Semi-finalists qualified for the semi-finals in Krakow

Meet the semi-finalists of the fourth edition of the competition!

Hlib Baisha

Hlib Baisha is a musician from Ukraine holding a double-major Bachelor degree in Jazz Guitar & Jazz Composition / Arranging from Conservatorium Maastricht. Currently  he is studying Jazz Guitar at Conservatorium van  Amsterdam’s Master’s program.

Hlib is an innovative musician bringing to jazz new sounds, techniques, and unconventional arrangements: he merges jazz improvisation concepts with a variety of different forms of classical and contemporary music. Possession of a unique archtop nylon-string guitar allows Hlib to enrich his jazz performance with classical, flamenco, and Brazilian techniques. 

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” This famous aphorism by Mark Twain describes the early years of a future virtuoso in the best possible way: Hlib’s first acquaintance with the instrument took place at the age of 14, with no teachers of music around; his only tutor was loneliness. When he was a teenager, Hlib’s mother brought him to the United States, which appeared to Hlib no less weird and hostile than to Columbus-led adventurists centuries before. Trying to escape the new unfriendly reality, Hlib was locking himself in his room and diving in the sounds of music. YouTube stars, whose play he tried to mimic, made his virtual company. 

After one and a half years of self-imposed confinement, Hlib decides to study music professionally. He insists on leaving the US and returning to Ukraine. There, under the guidance of his grandmother – a classical music educator at Kharkiv Conservatory – he learns music esthetics and theory. His grandmother inculcates in Hlib love for classical music; no matter what he plays today – jazz, rock, or pop – his listeners can always feel his classic-style fervor. 

It was his grandmother’s classes that prepared Hlib for entering Kharkiv music college named after the famous Ukrainian composer Boris Lyatoshinsky. There, Hlib is lucky to become a disciple of Vitaliy Pazera – an avant-garde composer, who, with the passing of time, becomes Hlib’s dear friend. Pazera strongly advises Hlib, now interested in jazz improvising, to continue his musical journey in Europe as jazz education in Ukraine is of a rather low level. Traditionally, the emphasis is on teaching classics there.

In 2015, Hlib was admitted to Conservatorium Maastricht. Under the supervision of Jan Formannoy, an outstanding jazz performer, Hlib learns to understand jazz-guitar aesthetics and traditions. The more time passes, however, the more Hlib realizes: as much as he enjoys studying jazz guitar, it is never enough for him. His most cherished idols, the great Prokofiev and Shostakovich, studied piano and composition simultaneously, and Hlib is dying to follow their path.

During his first two years in Maastricht, Hlib completed almost all school side subjects. Interested not only in playing but in composing as well, he is taking composing classes and participates in composition projects. As a recognition of Hlib’s achievements, he was awarded an excellence scholarship and allowed, as an exception, to study two majors at once: jazz guitar and composition/arranging.

During his last two years in Maastricht, under the guidance of distinguished maestros Joachim Schoenecker (guitar) and Wolfgang Braun (composition), Hlib developed his own ideas of merging jazz improvisation concepts with a variety of different forms of classical and contemporary music. He performed at numerous venues as a solo guitarist and in bands, playing with such outstanding musicians as Peter Bernstein, Gilad Hekselman, Jesse van Ruller, and Kurt Rosenwinkel at their workshops. He finds his unique sound with the nylon archtop guitar manufactured by a Dutch luthier – Daniel Slaman. 

For more than two years, I have been looking for an instrument that would bring all my ideas to life in the most accurate way possible. And then I finally found it, a reflection of myself: half classical, half jazz guitar soul. Not only has she brought my ideas to life; she is constantly challenging me with new, most audacious visions.”  

Hlib has written music for Amsterdam Concertgebouw jazz orchestra, underscored the movie “In de mond van waanzin”, performed together with Mike Roelofs and Ron van Straatum. He has produced two albums: Lost Under the Guidance, Prt.1 was recorded by Hlib Baisha Trio, while Lost Under the Guidance, Prt. 2  was recored in a duo with Mike Roelofs, a virtuoso pianist.

Hlib Baisha is the winner of “Louis van Dijk Jazz Award” and “Mechelen Jazz Contest” of 2019.

Iver Cardas 

I started playing the electric guitar at the age of 6, and from the very beginning I attended  guitar lessons playing mostly rock music and learning the instrument’s expressive qualities by transcribing guitar solos by Brian May. Both of my parents are musicians -  my father (Emery Cardas) is principal cellist in the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and my mother (Berit Værnes Cardas) plays in the Vertavo String Quartet. I really had an upbringing that revolved around music.

I attended the talent program at NMH (Norwegian Academy of Music) in 2015/16 and 2016/17 and had frequent lessons at the Academy from the age of 17 with teachers like Hilmar Jensson, Markus Lillehaug Johnsen, Roger Arntzen and Pål Thowsen. I’ve had private lessons with Lage Lund, Eivind Opsvik, Bjørn Vidar Solli, Mathias Eick and Eivind Aarset.
 In recent years I’ve had the opportunity to play with prominent musicians of the Norwegian music scene. This includes Mats Eilertsen, Per Zanussi, Frode Haltli and the Vertavo Quartet. Performing experience includes playing in large ensembles e.g. big bands - Prime Time Orchestra and Kjellerbandet, as well as less conventional ensembles like AOJO (Akershus Oslo Jazz Orchestra). I have toured extensively with the 12-piece band “2019: A Jazz Odyssey!” and the “ØyvindLand” septet. I have performed at renowned festivals like Oslo Jazz Festival, Moldejazz, Jazzfest (Trondheim), Vossa Jazz, Dølajazz and Standard Bank Jazz Festival (Grahamstown, South Africa). During my jazz studies in Trondheim I also developed a strong interest in classical music. I wanted to understand the narratives in the music of composers from different periods like Bach, Mozart, Ravel and Schönberg. The melodic language of composers like Janacek and Schnittke also influences my improvisation, although at the same time I maintain profound respect for the American jazz tradition and its history.

Marek Cedrzak 

A guitar player born in Zywiec, Poland, currently based in Warsaw. Graduate of Karol Szymanowski Music Academy in Katowice. Among his achievements we will find the Grand Prix of the School & Jazz Festival with Marek Cendrzak Trio, a special honourable mention at Azoty Tarnów Group Jazz Contest and sharing the stage with Ron Carter during the concert entitled “Ron Carter & LOTOS Jazz Festival Big Band”. He studied with Prof. Karol Ferfecki Ph.D. and participated in lessons and master classes with Pat Metheny, Mike Moreno,Janek Gwizdala, Dean Brown, Rafał Sarnecki and Attila Muehl. He collaborated with, among others Małgorzata Hutek, Aga Derlak, Grzech Piotrowski.

Mike de Souza

Mike De Souza grew up in Hertfordshire (UK), where he first picked up the guitar at the age of 12, marking the start of a life-long obsession with music. His professional career began at the age of 20, and he has now completed 5 UK jazz tours, has performed festivals internationally in Krakow (Jazz Juniors 2021) and in Graz (Jazzwerkstatt 2017), and has performed at many prestigious jazz clubs including Ronnie Scott’s, and Pizza Express, to name a few. 
In 2016, he was selected to perform 3 concerts with Terence Blanchard, which included a sold-out show at Band On The Wall, in Manchester. In the following year, he co-released the album ‘Pond Life’ with his group Big Bad Wolf, which ranked 3rd in Jazzwise Magazine’s “top 10 albums of 2017”, and also received critical acclaim in the UK press and online media. 
As a leader, Mike has released 2 recordings to date: an EP entitled “Road Fork”(2018), and his debut album “Slow Burn” (2019) which was widely praised in the online jazz media. He is now working towards releasing a new album with his latest project “Chrysalis”.  
He has featured on numerous recordings as a side-man: Times Leap (Simon Read Octet), Reflector (Twospeak), Beware of the Bear (Phil Meadows), and Music for Bosch People (Alex Paxton). He also collaborates with former ECM artist Martin Speake, in his band “Charukesi”. 
In January 2020, Mike was appointed Senior Lecturer at Leeds Conservatoire, where he currently teaches guitar on the Jazz and Popular Music degree courses.

Noah Myers

Noah Myers began playing guitar at age 12 and soon after auditioned for The Orange County High School of the Arts, a rigorous audition-based 7th-12th grade magnet school in Santa Ana, California. After a few years of playing primarily blues and rock music, Noah was exposed to jazz and began studying and playing with guitarists such as the esteemed Ron Eschete. After receiving accolades such as an outstanding musician award from Downbeat magazine and a semifinalist ranking in the Music Center’s Spotlight competition, Noah went on to attend the University of North Texas on two performance scholarships where he is currently in the final year of his undergraduate Jazz Studies degree. 

While at UNT, Noah has had the opportunity to study with educators such as Davy Mooney and also play with the likes of Russell Malone, Regina Carter, Quincy Davis, and many others. As part of the 2 o’clock lab band, Noah also had the opportunity to tour Chicago and gig at acclaimed venues such as FitzGerald’s nightclub and the Jazz Showcase. Besides his involvement at UNT, Noah actively gigs in the lively Dallas-Fort Worth music scene where he plays in settings from John Wasson’s Strata Big Band to trio at local restaurants. 

Among the many innovators that inspire him, Noah cites Grant Green, Roy Hargrove, Sullivan Fortner, Ben Monder, and Olivier Messiaen for his approach to guitar and composition that aspires to stay rooted in blues and melodicism while pushing harmonic bounds.

Ofir Noy

Ofir Noy is a 23 years old jazz guitar player from Kfar Saba, Israel. Ofir started studying jazz with the master guitarist Yosi Levy at the age of 16. At the same time he studiedmusic at Metro - West High School where he got exposed to classical music as well as many other styles of music. After graduating from high school, he joined the Israeli Air Force band as part of his military service (where he had the opportunity to perform in Poland). At the same time he also studied at the New School Jazz Program at the Tel Aviv Conservatory with Israel jazz greats such as Avishai Cohen, Yuval Cohen, Ofer Ganor, Yotam Silberstein and many more. He played at various venues and events, including the Red Sea Jazz Festival and the Jerusalem Jazz Festival. Currently, Ofir is finishing his BA in Jazz Performance at Jerusalem Academy of Musi.

Mads Oldenskov

My name is Mads Oldenskov, I am 18 years old, and I come from Denmark. Daily I study at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music. Some of my teachers are Anders Mogensen, Thomasz Dabrowski and Erik Ørum, just to name a few. I really like the sound of bebop, neobop, and hardbop. Some of my idols are Charlie Parker, Peter Bernstein and Freddie Hubbard. Before I studied at the Royal Conservatory I went to a folk high school for a year with music as my main topic. For one year I played in the Danish youth big band with which we toured in America and Europe. I won two band battles in Denmark (2018, 2020).

Mateus Saldanha

The first time I had my first guitar lesson was in a village association with an amateur teacher when I was 4 years old. With the support of my parents and while attending basic education, I started my music learning in Santa Comba Dão Conservatory. Here I took my first steps with classical guitar, learning and working on my musicality and instrumental technique. I went there three times a week to attend musical education lessons where I worked on ear training and solfege. I studied at that conservatory for nine years. 

In the last three years, I starred in three Musicals and that gave me the chance to see and feel the music in a different way. Indeed I had to perform drama, singing, dancing and guitar playing, and that was something new for me.

Last year, I had the opportunity to have a Jazz Masterclass with great jazz musicians here, in Portugal. That was when I realised that I was fond of Jazz and it quickly became my passion. I concluded my studies at the Conservatory and at the same time at the basic school in 2017. Then I decided to apply to two jazz high schools (Conservatório de Musica de Coimbra and JOBRA in Estarreja). I was admitted to both of them. I decided to choose and stay at the Music Conservatory in Coimbra because I knew there were very competent teachers there and that the school had already won many awards in jazz competitions. 

During the following three years I got very good results in all the music subjects - especially in guitar recitals.  After I have finished my studies at Music Conservatory (2020), I decided to apply for The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in NY and Conservatorium Van Amsterdam (Netherlands). I was admitted to both schools but because of the COVID-19  pandemic,  together with my parents and teachers I decided to stay in Portugal. At the moment I am attending  Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa University.

Raphael Silverman

Raphael Silverman is a jazz guitarist, composer, and teacher. He grew up in White Plains, NY and started playing the guitar at 13. Early on, he was greatly inspired by rock, folk, and country guitarists like Nels Cline, Bob Dylan, Rivers Cuomo, and Chet Atkins. He then quickly moved on to jazz, first falling in love with the music of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. In high school, Raphael participated in Jazz at Lincoln Center HSJA Jazz Program and studied privately with guitarists David Rosenthal, Jonathan Kreisberg, and Rodney Jones. Raphael now attends Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is a sophomore. He attended his freshman year of college at the University of Chicago, where he was fortunate to study with legendary guitarist Bobby Broom. He continues to study with Bobby and considers him a great mentor. Raphael draws inspiration from musicians such as Bobby Broom, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Keith Jarrett, and Thelonious Monk. Raphael has had the opportunity to work and learn from great musicians such as Terrell Stafford, Giveton Gelin, Ron Vincent, Miki Yamanaka, Dmitri Kolesnik, Graciliano Zambonin, Hiroshi Yamazaki, and others. Raphael has performed at renowned venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smalls, Jazz Forum and others. He leads his group, The Raphael Silverman Trio, around NYC.

Iakovos   Symeonidis

Iakovos   Symeonidis,   from   Athens,   Greece,   started   playing   guitar   at   the   age   of   10.   He   studied   classical   guitar   at   the   National   Conservatory   of   Athens   where   he   graduated   with   a   “Soloist   Diploma”  in   2013.   Over   the   years,   he   has   participated  in   numerous   guitar   seminars   and   master   classes,   and   had  lessons   with   the   classical   guitarists   Roland   Dyens,   Evangelos   Asimakopoulos,   Ricardo   Gallen and  Kostas   Kotsiolis.   He   has   won   three   competitions  in   Athens,  Greece.   
Iakovos   got interested  in  jazz   at   the   age   of   22   and   graduated  in   June   2019   from   the   Prins   Claus   Conservatorium  in   Groningen,   Netherlands   (Bachelor   of   Jazz   Guitar).   Through  the   Conservatory's   “New   York   Comes   to   Groningen'' program,   he   played   with   various   American   guest   teachers   such   as   Todd   Coolman,   Spike   Wilner,   Michael   Mossman,   Kurt   Weiss,   Marjorie   Barns,   Joris   Teepe and Jasper   Soffers,   among   others.   He   also   had   private   lessons   with   Dave   Stryker,   Freddie   Bryant,   Paul   Bollenback,   Ed   Cherry   and   Jonathan   Kreisberg.   
Since   relocating   to   Berlin  in   2019,   he   has   been   performing   with  local   Berlin   musicians   while   continuing   to   perform   regularly  in   Greece.   In   addition,   he   recently   completed   recording   of   his  debut   album   with   his   organ   trio,   which  is   slated   to   be   released   at   the   end   of   2021.

Benjamin Turner

Ben, a graduate of the Boyer College of Music at Temple University, is a guitarist, composer, and educator based in the Detroit area where he maintains a busy schedule as a leader, sideman, and teacher. Ben is currently pursuing his master’s degree in jazz studies at Michigan State University as a graduate assistant under guitarist Randy Napoleon.

Ben has studied with Peter Bernstein, Bobby Broom, Mike Moreno, Director of Jazz Studies at Temple University Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield, Dick Oatts, Dave Wong, among others.

As part of an exchange program through Temple University, Ben spent four months in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, studying with Jesse van Ruller at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. While there, he was afforded opportunities to travel and perform around Europe.

Ben has played with musicians such as Byron Landham, Mike Boone, Behn Gillece, Matthew Parrish, Larry McKenna, John Swana, Adam Niewood, and more. He has also performed at venues including The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center, the Kimmel Center, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, as well as clubs around Philadelphia.

Ben was one of two guitarists accepted into the 2018 class of Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. While there he worked with esteemed faculty members including Kennedy Center Artistic Director and Jason Moran, NEA Jazz Master and Grammy-winner Dee Dee Bridgewater, Mark Whitfield, Ralph Peterson Jr., Reuben Rogers, Xavier Davis, Mark Shim, and Darren Barrett. Jazz Ahead ultimately concluded with three performances of all original music at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage.

Ben auditioned and was selected for the 2018 Telluride Jazz All-Stars Ensemble which performed at the 2018 Telluride Jazz Festival in Telluride, Colorado, and the 2020 Mid- Atlantic Collegiate Jazz Orchestra, which performed at the 2020 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival.

Ben received an award in Downbeat magazine for outstanding performance (undergaduate college) as part of the 2020 Downbeat Student Music Awards, and was selected to participate in the 2020 JAS Academy in Aspen, Colorado and the 2021 Brevard Jazz Institute led by trombonist Michael Dease.

Ben has also worked as a teaching assistant for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Summer Jazz Academy at Bard College and the COTA Jazz Camp in Delaware Water Gap, PA.


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