Kudos

Oradell’s Drew Peterson won the 2017 American Pianists Awards’ top honor—a Christel DeHaan Fellowship and $50,000 cash prize.
Drew Petersen

Oradell’s Drew Peterson won the 2017 American Pianists Awards’ top honor—a Christel DeHaan Fellowship and $50,000 cash prize. The 23-year-old, a master’s degree candidate at the Juilliard School, earned the recognition after two days of “Gala Finals,” in which Peterson and four other competitors performed a major concerto. On the second night, he performed a two-movement Beethoven sonata (No. 22 in F major, op. 54), and teamed with the Pacifica Quartet to play Franck’s Piano Quintet in F minor.

Hackensack teenager and piano prodigy Matthew Whitaker is currently enjoying the critical acclaim of his debut album, Outta the Box, which was released in March. He’s also enjoying being compared with legendary artist Stevie Wonder. Why the comparisons? Although the 15-year-old is blind, like Wonder, he has already toured Asia and Europe, secured endorsement deals with major keyboard manufacturers and played renowned venues like the Apollo Theater and Carnegie Hall. And he’s not stopping there. Whitaker’s spent the last two years as the organist at the New Hope Baptist Church in his hometown.

Actor and Wood-Ridge native Alex Boniello recently portrayed Elvis Presley in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Million Dollar Quartet. Boniello, 26, has enjoyed a successful TV, film and stage career, highlighted by his Broadway breakthrough role in the 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. He’s also landed roles in the national tour of Green Day’s American Idiot, Cruel Intentions: The Musical, Brooklynite and I Am Harvey Milk

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