ALBANY — The Albany Symphony Orchestra, in its 50th anniversary season, will feature distinguished pianist Awadagin Pratt at its Nov. 16 “Beethoven in Blue Jeans” concert at 7:30 pm in the Albany Municipal Auditorium. Among his generation of concert artists, Pratt is acclaimed for his musical insight and intensely involving performances in recital and with symphony orchestras.
“The Symphony will wear jeans while performing on stage. Attendees are strongly encouraged to don denim as well. The idea is to reinforce the notion that classical music – and the symphony – is for everyone,” said ASO Music Director and Conductor Dr. Claire Fox Hillard.
Hillard has had a lifelong love for the music of Beethoven since a research project in the sixth grade. “I am looking forward to once again conducting these great works of Beethoven and collaborating with Awadagin Pratt, a renowned interpreter of Beethoven’s music,” he added.
Pratt is currently an associate professor of piano and artist in residence at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. He began studying piano at the age of six. At the age of 16 he entered the University of Illinois where he studied piano, violin and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he became the first student in the school’s history to receive diplomas in those three performance areas.
In recognition of this achievement and for his work in the field of classical music, Pratt recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins.
In 1992 Pratt won the Naumburg International Piano Competition and in 1994 he was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. He has played numerous recitals throughout the U.S. including performances at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. His many orchestral performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra and many other symphonies. Summer music festivals include Blossom, Wolftrap, Aspen and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Tokyo.
Pratt is also the artistic director of the Next Generation Festival and appears with cellist Zuill Bailey in duo recitals throughout the U.S. As a conductor he has conducted the Toledo, New Mexico, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe and Prince George County symphonies, the Concertante di Chicago and two orchestras in Japan.
On television, Pratt has performed on national morning shows and was a featured soloist on a PBS live broadcast from the Kennedy Center. In 2009 he was one of four artists selected to perform at a White House classical music event and he has performed two other times at the White House at the invitation of former President and Mrs. Clinton.
Pratt’s recordings for Angel /EMI include A Long Way From Normal, an all Beethoven Sonata CD and Live from South Africa. His more recent recordings include the Brahms Sonatas for Cello and Piano with Bailey for Telarc.
The complimentary pre-concert notes, insight into the performance by Hillard and Pratt from the stage, will begin at 6:30 pm. Also, guests may join the Conductor’s Circle post-concert reception to mingle and meet and greet Hillard and Pratt at the Albany Area Arts Council. Admission is $15 per person or a season pass membership is available.
Tickets are $25 and $35 depending on seat location. Student tickets with valid ID are $10. They may be purchased online at AlbanySymphony.org or by calling the ASO office at 229-430-8933.
The ASO is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a black-tie optional Golden Gala dinner dance on Nov. 15 at the Hilton Garden Inn beginning at 6:30 pm. Honorees are past association presidents, past guild presidents and Legacy members.
The next season subscription concert will be on Dec. 7 in the Darton State College Theatre at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm featuring the Mithril ensemble for a Celtic Holiday Celebration.
The ASO is a fully professional per service orchestra serving the southwest Georgia with classical, pops, educational and special concerts. The symphony draws professional performers and artists from a 100-mile radius and offers these artists many opportunities to perform. Recognized for its innovative audience developmental efforts and diverse programming, the orchestra has received the League of American Orchestras and American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awards on multiple occasions.