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*Awadagin Pratt was born on this date in 1966. He is a Black classical concert artist and pianist.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Awadagin Pratt began studying piano at six. Three years later, having moved to Normal, Illinois, he also began studying violin. At 16, he entered the University of Illinois, where he studied piano, violin, and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he became the first student in the school's history to receive diplomas in three performance areas. In 1992, Pratt won the Naumburg International Piano Competition and two years later was awarded a 1994 Avery Fisher Career Grant.
He has played numerous recitals throughout the U.S., including performances in New York at Lincoln Center, Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center, Los Angeles at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and Chicago at Orchestra Hall. His many orchestral performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Pittsburgh, St. Louis, National, Detroit, and New Jersey symphonies. Major summer festival engagements include the Ravinia, Blossom, Wolftrap, Caramoor, and Aspen festivals, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Tokyo.
Pratt is also the Artistic Director of the Next Generation Festival, a two-week chamber music festival in Lancaster, PA. Recent appearances include return recital engagements at the Kennedy Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and repeat appearances with the orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Seattle, Colorado, Kansas City, Syracuse, New Mexico, and Toledo. He also appeared with cellist Zuill Bailey in duo recitals throughout the US. Increasingly active as a conductor, Pratt has participated in the American Symphony Orchestra League and Conductor’s Guild workshops. He has performed on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Sesame Street, CBS Sunday Morning, and on PBS's "Live from the Kennedy Center - A Salute to Slava."
He also performed twice at the White House at the invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton. In September 1993, Mr. Pratt signed an exclusive recording contract with Angel/EMI. His debut album, A Long Way From Normal, was released in 1994. A great favorite on college and university performing arts series and a strong advocate of art education, Awadagin Pratt participates in numerous residency and outreach activities wherever he appears; these activities may include masterclasses, children’s recitals, play/talk demonstrations, and question/answer sessions for students of all ages. Internationally, he made his debut appearances in Japan in the fall of 1996 on a tour that included recitals in Osaka and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and performance with the Tokyo Philharmonic. He returned to Japan in 1997, 1999, and 2000 to play recitals in the major cities and conduct a concert in Tokyo’s Sumida Triphony Hall.
In Europe, he participated in 1994, 1996, and 2000 Kammermusikpodium Festival in Braunschweig, Germany, and performed in Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Israel, and South Africa. He was chosen as a participant at the National Conducting Institute in 2001, where he worked closely with Leonard Slatkin and conducted the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. He has also conducted the Toledo, New Mexico, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe, and Prince George County symphonies, Concertante di Chicago, and two orchestras in Japan. Pratt has been the subject of numerous articles in the national press, including Newsweek, People Magazine, USA Weekend, New York Newsday, Emerge, and Mirabella.
He was named one of the 50 Leaders of Tomorrow in Ebony Magazine's special 50th-anniversary issue and featured on National Public Radio's Performance Today and Weekend Edition. Subsequent recital discs include an all-Beethoven Sonata CD, Live from South Africa, and Transformations. His most recent Angel/EMI recording is an all-Bach disc with the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Beginning in September 2004. Awadagin Pratt is an Assistant Professor of Piano and Artist in Residence at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.