Entertainment

Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Awards Top Piano Prize at Kennedy Center Gala

All-Star Jazz Ensemble Honors Aretha Franklin, Dee Dee Bridgewater

Tom Oren of Tel Aviv rose to the top from a group of 14 jazz pianists to take first place in the 30th Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition.

The competition was for musicians ages 30 and under.

Following the announcement, a stunned 24-year-old Oren joined a host of jazz greats at the Kennedy Center to perform the Miles Davis composition “Walkin’.”

During the gala, an all-star group of music artists paid honor to Aretha Franklin, a longtime supporter of the institute. Franklin performed at many institute events and donated to the organization’s scholarship fund.

Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Chairman Herbie Hancock performs with Dee Dee Bridgewater during the institute's 2018 International Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater in D.C. on Dec. 3. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz)
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Chairman Herbie Hancock performs with Dee Dee Bridgewater during the institute’s 2018 International Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater in D.C. on Dec. 3. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz)

Performing several of Franklin’s hits were John Beasley, Theo Croker, Deborah Joy Winans, James Genus, Jimmy Heath and Ledisi.

Another highlight of the evening was multi-award winner and internationally celebrated vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater receiving the Institute’s Maria Fisher Founder’s Award. Host for the awards gala was award-winning actor, director and producer Blair Underwood.

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