Among his generation of concert artists, pianist Awadagin Pratt is acclaimed for his musical insight and intensely involving performances in recital and with symphony orchestras.
Born in Pittsburgh, Awadagin Pratt began studying piano at the age of six. Three years later, having moved to Normal, Illinois with his family, he also began studying violin. 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 three performance areas – piano, violin and conducting. In recognition of this achievement and for his work in the field of classical music, Mr. Pratt recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins.
In 1992 Mr. Pratt won the Naumburg International Piano Competition and two years later was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. He has played numerous recitals throughout the US including performances at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and Chicago's Orchestra Hall. His many orchestral performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra and the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, National, Detroit and New Jersey symphonies among many others. Summer festival engagements include Ravinia, Blossom, Wolftrap, Caramoor and Aspen, the Hollywood Bowl and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Tokyo. Mr. Pratt is also the Artistic Director of the Next Generation Festival, a two-week chamber music festival in Lancaster, PA and appears with cellist Zuill Bailey in duo recitals throughout the US.
Recent and upcoming appearances include recital engagements at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and in Baltimore, La Jolla, Los Angeles and at Duke University, as well as appearances with the orchestras of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Seattle, Colorado, Portland ME, Utah, Richmond, Grand Rapids, Winston-Salem, Springfield IL and Mobile. He played a recital in Carnegie Hall for the Naumburg Foundation in November 2010.
As a conductor, Mr. Pratt has participated in the American Symphony Orchestra League and Conductor's Guild workshops and 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 two orchestras in Japan.
A great favorite on college and university performing arts series and a strong advocate of music education, Awadagin Pratt participates in numerous residency and outreach activities wherever he appears; these activities may include master classes, children's recitals, play/talk demonstrations and question/answer sessions for students of all ages.
Internationally, Mr. Pratt has toured Japan four times and performed in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Israel and South Africa.
Awadagin Pratt has been the subject of numerous articles in the national press, including Newsweek, People Magazine and New York Newsday. He was named one of the 50 Leaders of Tomorrow in Ebony Magazine's special 50th anniversary issue and has been featured on National Public Radio's Performance Today, St. Paul Sunday Morning and Weekend Edition. On television, Mr. Pratt has performed on the Today Show, Good Morning America and Sesame Street, been profiled on CBS Sunday Morning and was one of the featured soloists on PBS's "Live from the Kennedy Center - A Salute to Slava." In November 2009, Mr. Pratt was one of four artists selected to perform at a White House classical music event that included student workshops hosted by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and performing in concert for guests including President Obama. He has performed two other times at the White House, both at the invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Pratt's recordings for Angel/EMI include A Long Way From Normal, an all Beethoven Sonata CD, Live From South Africa, Transformations and an all Bach disc with the St. Lawrence String Quartet. His most recent recordings are the Brahms Sonatas for Cello and Piano with Zuill Bailey for Telarc and a recording of the music of Judith Lang Zaimont with the Harlem Quartet for Navona Records.
Mr. Pratt is currently an Associate Professor of Piano and Artist in Residence at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.
Pianist seems poised to be 2nd black classical superstar.Orlando Sentinel Tribune, 6/21/92, p.F3
Prize-winning pianist Awadagin Pratt is classical -- but not conventional; now he's a player. People, August 17, 1992, p.71.
Young African-American Pianist Thrills Audiences Nation Wide. Columbus Times. February 14, 1995, p. D1.
Bargreen, Melinda. "In concerts, sometimes more is less." Seattle Times, 4/25/97.
Barron, James. ON TOUR WITH: Awadagin Pratt; Knowing What It Means to Solo. New York Times, February 16, 1995, p.C1.
Behrens, David. "Fast track is home to young piano star." Newsday, 11/10/95, p. B23.
Benke, Richard. The versatile musician. The Age (AP), 4/4/2000.
Bledsoe, Wayne. Passionate performances mark Pratt's work. Knoxville News-Sentinel, 9/14/97, p. T3.
Chang, Yahlin. The piano man's not with a band: in every way, Awadagin Pratt defies stereotype. Newsweek. November 25, 1996, p. 79C.
Conrad, Willa J., "Artful Awadagin: Pratt strikes an original chord in the precise world of classical piano", Charlotte Observer, October 1, 1995
Crean, Elisabeth A., "He's way beyond Normal: Pianist Awadagin Pratt plays on an extraordinary plane", Honolulu Star-Bulletin, May 9, 1996
Delatiner, Barbara. Unconventional Pianist Takes Spotlight. The New York Times, September 4, 1994, p. 22
Dollar, Steve. Classical COOL Awadagin Pratt doesn't fit image of concert pianist, but it's results that count.Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 1/11/93, p.C1.
Fortmeyer, Russell. "Pianist has eccentric style" Kansas State Collegian, 4/28/95.
Friedman, Milton. "Classical Corner: Pianist Awadagin Pratt." Music Alive, February 1998, p.2
Giuliano, Mike. Pratt Pauses Briefly to Give Local Concert, Johns Hopkins Gazette, May 1, 1995.
Gladstone, Valerie. Pratt's Triple Threat, New York Sun, 9/24/2007
Goodman, Peter.The pianist from central casting he's not. But Awadagin Pratt goes his own way, and it's paying off. Newsday, 1/9/94, p. 10 (Fanfare)
Gunther, Lucy Neilan. "Awadagin Pratt rewards concert-goers with virtuosity." Virgin Islands Business Journal, 1/31/97.
Hale, David. "Young pianist has musical and visual flair." Fresno Bee, 3/30/97, p. H3.
Haynes, Karima.1992-2042; 50 Leaders Of Tomorrow . Ebony, November, 1992, p. 216.
Hefner, David. "A mother enjoys life's sweet song; her son won fame on piano, daughter has success on two 'courts'." Tennessean, 5/28/97, p. 1B.
Hutton, Mary Ellyn. "CCM pianist broke out of 'cookie-cutter' mold". The Cincinnati Post, 9/13/2007
Hutton, Mary Ellyn. "Awadagin Pratt Introduces Tüür's Piano Concerto". Music in Cincinnati, 5/13/2011
Karlovits, Bob. Playing for keeps: For pianist Awadagin Pratt, education is key. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 1/21/1999.
Keston, Nori. Awadagin Pratt's quiet storm. Baltimore Sun, May 5, 1994, p.27A
LaFave, Kenneth. "Longhair music with a twist; Pratt brings piano, dreadlocks to town." Arizona Republic/Phoenix Gazette, 7/26/96, p. D1.
Leukart, Hank. "Pratt, piano flair come to the Hop." The Dartmouth, 2/17/98.
McBride Smith, Scott. "An American Original." Piano & Keyboard, May/June 1999, p.24
McDaniel, Sharon. Awadagin Pratt: Classical Artistry in an Unconventional Key . about...time Magazine, June 30, 1995, p.15.
- Classical Recordings: Awadagin Pratt, Memorably. Washington Post, May 8, 1994, p. G10
- The Keys to Success; Concert Pianist Displays Just One of His Talents.Washington Post, May 14, 1993, p. B2.
Mitchell, Melissa. "Key Player: The Alumni Interview." Illinois Alumni, January/February 2003.
Morin, Alexander. Awadagin Pratt [review of "A Long Way from Normal"]. American Record Guide, September, 1994, p.242
Nance, Kevin."Pianist casual about appearance but not his music." Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/1/96.
Phillips, Chrissie. Pianist Pratt Relies on Talent not Tuxedo. The Argus, 10/27/98.
Rhein, John von. Triple threat: Awadagin Pratt masters the piano, violin and baton. Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1992, p. C20.
Robinson, Robin P. Roll Over Beethoven, This New Guy Is Sound. Emerge, 2/28/95, p. 72
Rosenberg, Donald. "Judges of notes." Plain Dealer, 8/3/97, p.11
Rowe, Georgia. Pratt strives to express composer's meaning. San Jose Mercury News, 10/18/2000.
Serinus, Jason V.
- Interview: Pianist Awadagin Pratt. Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, May 2003
- "Liberated: Awadagin Pratt plays Beethoven at the Bushnell". Preview Connecticut, March 2003
Shepard, T. Brooks. Classical Romance from Awadagin Pratt. American Visions, Feb-March, 1998.
Sheppard, Jo. An Interview with Awadagin Pratt. MODEWeekly.com, June 1999.
Steinberg, David. "Piano whiz kid poised for discovery at opener." Albuquerque Journal, 9/17/95, p.D1.
Teachout, Terry. "You can't hear the hair: Classical pianist Awadagin Pratt dresses down and plays up", Mirabella Magazine, January 1995.
Thomas, Don. Concert Pianist: Pratt's Dreadlocks Are Philharmonic Bound. The New York Beacon, February 24, 1995, p. 26.
WGUC 90.9 FM Audio Profile of Awadagin Pratt
- An extravagant talent.Baltimore Sun, 1/2/94, p. 7 (Mag.)
- For pianist Pratt, the student has now become the master. Baltimore Sun, 5/3/95, p. 1D.