American pianist Orion Weiss is the winner of Bay Chamber Concerts’ 2019 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. The honor adds to a distinguished career that already includes an Avery Fisher Career Grant, a Gilmore Young Artist Award, the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at the Juilliard School and the Mieczyslaw Munz Scholarship.

Weiss appears regularly at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and at chamber music festivals around the country and the world including La Jolla, Chamber Music Northwest, Music@Menlo, Bard Music Festival, Bravo! Vail, Aspen, Mostly Mozart and Mainly Mozart Music Festivals, Hong Kong Chamber Music Festival, Lucerne, Santa Fe, St. Petersburg’s White Nights Festival and at the Tippet Rise Arts Center. He also is a founding member of the new music chamber ensemble, Third Sound.

The $25,000 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award recognizes a pianist under the age of 40 who has made a serious commitment and contribution to the world of chamber music.  Two previous recipients of the award, Wu Han, co-director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; and Anne-Marie McDermott, artistic director of the Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado, serve on the committee that selected Weiss. Other previous award recipients include pianists Jeremy Denk, Jonathan Biss, Christopher O’Riley, Inon Barnatan, Alessio Bax, Gilles Vonsattel and Anna Polonsky.

Established in 1986, the award honors the memory of Andrew Wolf, a leading chamber music pianist, who died in 1985 at age 42. Wolf collaborated with many distinguished musicians during his short career and he established a specialty in chamber music. As a teenager, he co-founded Bay Chamber Concerts with the idea of giving talented young musicians an opportunity to perform with some of the world’s great artists. Today, Bay Chamber Concerts continues its tradition of discovering, supporting and encouraging extraordinary young musicians.

The selection process for the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award is kept confidential to honor Wolf’s concern that performers should not be stigmatized by competing and not winning competitions. He believed that many individual approaches to a given piece of music may be compelling and that no one performance is necessarily best. Nominations for the award, which come from leaders in the world of chamber music, are not made public. In the final round to determine the winner, judges attend live performances anonymously to hear the finalists play.

In announcing the winner of the 2019 prize, the Manuel Bagorro, The Thomas Wolf Artistic Director Chair for Bay Chamber, praised Weiss.

“Orion has a rare combination of gifts. This includes a wonderful technique and superb musicianship, of course. But it also includes that rare ability to show unique musical personality while at the same time supporting and encouraging the voices of others in a chamber music ensemble,” he said.

In addition to Bagorro, Wu and McDermott, other members of the Award Committee include Christopher Costanza, (cellist, Saint Lawrence String Quartet); Roberto Diaz (president, Curtis Institute of Music); Anne Epperson, pianist; Ida Kavafian, violinist; Robert McDonald, pianist; Michael Reynolds, (cellist, Muir String Quartet); David Shiffrin (artistic director, Chamber Music Northwest); and Thomas Wolf, brother of the late Andrew Wolf.

Weiss will appear in several concerts as part of Bay Chamber Concerts’ Summer Music Festival. The full season announcement will be made in late March. For more information on Bay Chamber Concerts programming, call 236-2823 or visit baychamberconcerts.org.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.