The EMF Piano Gala
Special Events Series
Marika Bournaki, piano
Awadagin Pratt, piano
William Wolfram, piano
AWADAGIN PRATT began studying piano at 6 and violin at 9. He entered the University of Illinois at 16, studying piano, violin and conducting. Later, at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, he became the first student in the school's history to receive diplomas in three performance areas: piano, violin and conducting. In recognition of this achievement and for his work in the field of classical music, Pratt received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins.
Pratt has played numerous recitals throughout the U.S., including performances at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and Orchestra Hall in Chicago. His orchestral performances have included appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Minnesota Orchestra and the Pittsburgh, St. Louis, National, Detroit and New Jersey symphonies. Major summer festival engagements include EMF, Ravinia, Blossom, Wolf Trap, Caramoor, Aspen, the Hollywood Bowl and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Tokyo. Internationally, Pratt has toured Japan several times and performed in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Israel and South Africa.
As a conductor, Pratt has participated in American Symphony Orchestra League and Conductor's Guild workshops, as well as in the National Conducting Institute, where he worked closely with Leonard Slatkin and conducted the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. He has also conducted the Toledo, New Mexico, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe and Prince George County symphonies, the Concertante di Chicago and orchestras in Japan.
A favorite on college and university performing arts series and a strong advocate of music education, Pratt participates in many residency and outreach activities wherever he appears, including masterclasses, children's recitals, play/talk demonstrations and question/answer sessions for students of all ages.
Named one of the 50 Leaders of Tomorrow in Ebony magazine's 50th anniversary issue, Pratt has been the subject of numerous articles in the national press, including Newsweek and People magazine. He has been featured on several NPR programs, has performed on the Today Show, Good Morning America and Sesame Street, and has been profiled on CBS’s Sunday Morning. He performed twice at The White House at the invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton.
Pratt records exclusively on the Angel/EMI label and discography includes his debut album, A Long Way From Normal, as well as Live from South Africa, an all-Beethoven Sonata CD, Transformations, and an all-Bach disc with the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
Pratt is professor of piano at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. He was also the artistic director of the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati and is currently the artistic director of the Art of the Piano Festival at CCM.
WILLIAM WOLFRAM was a silver medalist at both the William Kapell and the Naumburg International Piano Competitions and a bronze medalist at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. A versatile recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician, he has won the respect of musicians and critics across the country and abroad. Wolfram has several recordings on the Naxos label, has played recitals in cities throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe and has performed with dozens of the finest orchestras in the world.
His concerto debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony under the baton of Leonard Slatkin was the first in a long succession of appearances and career relationships with numerous American conductors and orchestras. He has appeared with the San Francisco, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Seattle and New Jersey symphonies, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the National Symphony, the Florida Orchestra and the Grand Teton and Obispo Mozart festival orchestras, among many others.
He enjoys regular and ongoing close associations with the Dallas Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra. Conductors with whom he has worked include Jerzy Semkow, Joseph Silverstein, Mark Wigglesworth, Jeffrey Tate, Vladimir Spivakov, Gerard Schwarz, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Jeffrey Kahane, James Judd, Roberto Minczuk, Stefan Sanderling, JoAnn Falletta, James Paul and Carlos Kalmar. Abroad, Wolfram has appeared with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Warsaw, Moscow and Budapest philharmonics, the Capetown and Johannesburg symphonies of South Africa, L'Orchestre de Bretagne, the orchestras of Thailand and Singapore and the National Symphony of Peru.
An enthusiastic supporter of new music, he has collaborated with and performed music by composers such as Aaron Jay Kernis, Kenneth Frazelle, Marc Andre Dalbavie, Kenji Bunch and Paul Chihara. His world premiere performance of the Chihara re-orchestration of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, with the Milwaukee Symphony under the baton of Andreas Delfs, was met with great critical attention and acclaim.
Wolfram has extensive experience in the recording studio. For the Albany label, he recorded the piano concertos of Edward Collins with Marin Alsop and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Wolfram has recorded, and continues to record, the solo piano music of Franz Liszt for Naxos records. These recordings include Liszt's rarely heard Etudes en douze exercices, as well as opera transcriptions of both Donizetti and Bellini. Wolfram was the focus of a full chapter in Joseph Horowitz's book, The Ivory Trade: Music and the Business of Music at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. On television, he was a featured pianist in the documentary of the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition.
A graduate of The Juilliard School, William Wolfram resides in New York City.
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