posted March 13, 2012

Jazz Pianist Fred Hersch to Perform on Wednesday, March 28

Jazz pianist Fred Hersch will perform at Hope College on Wednesday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Wichers Auditorium of Nykerk Hall of Music.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The performance marks a return engagement for Hersch, who has performed at the college a variety of times through the years, most recently in February 2011.  His visit to campus has been arranged by the college’s jazz-studies area.

“The jazz area has established an excellent relationship with Mr. Hersch and is exceedingly pleased to have him on campus as a continuing artist in residence once again this year,” said Dr. Brian Coyle, who is a professor of music and director of jazz studies at Hope.  “Mr. Hersch’s residency is a major coup for Hope College, due to his international stature, historical importance and busy touring schedule.”

Pianist and composer Hersch has been called a “one of the small handful of brilliant musicians of his generation" by “Downbeat.”  His numerous accomplishments include a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition, two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance and a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition. He has appeared on more than 100 recordings, including more than two dozen albums as bandleader/solo pianist.

His career as a performer has been enhanced by his composing, a vital part of nearly all of his live concerts and recordings. In 2003, he created “Leaves of Grass” (Palmetto Records), a large-scale setting of Walt Whitman’s poetry for two voices (Kurt Elling and Kate McGarry) and an instrumental octet; the work was presented in March 2005 in a sold-out performance at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall as part of a six-city U.S. tour. Hersch has toured with concert pianist Christopher O’Riley (“Heard Fresh: Music for Two Pianos”) and he has also collaborated with artists ranging from Bill Frisell, Toots Thielemans and Charlie Haden to singers Renée Fleming, Norma Winstone and Audra McDonald. He has received commissions from The Gilmore Keyboard Festival, The Doris Duke Foundation, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University, The Gramercy Trio and The Brooklyn Youth Chorus. His solo piano compositions and chamber music are published by Edition Peters. Naxos Records has released “Fred Hersch: Concert Music 2001-2006,” a disc of his through-composed “classical” works.

In 2006, Palmetto Records released the solo disc “Fred Hersch in Amsterdam: Live at the Bimhuis”; its release led to Hersch becoming the first pianist in the 70-year history of New York’s Village Vanguard to play an entire week as a solo pianist shortly after the disc’s release. In addition, he leads a trio and a quintet, and has ongoing special collaborations with jazz and classical instrumentalists and vocalists around the world. His recent projects include “The Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra: Live at Jazz Standard,” released in 2009 on Sunnyside Records and featuring an unconventional line-up of piano, trumpet, voice and percussion.

Hersch has acted as a passionate spokesman and fund-raiser for AIDS services and education agencies since 1993. He has produced and performed on four benefit recordings and at numerous concerts for the charities Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS that have raised more than $250,000 to date.

Hersch has been featured on “CBS Sunday Morning” with Dr. Billy Taylor, and on a wide variety of National Public Radio programs including “Fresh Air,” “Jazz Set,” “Studio 360” and “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz.” Hersch has also been awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship, grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer, and six composition residencies at The MacDowell Colony. He conducted a professional training workshop for young musicians at The Weill Institute at Carnegie Hall in 2008 and was awarded the Branigan Lectureship at Indiana University in 2004. A committed educator, has taught at The New School and Manhattan School of Music; he is currently a visiting professor at Western Michigan University and is on the Jazz Studies faculty of The New England Conservatory.

During his residency Mr. Hersch will perform clinics, give private lessons, perform a solo piano concert, and present a lecture/recital on his recovery from a two-month coma.

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