GRAMMYs. In 2023, Chloe Flower composed and performed all the commercial intros and outros, opening theme, and closing theme for the 80th Golden Globe Awards. She also graced the cover of Pianist magazine, played with Lil Baby on Saturday Night Live, and released the album Chloe Hearts Christmas.

JVKE. Portrait of man with short wavy hair in front of instagram sunset cloudy sky.

JVKE

Best known for his viral hit “Golden Hour,” JVKE’s 2023 collaborations include “Angel Pt. 1” by Kodak Black and NLE Choppa with Jimin (BTS) and Muni Long, “Fire” by Alan Walker with YUQI of (G)I-DLE, and “Strings” by MAX with Bazzi. He also released several singles in 2023, including “This is what space feels like” and a remix of NCT Dream’s “Broken Melodies.” While “Golden Hour” was first released in 2022, Variety called it “one of 2023’s biggest hits.”

Karina Depiano. Woman with long dark hair laughing and sitting in front of Fender Rhodes style keyboard.

Karina DePiano

Best known as a keyboardist for A-listers like Olivia Rodrigo, Troye Sivan, and Miley Cyrus, Karina DePiano spent 2023 playing keys for the biggest tour of all time: the Taylor Swift Eras tour. She also appeared in NIKI’s Live at the Wiltern album, where she contributed as bandleader, keyboardist, and back-up vocalist.

Woman with long hair with one arm on vertical keyboard.

Jemma Heigis

A Roland Global Artist, keys player Jemma Heigis is accomplished both online and in traditional concert venues. In 2023, she toured with Karol G and played on coveted shows like Saturday Night Live and Tiny Desk. Heigis also hit 2.1 million views on her viral Bruno Mars “Chunky” reel.


Classical Pianist of the Year

The Classical Pianist of the Year Award honors a piano or keyboard player of exceptional achievement in classical music over the past year.

Yuja Wang. Woman in dark pink dress against white background with bob hairstyle.

Yuja Wang

One of today’s most popular pianists, Yuja Wang is as beloved for her charismatic style as much as her virtuosic playing. In 2023, Wang’s album The American Project was nominated for a GRAMMY. She also played a marathon 4.5-hour concert of all four Rachmaninoff piano concertos plus “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini” at Carnegie Hall. Wang appeared at the BBC Proms, in a Hunger Games soundtrack, and her virtuosity was highlighted in a video by music commentator Rick Beato.

Older man in black leaning on grand piano.

Sir Stephen Hough

One of today’s most respected classical pianists, Sir Stephen Hough continues to make history in 2023. Last year saw Hough’s release of his memoir, Enough: Scenes from Childhood. After receiving his knighthood in 2022, he was officially knighted by King Charles III in a July 2023 ceremony. Other achievements include Hyperion releases and a Diapason d’or for his recording of Mompou: Musica Callada.

Lang Lang. Man in windowpane pattern suitjacket.
Photo: (C) Gregor Hohenburg (Deutsche Grammophon)

Lang Lang

Perhaps the world’s most famous pianist by name, classical virtuoso Lang Lang has had a busy year. He performed at Charles III’s coronation with Nicole Scherzinger and judged the BBC talent show The Piano with Mika. He was also featured in the TV special Lang Lang Plays Disney and was shortlisted for Best Classical Artist at the 2023 Global Awards.

Daniel Trifonov. Smiling man with beard in collared shirt in front of light coloured trees.

Daniil Trifonov

A highly respected and popular classical pianist, Daniil Trifonov had a busy year touring North America and Europe. He also released his 2013 Deutsche Grammophon début (recorded in Carnegie Hall) on vinyl for the first time. Furthermore, his performance of the Schumann Piano Concerto was featured by Deutsche Grammophon on World Piano Day 2023.

Alice Sara Ott. Woman with straight medium hair in blue against white background.

Alice Sara Ott

You may know Alice Sara Ott from her “Claire de lune” recording, which has 95M plays on Spotify! In 2023, this rising star was featured in the first TV ad for Apple Music Classical. She also appeared on the cover of Pianist Magazine, performed on NPR’s Tiny Desk, and released the album Beethoven.


Jazz Pianist of the Year

The Jazz Pianist of the Year Award honors a piano or keyboard player of exceptional achievement in jazz music over the past year.

HIROMI. Woman in colourful clothes in front of colourful background with wild hair.

HIROMI

HIROMI’s performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics introduced her to the world. Today, she is one of jazz’s most popular and iconic pianists. HIROMI released her album Sonicworld in 2023, created the soundtrack for the 2023 film adaptation of Blue Giant, performed at NPR’s Tiny Desk, and received lots of high-profile press.

Vijay Iyer. Black and white photo of man sitting in a wide open studio.
Photo: OGATA

Vijay Iyer

Innovative pianist-composer Vijay Iyer continued making waves last year in the jazz scene. Collaborating with Arooj Aftab and Shahzad Ismaily, the 2023 album Love in Exile was nominated for a GRAMMY in Best Alternative Jazz Album, while the track “Shadow Forces” was nominated for a GRAMMY in Best Global Music Performance. Iyer performed at Tiny Desk with his collaborators and was much discussed in music press like Stereogum, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork.

Isaiah J. Thompson. Man in glasses and denim jacket with olive toque.

Isaiah J. Thompson

Rising jazz star Isaiah J. Thompson is the winner of the 2023 American Pianists Award and received the Cole Porter Fellowship in Jazz. Thompson also released two albums in 2023: A Guaraldi Holiday, which celebrates the music of Vince Guaraldi’s work with Peanuts, and the live album The Power of the Spirit, recorded at Dizzy’s Club at the Lincoln Center. He also appeared as a sideman in John Pizzarelli’s 2023 album Stage & Screen.

Cory Henry. Portrait of man with glasses and beard.

Cory Henry

Best known for his work with jazz supergroup Snarky Puppy, Cory Henry continues a lucrative career in 2023. He performed a Stevie Wonder tribute at the BBC Proms and his 2023 album Live at the Piano was nominated for a GRAMMY in Best Alternative Jazz Album. Henry also appeared in BJ the Chicago Kid’s “Forgot Your Name” and BLK ODYSSY’s “ADAM & EVE.” Henry has mentioned that 2023 was his last year touring for a living.

DOMi Louna. Young woman with long blonde hair and pastel clothing playing keyboard in front of a mic.

DOMi Louna

Best known for her keyboard work with drummer JD Beck, DOMi & JD BECK is a duo widely regarded as the future of jazz. The group started the year with a bang as a Spotify Best New Artist of 2023. They then went on a whirlwind tour across North America, Asia, and Europe. DOMi & JD Beck also played Coachella and you can catch their remix of “Big Man, Little Dignity” on Paramore’s 2023 album Re: This Is Why.


Contemporary Pianist of the Year

The Contemporary Pianist of the Year Award honors a pianist or keyboardist’s exceptional achievement in the past year in modern, alternative music styles such as neoclassical, fusion, avant-garde, experimental, and progressive.

Joe Hisaishi. Older man in black with head in hand in front of marbled blue background.
Photo: Omar Cruz

Joe Hisaishi

Best known for his work with legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, Hisaishi’s music has been beloved for decades. 2023 saw the release of what is likely Miyazaki’s final film, The Boy and the Heron, of which Hisaishi’s soundtrack was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an SCL (Society of Composers & Lyricists) Award. Hisaishi also released Brahms: Complete Symphonies and Studio Ghibli compilations like A Symphonic Celebration. Furthermore, Hisaishi received the Order of the Rising Sun from the government of Japan.

Jordan Rudess. Older man with white goatee in black in front of red background.

Jordan Rudess

Renowned for his virtuosic work with Dream Theater, Jordan Rudess continues to be one of today’s most revered keyboardists. Rudess’ 2023 collaborations include “Still Woven” with Quartarone and “Incarnation,” an original composition he produced with Mahesh Raghvan and featuring Mohini Dey, Elijah Wood, and B. C. Manjunath. He was also featured in Bradley Hall’s “Thrash Grandad.” Prolific in the world of music tech, Rudess collaborated with Drukowski Guitars to create the Wizard’s Axe and was, of course, present at NAMM 2023.

Alexis Ffrench. Man in glasses, fedora, and red suit.

Alexis Ffrench

You may know Alexis Ffrench from his 2018 piano hit “Bluebird” and as the 2022-present host of Apple Music Radio’s first classical show, where he composes 60-second sonatas based on listener stories. Best known for his classical-soul crossover style, Ffrench performed at King Charles III’s coronation ceremony in 2023. He also released an album (Christmas Piano) and an EP (Peace) last year.

Ludovico Einaudi. Older man in white fedora in front of painting with two fish.

Ludovico Einaudi

Neoclassical composer Ludovico Einaudi is a classical gateway for many, having become the most streamed classical artist ever. Einaudi won the 2023 Global Award for Best Classical Artist and his musical output last year includes a compilation album (Undiscovered Vol. 2) and the soundtrack for La Petite. He also worked with Thrive Conservation on the documentary Broken Wings and collaborated with Greenpeace to petition against deep sea mining.

Anomalie. Young man in white shirt in darkly lit background.

Anomalie

Creative keyboard virtuoso Anomalie is quickly becoming an exciting voice in the keyboardist-producer scene. His 2022 album Galerie was named ADISQ Album of the Year – Jazz in 2023. The project of Montreal-based classically-trained pianist Nicolas Dupuis, Anomalie also performed two Asia tours, taught at Cory Wong’s Syncopated Summer Camp, and released his EP Holidays.


Instagram Pianist of the Year

The Instagram Pianist of the Year Award recognizes a piano or keyboard Instagrammer of exceptional achievement in the past year.

Justin Lee Schultz. Teenage boy with dark curly hair playing keyboard in front of a mic and wearing turquoise hoodie.

Justin Lee Schultz (@official_justinleeschultz)

Multi-instrumentalist Justin Lee Schultz, 16, enjoyed a very busy year! He performed at NAMM 2023, played with the Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour, appeared in the JAZZIZ Editors’ Choice weekly column, was invited to join the Recording Academy (GRAMMYs) 2023 New Member Class, and released an album: Just In the Moment.

Alfredo Rodriguez. Man in sunglasses, pink shirt, and blue speckled suit jacket leaning against a tree in a tropical setting.

Alfredo Rodriguez (@alfredormusic)

A regular Instagrammer, Alfredo Rodriguez is a jazz fusion powerhouse with influences ranging from his original home in Cuba to his adopted one in America. 2023 saw Rodriguez play an international tour, perform at NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas, and release the album Coral Way.

Tony Ann. Young man with glasses leaning arm against polished surface in white sweater.

Tony Ann (@tonyannnn)

One of social media’s most popular pianist-composers, Tony Ann made the news in 2017 when his virality scored him a tour with the Chainsmokers. Today, he’s going strong with 2.6M Instagram followers and 2.3M TikTok followers. Ann’s social media hits in 2023 include mash-ups, remixes, and creatively shot videos that get upwards of millions of views per reel. Ann also released three collabs and four EPs and played his first headline show in Paris last year.

Lola Astanova. Woman with long dark hair in red pantsuit against red background.

Lola Astanova (@lolaastanova)

Pianist-composer Lola Astanova has over 1.3M Instagram followers. Her 2023 highlights include a performance at the WTA Makarska Open, where she filmed a breathtaking music video in the Biokovo mountain range. Astanova also went on tour and released the majestic piece “Invictus.”


TikTok Pianist of the Year

The TikTok Pianist of the Year Award recognizes a piano or keyboard TikToker of exceptional achievement in the past year.

Aylex Thunder. Artsy black and white photo of man in suit.

Aylex Thunder (@aylexthunder)

With 3.9M followers, Aylex Thunder is a favorite among TikTok’s piano lovers. His 2023 highlights include several uploads with more than a million views, a collaboration with Lord Vinheteiro, and a mansion performance that went viral and made the news. Thunder also partnered with Thrive Refuge to help a teen pianist leave the war in Ukraine and study in British Columbia.

Van Toan Lam. Portrait of man laughing against white background.

Van Toan Lam (@vantoan___)

Van Toan Lam is one of the internet’s biggest pianists with 10.3M followers on TikTok. Lam regularly posts public piano performances that gain tens of millions of views. Last year, he streamed himself playing on top of a mountain in France and collaborated with keyboard sensation Ethan Bortnick and Maltese singer Yulan Law.

Man in puffy black jacket standing in front of water.

Alex Doremifa (@alex_doremifa)

Alex Doremifa has 1.7M followers and was remarkably successful on TikTok last year. A creator of public piano shorts, mash-ups, and performances with other musicians, his collaborative Interstellar video received 30M views and his “Solas” video netted a whopping 105.3M views in 2023!

Margarita Sipatova (@grette_)

Margarita Sipatova has just under a million followers on TikTok. A classically trained pianist who performs covers and livestreams, the production value of her videos is uniquely high for a fast-paced social media platform. A consistent and prolific uploader, Sipatova had several million+ view videos in 2023. She is also an opera singer!

Andy Morris (@andy_morris)

Andy Morris’ wins in 2023 include a Genshin Impact video that earned more than 70M views, a “Golden Hour” video with more than 80M views, and a flashmob-style collaboration at Comic Con. To cap it all off, Morris was also a contestant on America’s Got Talent!


YouTube Pianist of the Year

The YouTube Pianist of the Year Award recognizes a piano or keyboard YouTuber of exceptional achievement in the past year.

Nahre Sol

Composer-pianist Nahre Sol’s deep dive analysis videos are a favorite among music enthusiasts on YouTube. In 2023, Sol became the first Creator in Residence at the Elbphilharmonie for the 2023-24 season. She also premiered a new composition at the West End Micro Music Festival, released the single “Swan Song,” and published a theory book (Nahre Sol’s Elements of Music). Her 2023 video, “How I wish HARMONY was explained to me as a student” has earned over a million views.

Lord Vinheteiro

With over 7.1M subscribers, Lord V is one of the internet’s most famous pianists and musical comedians. He is “the biggest piano related YouTube channel in the world” (Wikitubia) and his channel reached 1 billion views in 2023. He also collaborated with TikTok pianist Aylex Thunder and appeared on a Times Square billboard.

Brendan Kavanagh

Brendan Kavanagh is a popular boogie-woogie pianist with over 2M subscribers on YouTube. Known for his performances on public pianos and jamming with folks he meets, he made the news last year when others tried to shut his performance down. Kavanagh’s 2023 highlights include a collaboration with Swiss musician Ladyva which gained over 11M views and “Baby Hears Boogie Woogie Piano For The First Time,” which got over 7M views.

Peter Bence

The energetic Peter Bence regularly posts high-production-value covers and performances to his 1.14M subscribers. Blurring the line between pop and classical, Bence was once named the “Fastest Piano Player” by the Guinness Book of World Records. 2023 was a great year for Bence: he released the album Pianosphere, went on tour, and made his solo debut in the U.K.

Charles Cornell

One of YouTube’s most popular music educators, pianist Charles Cornell boasts 1.58M YouTube subscribers on his channel, where he posts detailed music analysis videos. 2023 was a prolific year for Cornell with regular uploads, including “The Most Beautiful Song EVER Written For Film,” which earned more than 2M views. Cornell also released a cover of “Clocks” on Spotify.


Original Composition of the Year

The Original Composition of the Year Award recognizes exceptional artistry, creativity, and impact of a piano or keyboard-focused work of any genre from the past year. We hope you find your next favorite song among these selections!

Photo: Omar Cruz

“The Last Smile” by Joe Hisaishi (from The Boy and the Heron)

Listen to the Song

Perhaps Miyazaki’s last film, the soundtrack for Studio Ghibli’s The Boy and the Heron has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an SCL (Society of Composers & Lyricists) Award. The film’s main theme, “The Last Smile,” is a classic Hisaishi track with its gentle piano, lyrical melody, and nostalgic atmosphere.

“The hills” by Alexandra Stréliski

Listen to the Song

Alexandra Stréliski’s emotive piece “The hills” was inspired by the loss of a loved one. This popular piece gained 7M plays on Spotify and the album from which it comes, Néo-Romance, was longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize.

“Idea 9” by Gibran Alcocer

Listen to the Song

Best known for the viral TikTok hit “Solas,” 20-year-old Gibran Alcocer is a popular up-and-coming composer of peaceful solo piano pieces. “Idea 9” was his most popular track from 2023, clocking 9M plays on Spotify.

“Meditation 111” by RIOPY

Listen to the Song

“Meditation 111” was commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation for Mental Health Awareness Week. Designed to improve wellness, the entire piece can be played with just three fingers and learned in one hour, making it accessible to everyone. The composer, RIOPY, is a neoclassical composer who is open and vocal about his traumatic past.

“Butterfly” by Jon Batiste

Listen to the Song

Jon Batiste’s piano-driven “Butterfly” has been nominated for a GRAMMY Song of the Year award. World Music Radio, which carries the track, was also nominated for a GRAMMY as Album of the Year. “Butterfly” is featured in Batiste’s 2023 biographical documentary American Symphony.


Most Inspiring Pianist of the Year

The Most Inspiring Pianist of the Year award celebrates a piano or keyboard artist whose social impact in service of the piano community was particularly inspiring last year. They embody our vision for a vibrant pianist community and they may break barriers and bring pianism to mainstream attention.

Girl in red dress playing piano next to teacher and background in black and white.

Lucy

Teen pianist Lucy has had an extraordinary year. Blind and neurodivergent, Lucy captured hearts worldwide when she was featured on the BBC program The Piano. She later performed at King Charles III’s coronation alongside musicians like Alexis Ffrench and Katy Perry. Furthermore, Lucy performed on World Piano Day and became an ambassador for the Lang Lang International Music Foundation.

Miki Sawada

Pianist Miki Sawada has been touring since 2017 across 50 states with a piano and a van. Called “Gather Hear,” the tour brings music to communities that may not have access to environments like traditional concert halls. Last year, Sawada toured Alabama and her documentary about her tour in Louisiana premiered at Independent Film Festival Boston.

Helen Martyniuk

Helen Martyniuk’s song “Bee Theme” went viral in 2023 and was featured on the BBC. Martyniuk is a young Ukrainian pianist who moved to the U.K. during the war. Last year, Sherwood Pianos also featured her original arrangement of the Ukrainian national album on the 1-year anniversary of the war. Active on social media, Martyniuk’s “Bee Theme” has even been arranged for orchestra.

Jude Kofie (“Jude Keyz”)

12-year-old Jude Kofie made a huge splash in 2023. Autistic and born with a heart defect, Kofie’s talent went viral when a piano tuner, impressed by his self-taught piano skills, gifted him a free piano. Then, Kofie was featured on The Kelly Clarkson Show and was gifted a mentorship with Jason Halbert—Kelly Clarkson’s music director and an autistic individual himself. Kofie has since received a lot of press and was given the Heroes Award at HollyRod Foundation’s DesignCare Gala.


How We Chose Our Shortlisted Nominees

We chose nominees by asking our online community and researching artists with major achievements in 2023. This includes collaboration with big names, touring, press, awards and award nominations, album releases, and overall impact and inspiration. But at the end of the day, we looked for people who got us excited about playing the keys.

Since this is our first-ever Pianote Awards, we welcome your feedback for future events! Just fill out this form.

THANKS FOR VOTING!

Remember to tune in to the 2023 Pianote Awards Show on March 14!


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