Herbie Hancock Jazz Institute Semifinalists Announced

Competition Dec. 2-3 in D.C.

Twelve young jazz guitarists from around the world will compete Dec. 2-3 in the 2019 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition to be held in D.C.

The semifinalists include Cecil Alexander of Muskegon, Michigan; Joseph Bell of Princeton, New Jersey; Will Brahm of Portland, Oregon; François Chanvallon of Paris; Lucian Gray of Toronto; Max Light of Bethesda, Maryland; Armen Movsesyan of Los Angeles; EvgenyPobozhiy of Seversk, Russia; Matt Sewell of St. Louis; Juan Vidaurre of Caracas, Venezuela; Tal Yahalom of Jerusalem; and Francesco Zampini of Rome.

The aspiring musicians will perform for 15 minutes in the semifinals round before an all-star judging panel from noon to 5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 2 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The judges will select three finalists to perform in the Competition Finals on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Northwest.

At stake will be more than $150,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a $30,000 first-place scholarship and guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group.

The evening will culminate with an All-Star Gala Concert featuring performances by Herbie Hancock, Dee DeeBridgewater, Bobby Watson, Musical Director John Beasley and others.

Proceeds from the competition and All-Star Gala Concert will support the Institute’s public schools’ education programs in D.C., Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Newark, San Francisco and the Mississippi Delta.

Tickets for the semifinals are free of charge but limited and will be distributed starting at 11 a.m. by the Smithsonian Associates at the museum on a first-come, first-served basis.

Concert tickets are $35 to $125 and may be purchased via the Kennedy Center box office in person, by calling 800.444.1324, or online at

Information regarding VIP packages, which include a post-event VIP Cast Party, is available from the Institute at 202.364.7272.

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