Ariel Artists

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Blair McMillen

piano

"New Music's Torchbearer... Blair McMillen can play composers like Debussy, Liszt, and Scriabin with flair, intelligence, and Juilliard-honed virtuosity... When played by the formidable Mr. McMillen, any piece sounds terrific."

– Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

Bio

Blair McMillen has established himself as one of the most versatile and sought-after pianists today. The New York Times has described him as “riveting,” “prodigiously accomplished and exciting,” and as one of the piano’s “brilliant stars.”

McMillen has performed in major venues both traditional and avant-garde: from Carnegie Hall, the Moscow Conservatory, Lincoln Center, Caramoor, Miller Theatre, and the Library of Congress; to (le) Poisson Rouge, Galapagos, and the Knitting Factory. Highlights from recent seasons include the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 1 at the Bard Music Festival, the Walter Piston Concertino for Piano in Carnegie Hall, and numerous appearances with the New York Philharmonic, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Albany Symphony.

2014 also saw McMillen’s debut at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, where he performed a solo recital featuring Morton Feldman’s Triadic Memories (a McMillen calling card; Alex Ross praised his “acute feeling for those remarkable passages…”) right on the heels of a sold-out performance with his tour de force piano sextet, Grand Band. Of his solo performance, the Kalamazoo Gazette wrote, “McMillen played with complete control, meticulously observing Feldman’s tempos, meters, and dynamics, making the high notes sing and the bass resonant…It was like watching the stars come out on a clear night by Lake Michigan, exquisitely played.”

Blair McMillen leads a multifarious musical life as pianist, chamber musician, conductor, and improviser. He thrives on playing a wide variety of musical styles: from medieval keyboard manuscripts to improvisation-based music of all types; from Classical/Romantic-era piano repertoire to the music of young 21st-century composers. Known for imaginative and daring programming, McMillen has premiered hundreds of new works both as a soloist and with numerous ensembles. He constantly collaborates with composers and artists of other genres in commissioning works that stretch the boundaries of the piano and the traditional recital format.

McMillen is pianist for the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players, the American Modern Ensemble, and the six-piano Grand Band, among others. He is the co-founder and co-director of the Rite of Summer Music Festival, an alt-classical outdoor concert series. Held on New York City’s Governors Island, Rite of Summer celebrated its fourth season in 2014 with eleven world premieres and concerts by Ethel, Iktus Percussion, Grand Band, and Dawn of Midi.

Blair McMillen holds degrees from Oberlin College, the Juilliard School, and the Manhattan School of Music. He lives in New York City, and has served on the music faculty at Bard College and Conservatory since 2005.

(408 words. August 2014, Ariel Artists. Please discard previously dated materials and contact Reynard Hulme, rey@arielartists.com, before making any alterations or cuts.)

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    Listen


    Claude Debussy, Jardin sous la pluie (from “Estampes”)

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    William Bolcom, Graceful Ghost Rag

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    John Corigliano, Strobe (from “Chiaroscur0″) (with pianist Sachiko Kato)

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    Morton Gould, Boogie-Woogie Etude

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    Frederic Rzewski, Spells (Thinking of Jelly Roll Morton)

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    Alexander Scriabin, 5 Preludes, Op. 74

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    Programs

    2015/16 Program Offerings

    Current & Recent Programs

    • Concerto Offerings

      FEATURED:

      Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
      Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 28

      György Ligeti (1923-2006)
      Piano Concerto

      Shostakovich (1906-1975)
      Piano Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra, Op. 35

      Beethoven (1770-1827)
      Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

       

      FULL REPERTOIRE LIST:

      J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
      Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052
      Keyboard Concerto No. 4 in A Major, BWV 1055

      Haydn (1732-1809)
      Piano Concerto in D Major, Hob. XVIII

      Mozart (1756-1791)
      Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453
      Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488

      Beethoven (1770-1827)
      Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15
      Piano Concerto No. 2 in Bb major, Op. 19
      Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58
      Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, “Emperor”

      Chopin (1810-1849)
      Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21

      César Franck (1822-1890)
      Symphonic Variations, M. 46

      Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894)
      Piano Concerto No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 70

      Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
      Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22

      Grieg (1843-1907)
      Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

      Ernest Chausson (1855-1899)
      Concerto (arr. Jon Magnussen)

      Bartók (1881-1945)
      Piano Concerto No. 1, Sz. 83

      Stravinsky (1882-1971)
      “Movements” for Piano and Orchestra
      Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments

      Prokofiev (1891-1953)
      Piano Concerto No. 1 in Db Major, Op. 10

      Gershwin (1898-1937)
      Rhapsody in Blue
      Concerto in F Major

      Shostakovich (1906-1975)
      Piano Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra, Op. 35
      Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102

      Elliott Carter (1908-2012)
      Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Piano

      Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
      Piano Concerto, Op. 38

      Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
      Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 28

      György Ligeti (1923-2006)
      Piano Concerto

      Joan Tower (b. 1938)
      Still/Rapids, for piano and orchestra (2013/1996)

      Lee Hyla (b. 1952)
      Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra No. 2 (1991)

      Carl Schimmel (b. 1975)
      Concerto for Piano (2009)

    Projects & Collaborations

    Grand Band
    Piano Sextet Supergroup

    Additional Offerings

    • Rhythm Nation: Piano as Percussion

      Of the many elements that define music, rhythm has arguably played the most crucial role in the development and furthering of piano repertoire over the past 100 years. What does it really mean when people call the piano a percussion instrument? You wil...

    • Piano 20/21

      This is a casual hour-long journey through some of the multifarious trends that constitute 20th- and 21st-century piano music. “Piano 20/21” is geared for pianists, composers, music-lovers, and non-musicians alike. For this program, Blair wil...

    • Master Classes

      Blair McMillen has nearly 20 years of teaching experience, and has given master classes at numerous schools and communities around the country. He has presented master classes to musicians of all ages and levels, and is comfortable coaching soloists an...

    • Extended Residency

      The main goal of an extended residency is to allow students to nurture a working relationship with a performing artist over the course of several days. The time period allows for interaction well beyond what is possible in a one-time workshop or master...