Fred Hersch

Tuesday / March 3, 2009 / 3:00 p.m.
David Friend Recital Hall
921 Boylston Street
United States

Pianist and composer Fred Hersch has earned his place among the foremost jazz artists and creative musicians in the world today. He is widely recognized for his ability to create a unique body of original works while reinventing the standard jazz repertoire—investing time-tested classics with keen insight, fresh ideas, and extraordinary technique. His many accomplishments include three Grammy nominations, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer, and six composition residencies at the MacDowell Colony.

After graduating from the New England Conservatory in 1977, Hersch relocated to New York City and quickly became one of the most in-demand pianists in town. He has worked extensively with such jazz masters as bassists Sam Jones and Charlie Haden; guitarist Bill Frisell; flugelhornist Art Farmer; harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans; saxophonists Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, and Jane Ira Bloom; and vibraphonist Gary Burton.

Hersch was the first pianist to play an entire week solo at the Village Vanguard. His most recent recording, the trio CD Night and the Music, was released in May 2007.

His career as a performer has been greatly enhanced by his composing activities. He recently created Leaves of Grass (Palmetto Records), a large-scale setting of Walt Whitman's poetry; the work was presented in March 2005 in a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall. Hersch has collaborated with pianists Jeffrey Kahane and Christopher O'Riley; sopranos Renée Fleming, Audra McDonald, and Dawn Upshaw; and violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

Hersch has been a passionate spokesman and fundraiser for AIDS services and education agencies, producing and performing on recordings and concerts for the charities Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS that have raised over $200,000 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. A committed educator, Hersch was a faculty member at the New England Conservatory for 10 years. He is currently a visiting lecturer at Princeton University.