San Antonio organization Musical Bridges Around the World announced Dionne Warwick, a Grammy Award-winning pop legend, as the honorary chair of MBAW’s 2024 Gurwitz International Piano Competition.
According to a Feb. 22 press release, Warwick will be part of a competition, which occurs every four years, will feature 12 of the best emerging piano talents from around the globe, ages 18-32.
The young pianists compete for gold, silver and bronze medals with prizes of $30,000, $20,000 and $10,000, respectively.
The next Gurwitz competition is scheduled to take place Jan. 26-Feb. 4 in San Antonio. Musical Bridges plans to announce the finalists in September.
Musical Bridges called Warwick an international music icon who has sold more than 100 million records, received six Grammys, and collaborated with or been inspired by numerous music stars over the years, including songwriting duo Hal David and Burt Bacharach, both of whom considered her their muse.
“Dionne Warwick has been an international star since performing with Marlene Dietrich in 1963 in Paris. She is known as an artist who bridges the gap of pop, gospel and R&B music, transcending race, culture, and musical boundaries—very much in line with the mission of Musical Bridges Around the World,” MBAW CEO Anya Grokhovski said in a statement.
Warwick was the first solo African American artist to sing before the Queen of England at a Royal Command Performance, and since then she has performed before numerous kings, queens, presidents and heads of state.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed her the first U.S Ambassador of Health. In 2002 she served as global ambassador for health and ambassador for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the release said.
Among her many awards, Warwick also received the prestigious 2011 Steve Chase Humanitarian Arts and Activism Award by the Desert Aids Project. She has campaigned for many causes and charities, including AIDS, The Starlight Foundation, children’s hospitals, world hunger, disaster relief and music education, for which she has raised millions of dollars, the release said.
MBAW also said the Gurwitz’s international committee of judges will be chaired by Scott Yoo, conductor and music director of the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra and host of the PBS documentary series “Now Hear This.”
Yoo has led orchestras and performed as a guest violinist with orchestras and at chamber festivals worldwide. He is also the founder of the Medellín Festicámara, a chamber music program that brings together world-class artists with underprivileged young musicians.
The Gurwitz is a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions, which oversees the Van Cliburn competition in Fort Worth—one of only seven U.S. member competitions of its kind.
The Gurwitz began as the San Antonio International Piano Competition, founded in 1983 by a group of San Antonio-area music lovers. The competition was renamed to honor the late Ruth Jean Gurwitz, who was president emeritus of SAIPC.