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Joshua Pierce

JOSHUA PIERCE is considered one of the most uniquely gifted and compelling virtuosi of our time. His on-going series of recordings on MSR Classics of major works from the great composers of Mozart and Beethoven's day to the masterpieces of Schubert; and onward to the romantic world of Liszt and Brahms form an extraordinary testimony to the mastery and enormous range of an artist who is also known for his performances of twentieth century repertoire from Gershwin to Cage and beyond. This huge range and varied repertoire - encompassing the standard repertoire, contemporary work and rediscovered masterpieces of the past - is considered unique among contemporary pianists.

(To quote Robert D. Cummings of classical Net: "Joshua Pierce possesses an arsenal of pianistic skills that can astonish the ear and instruct the mind.")

Mr. Pierce was born in New York City to a famous theatrical family. In the 1960's he played for Samuel Chotzinoff, head of the music department at NBC and was immediately enrolled on scholarship in the Pre-College Division at the Juilliard School. In 1964 he won a full scholarship to attend classes at the Congregation of The Arts Summer Music Festival at Dartmouth College. There he studied and attended the master classes by Walter Piston, Vincent Persichetti, Carlos Chavez and Henry Cowell. He went on to study at the Cleveland Institute, Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. While in Cleveland, he won the Victor Babin Award and served as pianist for the vocal art classes of New York Metropolitan Opera star: Eleanor Steber. His teachers have included Arthur Loesser, Victor Babin, Robert Goldsand and Dorothy Taubman.

Mr. Pierce has been heard throughout the world in many of the most prestigious music centers and has performed with major orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic; The Philharmonia; Luxembourg Radio Symphony; Chicago Sinfonietta; Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York; Utah, Missouri and San Antonio Symphony Orchestras; Mexico City Philharmonic; Orchestra Sinfonica Nacional (South American Debut / Municipal Teatro / Lima, Peru in Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto); Orchestra Philharmonic of Jalisco; Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; RAI Orchestra Rome; Sinfonetta of Zilina; Orchestra of Polish Radio & Television; Czech National Symphony; Slovak National Symphony; Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic; Cappella Istropolitana; Slovak State Philharmonic, Czech Radio Symphony; Moravian Philharmonic, and the Moscow State Philharmonic. In 1993, he made an exciting debut in Liszt's Piano Concerto No.1 with the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow. With the Slovak Radio Symphony of Bratislava on Slovak Television (STV2), November 22, 2001, Pierce gave the first performance in Eastern Europe of the complete and restored Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue in an all-Gershwin concert at the Reduta. His performances of the restored Rhapsody together with Gershwin's Concerto in F was televised in 19 countries over PRI and the EBU (European Broadcast Union) on December 25, 2001.

Pierce has collaborated in countless performances throughout the world, including the John Cage Musicircus Memorial Concert at Symphony Space in New York; Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago; DANA Concert Series in Ohio; Summit Music Festival, Purchase; Amherst International Music Festival and New York and Boston Microfest concerts; the Trenton Avant-Garde Festival; the International Festival of Contemporary Music / Seattle, Washington (where he gave the Seattle premiere of the Shostakovich Viola Sonata with violist Paul Colletti); the International Piano Festival/Williams College, Williamstown, MA; ISCM Festivals in Zurich, Kazan and Russia; the ISCM Europe-Asia 2000; The Alternativa Festival and Festival of Russian Composers' Union Music Series in Moscow; the Futurismo & Futurismi Festival/ Venice, Italy; Barbican Centre and Royal Festival Hall in London; Victoria Hall, Geneva, the Bergen International Music Festival, Norway, Reykjavik, Iceland, the Sejong Center For the Performing Arts, Seoul Opera House, Busan Culture Centre, etc. His NY performances include Alice Tully Hall, 92nd St. Y, Symphony Space, Steinway Hall, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, Roulette, The Kitchen, The Knitting Factory, The Quaker Meeting House, The Old Stone House Museum and Weill Recital Hall. He has also appeared and given master classes at NYU, Brooklyn College, Queens College, Columbia University; the State University of New York at Purchase and Stony Brook; William Patterson University; Kean University; Washington and Lee University; Youngstown University; Williams College; University of West Virginia at Morgantown; University of Pittsburgh; University of Maryland; Western Reserve Academy, Ohio; Bucknell University; Music Mountain Chamber Music Festival, and at the Phillips Collection, Washington DC. In the United States, he has been heard on such nationally syndicated radio programs as Morning Pro Musica/ WGBH, WCRB/Boston; WFMT/Chicago, WQED/Pittsburgh, WTMI/Miami, WQXR's First Hearing, WNYC, WKCR, WBAI, WFUV in New York; John Schaefer's New Sounds, Peter Schickele's Schickele Mix, National Pubic Radio's All Things Considered and David Dubal's The American Century and Reflections from the Keyboard. European broadcasts have included; Slovenian Television & Radio, Netherlands Radio, Radio Luxembourg. Russia's Radio 'Volga'. Radio 'PULS', Radio 'RUSSIA' and Radio BIM/Republic of Tartarstan, Slovak Television (STV2), Zurich Radio, Radio France, Bergen Radio, MBC Radio and Television of South Korea as well as French and German 'ARTE' Television.

Mr. Pierce is also a highly regarded chamber music player having studied with the cellists Bernard Greenhouse of the Beaux Arts Trio and Jascha Silberstein, formerly of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as well as with the pianists Artur Balsam and Joseph Zeiger. He has performed with Russia's Leontovich String Quartet, the Pierce-Aomori Duo, The New York Empire Trio, Chamber Players International and with violinist Erick Friedman, Misha Vitenson and Julianne Klopotic, cellist Jeffrey Solow, Lawrence Zoernig and Daniel Barrett. His many chamber music performances include works by Beethoven, Brahms, Chausson, Dvorak, Glinka, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Schubert and Schumann.

Mr. Pierce's 30-year association and work with the late pioneering composer/innovator, John Cage is legendary. Pierce’s now famous landmark recordings on the WERGO Critical Edition Series: John Cage, Works for Piano and Prepared Piano Volumes I, II, III, IV, V.  contains major compositions from the 1940’s and 50’s - many recorded for the first time. Pierce was awarded the coveted Prieses der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (1991) for Vol. III in this remarkable series. Throughout his career, Mr. Pierce has performed Cage’s Sonatas & Interludes over 28 times including performances in Eastern Europe, Russia and in South Korea. In 1994, together with the Dancer/Choreographer Sin Cha Hong, they presented 50th anniversary performances of Four Walls at Anthology Film Archives in New York as well as on a follow-up 10-Concert tour of South Korea. Mr. Pierce has also done several recordings of Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano: for Wergo, National Public Radio (in honor of John Cage’s 70th birthday), Sony Classical, ANTS Records (Rome, Italy) and SoLyd Recordings (A “Live” First Performance in Moscow/Russia, April 22, 2000) as well as first recordings of Piano Sextet (Prelude in A minor), Mysterious Adventure, Daughters of the Lonesome Isle, The Perilous Night The Seasons, Music for Amplified Toy Piano, Music Walk, Jazz Study, Two Pieces for Piano (1935/rev.1974), Three Easy Pieces for Piano (1933), Three Early Songs for Voice and Piano (1933), Metamorphosis, Primitive, Quest, Our Spring Will Come, In the Name of the Holocaust, Bacchanale, Root Of An Unfocus, Tossed As It Is Untroubled, For MC and DT, Two Pastorales, Seven Haiku, She Is Asleep, Waiting and Ophelia, as well as A Book of Music for two prepared pianos with pianist Maro Ajemian. David Hurwitz of Fanfare has stated: "…Joshua Pierce is the greatest living exponent of Sonatas & Interludes for Prepared Piano " and Constin Cazaban of Monde Music (Paris) writes: "It is necessary to have a pianist of Joshua Pierce's stature to clearly bring out all the nuances and subtle differences, so inherent in this music - gives evidence to his creative and masterly approach." His performances are also featured in two John Cage Documentaries: John Cage/Man & Myth by Mitch Corber as well as The Revenge of the Dead Indians: In Memoriam John Cage by Henning Lohner. His other recorded performances of John Cage, Charles Ives and Ivan Wyschnegradsky for SoLyd Records/Moscow, Russia is titled Joshua Pierce: Live at the Dom/Alternativa Festival 2000 (SLR 0303). This historical CD has been officially acknowledged as the first “live” performance and recording by a western artist in Post-Soviet Russia.

As a prolific recording artist, Joshua Pierce has recorded over 200 works on more than 60 discs for such labels as: MSR Classics, Albany, Carlton Classics, EMI Classics, Fanfare, Kleos, Koch International, Mastersound, MMC, PITCH, Premiere, Pro Arte, Sony Classical, Phoenix, Vox, and Varèse Sarabande. They include familiar and lesser-known concerted works by Richard Addinsell, J.S. Bach, Ernest Bloch, Benjamin Britten, Chopin, Czerny, Reinecke, Weber, Gerald Finzi, Liszt, Mozart, Milhaud, Duke Ellington, Hindemith, Franck, Litolff, Casella, Respighi, Tschaikovsky, Khachaturian, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Saint-Saens, Paul Turok and Richard Strauss. Pierce has also recorded the complete piano concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Gershwin and Liszt to great critical praise. His recording of the Three Liszt Piano Concertos, Totentanz, Malediction, Spanish Rhapsody, etc. was nominated for the 23rd International "F. Liszt" Record Grand Prix Du Disque by the National Cultual Foundation of Hungary. Joshua Pierce has a multitude of Grammy Award nominations to his credit, the Diapason Award (France); Fono Forum Award (Germany), and citations of excellence from such American publications as Downbeat Magazine (Four Stars – Highest Rating), CD Review ("10-10" Highest Rating), Billboard, Cashbox, Turok's Choice, Keyboard Magazine, Heavy Metal and Jazzmania. He has a long list of outstanding reviews from a variety of notable American and international publications, including the New York Times, New York Concert Review, The New Yorker, Yale Review, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times, Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Fanfare, American Record Guide, Sequenza 21, Gramophone, The Strad. BBC Music Magazine, The Guardian, Pianoforte, The Wire, UK Music Web, Music & Vision, the London Telegraph, Music Web International, Etude Reveu (Paris), Rossiyskaya Muzal'naya Gazeta (Moscow) among others. With his two-piano partner Dorothy Jonas of the renown Duo: Pierce & Jonas, they have concertized internationally and have premiered and recorded concertos by such highly regarded American and European composers as Nikolai Lopatnikoff, Arthur Benjamin, Alexander Tansman, Francis Poulenc, Pierre Max Dubois, Francisco Malipiero, Walter Piston, Paul Creston, Morton Gould, William Quincy Porter, and Roy Harris; including the European premier of Robert Starer's Two Piano Concerto with Vladimir Valek and the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra at Smetana Hall/Prague. Their MSR Classics recording (MS 1330) of both Mendelssohn two piano concertos has been featured in the American PBS/NOVA Documentary:"The Learning Curve". Their critically acclaimed recording of the complete works for two-pianos by Mozart is available on MSR 1390

In the spring of 2003, Pierce became the only pianist, other than the composer Michael Harrison, to perform "Revelation", with three world premiere performances of the work's newly scored version at the American Festival of Microtonal Music Series in New York City. His May 2003 webcast performance won the Grand Prize at the IBLA International Competition for Composers in 2004. In 2005 he premiered the 95-minute full version at Merkin Hall in New York City and on the West Coast in Los Angeles, both to outstanding critical success. He also gave the European premiere of this work in Wroclaw, Poland on February 19, 2007. In May, 2007 Pierce was the assistant music director, working with conductor Victoria Bond, for the American premiere of the new opera "The True Last Words of Dutch Schultz by composer Eric Salzman and librettist Valeria Vasilevski at Symphony Space's Wall-to-Wall Opera Festival. His recent performances and work with the Japanese clarinetist Hideaki Aomori include new recordings of the two Brahms Clarinet Sonatas Op. 120, the Felix Draeseke Sonata Op. 38 as well as Trios by Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Brahms. In 2012, Mr. Pierce along with the Soprano Sherry Overholt received three PSC-CUNY Research Award Grants as well as a major award from the Aaron Copland Fund For Music, Inc. for their MSR recording of the Song Cycle "Harmonium" by the American composer Vincent Persichetti based on poetry by Wallace Stevens. His recent orchestral recordings include the Bach f minor keyboard concerto (BWV 1056), the Haydn D Major (Hob.XVIII:II); Mendelssohn's Concerto in A minor for Piano and Strings and the Piano Concerto in C# minor, Op. 30 by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Mr. Pierce is a Board Member and Official Pianist of the American Festival of MicroTonal Music (AFMM), and has served as a judge for many regional and international music competitions including the IBLA International Competition (2002 & 2003), the American Chamber Orchestra (2012) and the Center for Contemporary Opera. He has also served on the Board of the International Fulbright Commission. He is listed in World Wide Who's Who and is a recipient of that publication's Lifetime Achievement Award.

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