Awadagin Pratt, piano

Thursday, July 11, 7:30 p.m.

Page Theatre, Saint Mary’s University

Artist Bio

Through his kaleidoscopic career as a pianist, conductor, educator, and curator of memorable musical moments, Awadagin Pratt is actively inventing the artistic world he longs to live in – a world that shines light on rich voices of the past and present, amplifies the diverse talents of today’s brightest creative minds, and paves the way for a new generation of inventive musical artists.

Since launching onto the international stage after winning the prestigious Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1992 and receiving a 1994 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Awadagin has received acclaim for delivering “forceful, imaginative, and precisely tinted” performances (Washington Post) and is hailed as “one of the great and distinctive American pianists and conductors of our time” (WGBH).

He has appeared at addresses as familiar as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (at the invitation of the Clinton and Obama administrations) and Sesame Street (at the invitation of Big Bird). His breakneck concert schedule has taken him across six continents for performances with the Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, the New York Philharmonic, and many others; solo recitals at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center; and chamber music collaborations with Zuill Bailey, Simone Dinnerstein, and the Harlem and St. Lawrence String Quartets.

Highlights of Awadagin’s 2023-24 season include concerto appearances with the Nashville, Utah, Bournemouth, and Annapolis Symphonies; A Far Cry at Boston’s Jordan Hall; and the Cincinnati, Manitoba, New Century, and IRIS Chamber Orchestras. Recital engagements include performances at Kaufman Music Center’s Merkin Hall, a program of four-hand music with Simone Dinnerstein at the Washington Performing Arts Society, and an appearance at the Irving S. Gilmore International Piano Festival. August 2023 marks the release of his first album for New Amsterdam Records, STILLPOINT, which explores the truth and beauty found within T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets through newly composed works by Tyshawn Sorey, Paola Prestini, Pēteris Vasks, Jessie Montgomery, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Alvin Singleton, and Judd Greenstein.

Between performances at the piano, Awadagin maintains a bustling conducting career. This 23-24 season marks his first as Principal Conductor of the Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra and a return to the podium of the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh. He recently made his conducting debut with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra (Tbilisi); his operatic debut leading Porgy and Bess with the Greensboro Opera (North Carolina); and conducted a concert featuring the music of jazz great Ornette Coleman with Bang on a Can at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

But Awadagin’s creativity cannot be confined to the stage alone. After witnessing the globally broadcast execution of George Floyd by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department, he published a podcast that quickly evolved into a multimedia musical experience. Performed primarily on college campuses across the U.S., Awadagin Pratt: Black in America fuses the music of Bach, Messaien, and Liszt with still and moving pictures by filmmaker Alrick Brown and an original narration in which he chronicles his life – from his time as a music student at the Peabody Conservatory through his ascent to international acclaim – through graphic accounts of numerous police stops and arrests he experienced for Driving While Black. In 2023, a documentary film version of Awadagin Pratt: Black in America, directed by Michelle Bauer Carpenter, aired in more than one million U.S. households and screened at film festivals across the country.

Awadagin’s commitment to ushering in the next generation of agile, creative, and inventive pianists is evidenced by his work as founding director of the Next Generation Festival, the Art of the Piano Foundation, and the Nina Simone Piano Competition, a new biennial competition that celebrates diversity in classical music by showcasing the tremendous talents of young Black pianists. He has adjudicated the Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, Cleveland International Piano Competition, Minnesota e-Competition, Unisa International Piano Competition, and the International Competition for Young Pianists created in memory of Vladimir Horowitz.

Having recently left his position as Professor and Artist in Residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) after two decades, Awadagin is now Professor of Piano at the San Francisco Conservatory. He remains the only graduate of the Peabody Institute to earn performance certificates in three areas – violin, piano, and conducting – and has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins University and honorary doctorates from Illinois Wesleyan University, Susquehanna University, and the Boston Conservatory.


Glass: Glassworks

Couperin: Les Baricades misterieuses

Vasks: Castillo Interior

Hersch: Nocturne for the Left Hand Alone

Rachmaninoff: Prelude Op. 23, No. 4

Chopin: Nocturne Op. 62, No. I

Tchaikovsky: Intermezzo from “The Nutcracker” (arr. Pletnev)

Beethoven: Selected Bagatelles Op. 126

Liszt: Sonata in B minor