Meet This Year's Judges

For its inaugural competition, Classicalia online classical music competition has assembled an all-star, international roster of judges to pool their expertise and find the 12 musicians who will win a trip-of-a-lifetime to Vienna to perform at the prestigious Grand Saal of the Vienna Konzerthaus.  

Read about our esteemed judges and their specialties below.


Jura Margulis

Jura Margulis is a third-generation pianist and pedagogue. Born in Russia and raised in Germany, he studied with his father, Professor Vitaly Margulis, at the Musikhochschule Freiburg, at the Fondazione per Il Pianoforte in Cadenabbia on Lake Como in Italy, and with Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Internationally acclaimed as a multifaceted concert and recording artist, Margulis is praised for his “absolute authority”, “controlled obsession” (Fono Forum), “impulsive and contemplative aesthetics” (FAZ), and “effortless spontaneity” (Washington Post).

Margulis has recorded numerous albums of repertoire spanning from Bach to Berg and more than 50 titles from his recordings can be found on iTunes. He is the Artistic Director of the Fulbright Concerto Competition, an international piano contest in the USA, and the executive director of the International Piano Academy Freiburg, a summer masterclass and piano festival in Germany. In 2018, Margulis was appointed Professor of Piano at the Music and Art University in Vienna.



Vera Tsu Weiling

Vera Tsu Weiling is a renowned violinist and educator. Decorated with Master’s degrees from both Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music, she is currently a professor and Master’s program advisor at Shanghai Conservatory of Music, co-chair of the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition, and chair of the violin jury of the International Music Competition Harbin.

In high demand as a juror for worldwide competitions including the Queen Elisabeth Competition of Belgium, International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition, Menuhin Competition, Pablo Sarasate International Violin Competition, and the remarkable XV International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Tsu Weiling is a passionate educator. As a soloist, she has performed with WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, the Charleston Symphony, the London Chamber Players the Budapest Radio Orchestra, the Slovak Radio Orchestra, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the China National Symphony Orchestra, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, the China Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.



István Kohán

Tokyo-based Hungarian clarinetist István Kohán launched his career with a first-prize win in Japan’s Tokyo Music Competition in 2013. In quick succession in 2015 he cemented his value with three first prizes the 84th Japanese Music Competition, the Japan Woodwind Competition, and the Akiyoshidai Music Competition, where he was also awarded Grand Prix. Recognized as “the new hero of the clarinet world” by The Clarinet Magazine, Kohán continues to win performance prizes, including the Aoyama Music Award in 2017. He has performed with orchestras in Japan including the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo under the baton Antonio Méndez, Kazuki Sawa, Toshiaki Umeda, Masahiko Enkoji, and Shigeo Genda.

When not performing, he teaches at Tokyo College of Music and composes. With a firm grounding in klezmer from his father, also an outstanding musician, Kohán is a natural improvisor, and in addition to standard classical repertoire, performs his own compositions and arrangements inspired by Hungarian folk music.
Kohán is a Yamaha Artist.



Peter Bence

Peter Bence is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso pianist, recording artist, composer and producer. He has taken the internet by storm with his piano arrangements of Michael Jackson, Queen, and Sia collecting more than 800 million video views with his edgy, percussive, and expressive cross-over style.

In January, 2012 he captured the Guinness World Record for the “most piano key hits in one minute” with 765 key strokes, and with this lightning speed, has redefined the boundaries of the instrument for live audiences throughout four continents and 40 countries. Bence opened BBC’s Proms In The Park 2017 in Hyde Park, London for 50,000 people, and his performances have gone viral on sites including the Ellen DeGeneres Show, BBC, Buzzfeed, 9GAG, Classic FM, iHeart Radio, and Billboard. This 29 year-old started playing music by ear on his grandparents’ piano at age two, and started serious Classical study at age four. He has just released his first PBS full-length feature called “Around the World with Peter Bence” (check local listings for broadcast times).



Michael Gruber

Born in Vienna, Michael Gruber is an Artist Manager and CEO of Austria’s largest and leading international opera agency, with clients in North America and many European countries. His connections in the opera industry have led him to several important posts as Artistic Consultant.

He represented Germany’s Theater Freiburg for five seasons as its external casting director, and served as Artistic Consultant for the Latvian National Opera, the Bartók Plus Opera Festival in Miskolc, Hungary, and the Lviv MozArt Festival in Lviv, Ukraine.

Gruber has been invited to join the juries of singing competitions including the József Simándy Singing Competition in Szeged, Hungary, and the Concorso Salvatore Licitra in Milan, Italy.