posted February 2, 2009

Jazz Pianist Fred Hersch to Perform Feb. 22

The department of music at Hope College will feature Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch in performance on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 3 p.m. in Wichers Auditorium of Nykerk Hall of Music.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Pianist and composer Hersch is widely recognized for his ability to reinvent the standard jazz repertoire, investing time-tested classics with keen insight, fresh ideas and extraordinary technique while steadfastly creating his own unique body of works.  He has been described by "The New Yorker" as "a poet of a pianist" and "The New York Times" as "a master who plays it his way."

Hersch's many accomplishments include a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition, a Rockefeller Fellowship for a composition residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy, two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance and a 2006 Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition.

He has recorded more than two-dozen albums as a solo artist or bandleader and appears on over one hundred recording projects as a duo collaborator, sideman, or featured soloist.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Hersch began playing the piano when he was four years old. Much to his teacher's chagrin, a career in jazz could have been foreshadowed by the young Hersch's propensity to improvise on the work of classical masters. Broadway original cast albums and his grandmother's collection of sheet music fed an early interest in the popular song. Hersch's musical journey led him to Boston's New England Conservatory, where he graduated with honors in 1977.

Heading south to New York City, Hersch quickly became one of the most in-demand pianists in town. He worked as a soloist and in duo settings at the legendary club Bradley's. As a sideman, he appeared with such outstanding jazz artists as saxophonists Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, and Jane Ira Bloom; flugelhornist Art Farmer; harmonica wizard Toots Thielemans; vibraphonist Gary Burton; vocalists Kurt Elling, Norma Winstone and Nancy King; and bassists Sam Jones and Charlie Haden.

Nykerk Hall of Music is located in the central Hope campus at the former 127 E. 12th St. between College and Columbia avenues.