BMI Awards $10K Monk Prize to Jazz Pianist Kálmán Oláh

Posted in News on September 18, 2006
Congratulations to jazz pianist Kálmán Oláh, grand prize winner of the 2006 BMI-sponsored Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composer's Competition. The $10,000 award was presented during the Thelonious Monk Institute's 20th Anniversary Gala held Sept. 20 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Oláh's winning work, performed by a group of jazz all-stars during the celebration, was entitled "Always." Listen to the the winning song, "Always"

For the past 13 years, BMI has sponsored the Composer's Competition, which awards $10,000 to the young composer who best demonstrates originality, creativity and excellence in jazz composition. This year's judges included three members of the BMI family: Jim McNeely and Michael Abene, musical directors of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, and clarinet player Don Byron.

BMI's Robbin Ahrold and Phil Graham, grand prize winner Kálmán Oláh, and TS Monk, Jr.

Born in 1970 in Budapest, Hungary, Kálmán Oláh began playing classical piano at the age of seven and started studying jazz piano at age 14. Greatly influenced by his grand-uncle, a Hungarian jazz pianist who was also one of his teachers, he continued playing jazz and began composing at the age of 17. Oláh attended the Béla Bartok Conservatory and completed his musical studies at the Franz Liszt Music University. In 1990, he established Trio Midnight, which launched his career in jazz. Since then, he has performed at festivals and concerts throughout the world.

Former BMI/Monk Jazz Composer's Competition winner Jackie Terrason (l), who performed "Always," congratulates 2006 winner Kálmán Oláh

Over the past decade, Oláh has recorded and performed compositions that fuse jazz and contemporary classical music with Hungarian folk music. Renowned for his distinctive compositional style and his original approach to playing jazz, Oláh has played and recorded with a number of well-known artists, including Lee Konitz, Randy Brecker, Pat Metheny, Steve Grossman, Jack DeJohnette, John Patitucci and Kenny Wheeler. He has recorded 10 albums in a variety of settings, including trio with strings, solo with chamber orchestra, and piano and bass duets, along with his rendition of Bach's "Goldberg Variations," which features his own improvisations over Bach's original themes.

Currently, Oláh is a member of the jazz faculty of the Liszt Music Academy of Budapest and leads big band workshops at the Berlin Jazz Institute. He plans to record a Concerto for Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Band, and is working on arrangements for his new compositions, which will be included on an album in memory of Béla Bartok. Earlier this year, Oláh received the Franz Liszt Award, the most prestigious award for music given by the Hungarian Ministry of Culture.

BMI is proud to represent the work of Thelonious Monk and the majority of today's outstanding jazz composers, including Monk Award winners Joshua Redman and Jackie Terrasson. BMI supports the careers of more than 220,000 American composers, and we are proud to represent Herbie Hancock, the Institute's Chairman, Billy Dee Williams, and, of course, T.S. Monk, Jr.

Established in 1986 in memory of the renowned jazz pianist and composer, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz aims to preserve America's legacy of jazz through performance and education. The Institute offers the world's most promising young musicians college level training by America's jazz masters and presents public school-based jazz education programs for young people around the world. Additionally, the Institute provides scholarships, performance opportunities and worldwide recognition to gifted young musicians through its many jazz education programs. The Institute's most recent project is Jazz in America: The National Jazz Curriculum, a free Internet-based curriculum for 5th, 8th and 11th grade public school students.  


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