Juilliard pianist Kris Bowers, a second-year master of music degree student in the Juilliard Jazz program, has won the $25,000 first prize in the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, presented by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Bowers has won a recording contract from Concord Music Group.
At the September 12 event in Washington, he performed with jazz greats Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, John Patitucci, Jimmy Heath, Joe Lovano, Kevin Eubanks, and Juilliard Jazz Artistic Director Carl Allen.
A native of Los Angeles, Bowers received his bachelor of music degree in jazz studies at Juilliard, where he studied privately with Frank Kimbrough and Kenny Barron.
Bowers began studying piano privately at age nine. He enrolled in classical and jazz classes at the Colburn School for the Performing Arts while completing his education at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.
Bowers is the founder of Campusounds, dedicated to the discovery and promotion of music being created on college campuses all over the world. Campusounds news and reviews are written by students on the scene.
Juilliard Jazz is has had four of its alumni among the last six Monk competition winners, but Bowers is the first currently enrolled Juilliard student to win the prestigious honor.
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, a nonprofit jazz-education organization, was founded in 1986 in memory of the legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Sphere Monk. It has presented the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition since 1987. Past judges have included Dave Brubeck, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis, Al Jarreau, Marian McPartland, and Pat Metheny.