Awadagin Pratt

Concert Pianist, Recording Artist, Conductor, and Music Educator

Awardagin Pratt is an acclaimed concert pianist, violinist, recording artist, conductor, and music professor.  In concert he has appeared with major orchestras in the U.S., Europe, and Japan performing at the major concert halls and summer music festivals.  As a solo recording artist he has released 8 CDs on EMI, Capitol, Angel, Decca, and Navona.  His recent 2011 releases are “Brahms Works for Cello and Piano” with cellist Zuill Bailey on Telarc and “Zaimont: Eternal Evolution” with the Harlem Quartet on Navona.  He has conducted orchestra in the U.S and Japan and serves as artistic director of the Next Generation Festival.  Mr. Pratt is Assistant Professor of Piano and Artist in Residence at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.  During his concert tours Pratt also conducts in the cities that he visits master classes, children's recitals, play/talk demonstrations and question/answer sessions for students of all ages. 

Pratt has been profiled in Newsweek, People Magazine New York Newsday, and Ebony Magazine.  He has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Sesame Street, CBS Sunday Morning, and PBS's "Live from the Kennedy Center. He has at the White House at the invitation of Presidents Clinton and Obama.  He his known for his unconventional signature appearance dressed casually with dreadlock playing on a low bench which is intended to make classical music less intimidating.  He is acclaimed for his repertoire of piano works by Bach, Beethoven, Grieg, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.

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.

Beginnings

Awadagin Pratt was born in Pittsburgh on March 6, 1966.  He began studying piano at age six and violin at age nine.  His parents moved the family to Normal Illinois when they both were hired by the Illinois State University in 1975.  Theodore Pratt became a professor of physics and Mildred Pratt became a professor of social work   Awadagin became a talented tennis player and was offered sports scholarships to several schools.  He turned down those scholarships to enroll at the Illinois State University at age sixteen majoring in piano, violin, and conducting.  He transferred to the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore where he earned certificates in piano and violin and a graduate diploma in conducting. In 1992 he won the Naumburg International Piano Competition, becoming the first African-American pianist to win this prestigious award. After winning the Naumburg he became an in demand concert pianist giving fifty concert performances in 1992 and 70 performances in 1993.  IMG Artists became his management firm in 1993.  He made his debut his debut at Lincoln Center performing with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1994. 

In concert he has performed at the Lincoln Center, the White House, the Kennedy Center, LA’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  His orchestra performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and with the orchestras of St. Louis, Detroit, Minnesota, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Seattle, Colorado, Kansas City, Syracuse, New Mexico and Toledo.  He has performed at the major summer festivals including Ravinia, Blossom, Wolftrap, Caramoor, Aspen, the Hollywood Bowl and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Tokyo.  Touring with cellist Zuill Bailey they have performed duo recitals throughout the US. 

Pratt made his international debut touring Japan in the fall of 1996 with recitals in Osaka and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and a performance with the Tokyo Philharmonic. He returned to Japan in 1997, 1999, and 2000 for more recitals and to conduct a concert in Tokyo’s Sumida Triphony Hall. He performed at the Kammermusikpodium Festival in Braunschweig, Germany in the 1994, 1996 and 2000, and has performed in Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Israel and South Africa. 

Pratt released his first album, “A Long Way From Normal” on EPIC in 1994.  He also released “World Business Class: The Classical Experience” on Capital in 1994.  On EMI he also released his recital disc of sonatas “Beethoven: Piano Sonatas” (1996), and “Awadagin Pratt Plays Franck; Bach; Rachmaninov” (1997).  “Live from South Africa” recorded in Capetown was released in 1997 on EMI Classics.  “Transformations”, a recording of Bach pieces with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, was released on Angel/EMI Records in 1999.  His 2011 releases are “Brahms Works for Cello and Piano” with Zuill Bailey on Telarc and a recording of the music of Judith Lang Zaimont with the Harlem Quartet for Navona Records. 

Working as a conductor Mr. Pratt has directed the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, two orchestras in Japan, and symphonies in Chicago, Toledo, New Mexico, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe and Prince George County.  He also serves as the Artistic Director of the Next Generation Festival, a two-week chamber music festival in Lancaster, PA.  In the fall of 2004 Mr. Pratt became an Assistant Professor of Piano and Artist in Residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.  He was honored for his work in classical music with a Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins Peabody Conservatory.