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 13 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.


Classicalia JuryJura Margulis

Jura Margulis, has been internationally  recognized for his compelling and communicative performances, for the range of his expressive vision, and for his consummate virtuosity. Reviewers have praised the “absolute authority” of his interpretations and the sense of “controlled obsession” he transmits at the keyboard (Fono Forum). Drehpunkt Kultur in Salzburg wrote: "After the performance one fleetingly thinks of the pianists that became legends, but comparisons are impermissible. Margulis is a master sui generis (of his own kind)."

Margulis recorded 12 acclaimed CDs for Sony, Ars Musici, and Oehms Classics, covering a wide spectrum of repertoire from Bach to Berg including his own transcriptions over 50 titles from his CDs can be found on iTunes. In the past decade he performed, held masterclasses, and adjudicated international competitions in over 15 countries.

In 2012 he developed a significant modification for the modern grand piano with Steingraeber & Söhne in Bayreuth. In 2018 Margulis was appointed Professor of Piano at the Musik and Art University in Vienna. In 2019 EmanoBooks, Switzerland, published his book “Pianist to Pianist”.


Classicalia Jury Chen Xi Chen Xi

Hailed by Strad magazine as “a very bright musician with strong individuality,” Chinese violinist Chen Xi became the youngest top prize winner in the International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition at 17 years old when he won in 2002. A child protégé, he has won many international competitions, including the Eighth Lipinski-Wieniawski International Violin Competition in Poland in 2000 and the Ninth National Youth Violin Competition of China in 2001.

Chen Xi received his diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music, and a Master’s degree from Yale University. He currently serves as a faculty member of the China Central Conservatory of Music.

He has performed with China Philharmonic Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Sejong Soloists, KBS Symphony Orchestra, Iceland Chamber Orchestra, Bangor Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Orchestra. Concert stage highlights include Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Zankel Hall of Carnegie Hall in New York, and Auditorium du Louvre in Paris.


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 950 million video views and a huge following on YouTube and Facebook with his edgy, percussive, and expressive cross-over style that turns the instrument into a full orchestra.

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 has performed sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House, Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul, Stadthalle in Vienna, Victoria Hall in Geneva and Crocus City Hall in Moscow.

He started playing music by ear on his grandparents’ piano at age two, and started serious Classical study at age four, culminating at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He released his first PBS full-length feature called “Around the World with Peter Bence” (check local listings for broadcast times) and in 2020 his album The Awesome Piano debuted on the Steinway & Sons label, charting #1 on iTunes in multiple countries, and #11 on worldwide Billboard charts.



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.