Piano Monday: Playing Outside the Box
Piano Monday presents Victor Prieto, Berklee alumnus and virtuoso accordion player, performing with Berklee students. Prieto will give a pre-concert presentation on creativity and "playing outside the box."
Victor Prieto is a native of Galicia, Spain, born in the town of Orense in 1975. At the age of nine Prieto was encouraged by his mother to study the accordion—an instrument deeply ingrained in Galician folklore. While studying classical accordion at the Orense Conservatory, Prieto understood the immense musical potential of his instrument and branched out from the classical education by concurrently taking harmony, arrangement, and improvisation classes at Estudio Escola de Música (Santiago de Compostela, Spain). In 1998 he received a scholarship from Berklee, where he majored in performance under the direction of Joanne Brackeen. Berklee, where he was the only student to date to specialize in accordion, did not offer any classes focusing on accordion. Uninhibited by these circumstances Prieto created his own study program, applying the expertise offered by educators at Berklee to the accordion.
Today Prieto is revolutionizing the way that the accordion is played, by creating new sounds and techniques for this instrument. His music embraces jazz, tango, classical, and Celtic roots, enriched with new rhythms and colors. He is the creator of a new technique for the accordion called "chord approach on both hands," which creates rich and elaborate harmonies.
In 2002 Prieto moved to New York, where he quickly established himself as one of the most prolific and versatile accordionists on the jazz scene. As a leader, he has performed at many prestigious venues and events such as the Berklee Performance Center, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Blue Note New York, New Jersey Performance Art Center, Three Rivers Musical Festival, Williamsburg Jazz Festival, and Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center.
Prieto has performed and recorded with Yo-Yo Ma (Songs of Joy and Peace), Arturo O'Farrill Latin Jazz Orchestra, Billy Hart, Jeff Ballard, Paquito D'Rivera, Matt Wilson, Donny McCaslin, and Lionel Louke, among others, and is involved in projects such as the Maria Schneider Orchestra and Emilio Solla's Tango Jazz Conspiracy.
He teaches master classes in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and the U.S. and has headed the jazz accordion studies at the Brooklyn Conservatory (2003–2004). He is a recipient of numerous awards and prizes for excellence in accordion performance and composition. Among them are the Creative Performer award from the Spanish Association of Artists and Performers and the first prize at CMZK's Concourse of Composition (Argentina).
Prieto now lives in New York, dividing his time between performing, teaching, and recording. He has recently introduced his third recording on Cheekus Music.