February 17, 2022
The Gilmore Announces $8 Million Gift To Establish The Larry J. Bell Jazz Artist Awards

New $300,000 award to be presented every four years to a jazz pianist beginning in 2026

Selection process to be modeled after internationally renowned Gilmore Artist Award

Kalamazoo, MI (February 17, 2022) – Pierre van der Westhuizen, Executive and Artistic Director of The Irving S. Gilmore International Piano Festival, today announced the establishment of the Larry J. Bell Jazz Artist Award for jazz pianists. As with the internationally renowned Gilmore Artist Award for classical pianists, the recipient of the new award will be chosen every four years by an anonymous committee and will receive $300,000—a $50,000 cash grant to be used at the artist’s discretion, and $250,000 disbursed over a four-year period for projects and activities that will enhance the artist’s musicianship and career. The first Larry J. Bell Jazz Artist will be announced in 2026.

Mr. van der Westhuizen also announced that the next Gilmore Artist Award—scheduled for 2022—will be delayed until 2024 because the selection committee has been unable to travel and attend live performances of nominated pianists during the pandemic. The most recent Gilmore Artist to be named was Igor Levit in 2018.

The Larry J. Bell Jazz Artist Awards will be established with an $8 million gift to The Gilmore endowment and will be named for Kalamazoo businessman and President of the Gilmore International Piano Festival Board of Trustees Larry J. Bell, the founder of Bell’s Brewery. In addition to the $300,000 award, a new Larry J. Bell Young Jazz Artist Award will be established bestowing $25,000 every two years to the most promising of the new generation of American jazz pianists age 22 and younger, beginning in 2024. This mirrors the Gilmore Young Artist Award that between 1990 and 2022 has supported 38 young pianists, including most recently Janice Carissa and Clayton Stephenson.

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