Guest Adjudicators

Live Performance Round

Amit Peled, cello

Praised by The Strad magazine and The New York Times, internationally renowned cellist Amit Peled is acclaimed as one of the most exciting and virtuosic instrumentalists on the concert stage today. Having performed in many of the world’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., Salle Gaveau in Paris, Wigmore Hall in London, and the Konzerthaus Berlin, Peled has released over a dozen recordings on the Naxos, Centaur, Delos, and CTM Classics labels. Musical America named Peled one of the Top 30 Influencers of 2015.

Recent career highlights include Bach Suite cycles in the United States, Europe, and Israel; performances of the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto at the Kennedy Center; a debut collaboration with the Peabody Chamber Orchestra led by Maestra Marin Alsop; a return to the Ravinia Festival in celebration of Peled’s recording of the Brahms Cello Sonatas on the Goffriller cello (1733) once owned by the legendary cellist Pablo Casals; a return visit as a soloist to the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico; performances of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto and Penderecki’s Second Cello Concerto conducted by the legendary Krzysztof Penderecki himself; Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata recorded on the Casals cello; and a worldwide musical celebration of Beethoven’s Sonatas for Cello and Piano to commemorate the composer’s 250th anniversary.

An enthusiastic chamber music artist, Peled is a member of the acclaimed Tempest Trio with violinist Ilya Kaler and pianist Alon Goldstein. Peled also performs with Goldstein and clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein as a member of the Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio.

One of the most sought-after cello professors in the world, Peled is a professor at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University where he has taught since 2003 and was one of the youngest professors ever hired by a major conservatory. He has instructed students who have gone on to garner top prizes at international competitions such as the Carlos Prieto International Competition in Mexico, the Schoenefeld International Competition in China, and Young Concert Artists Guild in New York. Embracing the new era of the pandemic, Peled recently established the Amit Peled Online Cello Academy in order to reach cellists all over the world with private lessons and in-depth courses on his First Hour technique method.

Passing on the tradition in which he performed with his mentors Bernard Greenhouse and Boris Pergamenschikow, Peled regularly performs with the Amit Peled Cello Gang. Composed of students from Peled’s studio at the Peabody Institute, members of the Cello Gang range in age from undergraduate freshmen to second year master’s students. Peled and the Cello Gang tour regularly around the country with recent performances at the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, the Society of Four Arts in Palm Beach, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, as a resident ensemble in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and all across Maryland, the gang’s home state. Peled is also the founder, conductor, and artistic director of the Mount Vernon Virtuosi, a chamber orchestra dedicated to nurturing the careers of recently graduated music students, which annually performs a four-program season in Baltimore, Silver Spring, and Rockville, Maryland.

Raised on a kibbutz in Israel, Amit Peled began playing the cello at age 10. From 2012 through 2018, Peled performed on the Pablo Casals 1733 Goffriller cello, which was loaned to him personally by Casals’ widow, Marta Casals Istomin.

Amit Peled is represented worldwide by CTM Classics.

Sergiu Schwartz, violin

Sergiu Schwartz’s international concert appearances have taken him to major music centers on four continents, including twenty European countries, Israel, Asia, Canada, and over forty U. S. states, as soloist with orchestras, in recitals and chamber music concerts. “Following in the footsteps of his fellow countrymen Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman, he is a product of the best of European romantic interpretative style and 20th-Century American technical acuity,” states New York’s Newsday, while Le Soleil (Canada) notes that “he stands out as one of the best violinists of his generation.” Comparing him to the greatest violinists, Fanfare – The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors, writes: his “warmth of sound and insight into the music raise to the level of expression achieved by Oistrakh” and his “tonal sheen approaches Milstein’s… for those who lament the passing of the great violinists of the middle of the last century, Schwartz’s collection should provide a great sense of optimism that a younger violinist still commands such assured rhetoric and expressive resources. Heifetz, Milstein, Oistrakh, Isaac Stern, Francescatti – they all come to mind.”

Sergiu Schwartz is a frequent guest at music festivals in the United States, Israel, Switzerland, Finland, England, France, Holland, Romania, Bulgaria and China, and serves on the artist faculty of the Bowdoin (Maine), Summit (New York) and Keshet Eilon (Israel) international summer music festivals. Mr. Schwartz has been featured in broadcasts for radio and TV stations, including NPR, CNN, WXEL-TV’s “Great Performances,” and the BBC. His honors include prizes in international violin competitions in the United States and Europe, as well as awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts.

Mr. Schwartz made his recording debut with the London Symphony Orchestra with an “all Scandinavian” compact disc released on Vox Unique (reissued on Vox Allegretto and ArkivCD), featuring music by Sibelius, Svendsen, and Grieg. His discography, released to exceptional critical acclaim, includes on Romeo Records – Romantic Treasures, The Heart of the Violin and Poème Mystique – and on Gega, – The Romantic Violin. His American Classics release on Naxos features works by American composer John Alden Carpenter; and his CD on Arcobaleno showcases works for violin and harp by Ludwig Spohr.

Sergiu Schwartz studied with Rami Shevelov at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he also gained exposure to artists such as Isaac Stern and Yehudi Menuhin during master classes at Jerusalem Music Center. He continued his studies, under a British Council grant, with Yfrah Neaman at the Guildhall School in London, and, with Dorothy DeLay, at the Juilliard School in New York, through scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and the Juilliard School. His musical growth has been further enhanced by violinists Sandor Vegh and Felix Galimir, pianist Leon Fleisher, and legendary conductor Sergiu Celibidache.

Mr. Schwartz combines his performing career with his position as Professor holding The William B. and Sue Marie Turner Distinguished Chair in Violin at the Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University, and as Visiting Professor at Haute Ecole de Musique et Conservatoire de Lausanne in Switzerland.  Prof. Schwartz is the recipient of the 2013 Columbus State University Teaching Excellence Award and a nominee for the University System of Georgia Teaching Excellence Award.  He regularly conducts master classes and lectures at music schools, colleges, and universities in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Israel, including USC, UCLA, Colburn School, San Francisco Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, Boston University, Jerusalem Academy of Music, Reina Sofia Academy (Madrid), Royal Academy of Music (London), University of Music and Performing Arts Graz (Austria), Conservatoire de Lausanne (Switzerland), Mount Royal College (Calgary, Canada), Shanghai and Beijing conservatories (China), Seoul’s Korea National University of the Arts and Busan University (Korea), Novosibirsk State Conservatoire (Russia), as well as master courses in Israel, Switzerland, Finland, France, Italy, Holland, Bosnia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Puerto Rico.

He also serves as a juror in major international competitions, including Tchaikovsky, Sarasate, Wieniawski, Michael Hill, Mozart, Oistrakh, Postacchini, Szeryng, Novosibirsk, as well as Canadian National, Sphinx, Stulberg, Blount-Slawson, Washington International, and others. His students have been top prizewinners in prestigious international violin competitions, including Seoul (Korea), Sendai (Japan), Paganini (Italy and Russia), Sarasate (Spain), Szeryng (Mexico), Oistrakh (Ukraine); Lipizer (Italy), Prix d’Europe and Canadian National (Canada), Sphinx and Blount-Slawson (US); as well as Carmel, Coleman (CA) and Evian (France) chamber music competitions.

Recorded Performance Round

Qiao Chen Solomon, violin

Hailing from China, Qiao Chen Solomon started playing violin at the age of 8 and later pursued the studies of viola, voice, piano, and conducting. Dr. Solomon performs as soloist, conductor, chamber musician, and orchestra player throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. Past performance highlights include a solo performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the UGA Symphony Orchestra and a solo performance of Harvest Celebration at the Grumo Festival in Italy.

She has also performed at Carnegie Hall with the ARCO chamber orchestra, and with the same group she has performed and recorded Vivaldi’s Violin Concertos on the Art Classics Label as a featured soloist.

Dr. Solomon has recorded Pulsar by Augusta Read Thomas and the Sonata for Viola and Piano by Rebecca Clark on a double CD collection of works by women composers commissioned by the National Council of Women of the United States. She was a prize-winner in the National Music Talent Competition in Guangzhou, which includes five different sub-competitions: violin, voice, piano, conducting, and a music theory/history comprehensive exam.

She has also won awards at the 5th Liaoning Violin Competition (China), the West Waterford Music and Drama Festival (Ireland), and the MTNA Competition (United States).


Martin Gueorguiev, cello

Dr. Martin Gueorguiev has performed as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player throughout Europe and the United States. As a founding member of the Balkan Quartet, Dr. Gueorguiev has appeared with the quartet at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage Series in Washington, DC, the Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, SC and at the Arts Club in Washington, DC.

The Balkan Quartet has performed on numerous campuses throughout the Southeastern US, including the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Francis Marion University (SC), Shorter College (GA), North Carolina State University and Georgia State University. Dr. Gueorguiev’s solo performances in the Atlanta area have included the Haydn D Major Cello Concerto with the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the UGA Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Gueorguiev has also participated in numerous chamber music festivals such as the Sarasota Music Festival, Musicorda Music Festival, South Carolina Chamber Music Festival, Hot Springs Music Festival and the Perlman Music Program Chamber Workshop where he worked intensively with Itzhak Perlman, Donald Weilerstein and Paul Katz.

Currently, Dr. Gueorguiev teaches cello at Oxford College of Emory University. Previously, he has taught at Georgia Southern University and Georgia Perimeter College. Dr. Gueorguiev holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Georgia, as well as a Master Degree in Music Performance from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelor Degree in Music Performance from Lynn University (formerly the Harid Conservatory). Dr. Gueorguiev serves as an Artist-Affiliate and teaches cello at Oxford College of Emory University, and at Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta, GA.