Danilo Pérez Named UNESCO Artist for Peace

November 20, 2012
Press release
Danilo Pérez


Danilo Pérez, renowned pianist and artistic director of Berklee College of Music's Global Jazz Institute, was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace at a ceremony held today in Paris, France. The U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization describes Artists for Peace as "internationally renowned personalities who use their influence, charisma, and prestige to help promote UNESCO's message."

Pérez is a Grammy-winner whose distinctive blend of Pan-American jazz (covering the music of the Americas, folkloric, and world music) has won critical acclaim and loyal audiences around the globe. His trio received a Grammy nomination in 2011 for Best Instrumental Jazz Album, and for the past 12 years, Pérez has held the piano chair in the Wayne Shorter Quartet. 

In addition to his performing career, Pérez directs the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, where he developed an innovative educational curriculum based on his concept of "interconnective learning." This concept creates opportunities for students to experience and practice social change through music. He presides over the Danilo Pérez Foundation in his native country of Panama, which provides outreach music programs to children of extreme poverty, and is the artistic director of the Panama Jazz Festival. 

Born in Panama, Pérez started his musical studies with his father, a bandleader and singer. By age 10, he was studying the European classical piano repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama, and at 12, he was working as a professional musician in salsa bands and composing and arranging for Latin American singers. Since the late '80s, he has toured and/or recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Steve Lacy, Jack DeJohnette, Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, Gary Burton, and others. Pérez is also a prolific composer who has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Chicago Jazz Festival.