New Jazz Piano Works for Ivan Ilic at Carnegie

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Paris-based American pianist Ivan Ilic completes his critically acclaimed worldwide tour of mesmerizing piano recitals featuring young American composers. Ilic showcases the world premiere of The Story of Jazz by composer/music theorist Dmitri Tymoczko; the New York premiere of Bgi Wgi by Argentine-American composer Fernando Benadon; Afterglow by Keeril Makan, Assistant Professor of MIT; Reservoir by Donnacha Dennehy; and eight of Debussy's Preludes from Book 2.

Oscillating from an ebullient be-bop to a simple pentatonic melody, The Story of Jazz takes audiences on a journey of varying styles of jazz. Starting with an off-kilter oom-pah bass and ending with a toccata, The Story of Jazz imagines a sophisticated confrontation between the two central poles of contemporary jazz: 19th-century Romantic harmony and syncopated African rhythm. According to composer Dmitri Tymoczko, a professor at Princeton University, “the idea behind this premiere was to use jazz as an inspiration, rather than to produce a faithful documentary of the genre."

Both works by Keeril Makan and Fernando Benadon are their first attempts at composing for solo piano. As with many of his other works, Makan's Afterglow (2007) combines an exploration of the rich detail inherent in sound with an unmistakable visceral energy. Described as “mysterious and hypnotic" (Western Mail), Afterglow received its world premiere in October 2007 at the Welsh Museum of Modern Art in the United Kingdom. According to Makan, the piece"focuses on the resonance - the halo of sound - of the piano after Ilic strikes a note."

Makan's music has been championed by the Kronos Quartet and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. He was recently awarded a 2008 Rome Prize in composition. Strongly influenced by jazz, Benadon explores a series of rhythmic escapades in Bgi Wgi (2006). “I have always been fascinated by how jazz soloists weave their rhythms in and out of an underlying steady beat. Like boogie woogie piano playing, Ilic has to negotiate rapidly changing tempos in his right hand with his left hand's steady beat," says Benadon. Described as “engagingly forward" (New York Times), Benadon is a scholar of jazz theory and rhythm perception and is currently Assistant Professor of Music at American University.

Rounding out the program is Reservoir (2007) by post-minimalist Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy. Described as “viscerally thrilling" (New York Times), his electronic- and multimedia- soaked music has been performed by Bang on a Can All-Stars, London Sinfonietta, Prism Saxophone Quartet, and Jenny Lin, to name a few. Dennehy currently teaches music technology at Trinity College Dublin.

Ivan Ilic is internationally known for his “sheer depth and luxuriance of sound." A disciple of the legendary Francois-Rene Duchable, he took degrees in music and mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley before leaving for Paris with a Hertz Fellowship from the University. A few months later he was admitted to the Conservatoire Superieur de Paris, where he took a Premier Prix in piano performance. At age 20 he launched a solo recital career that has taken him throughout Europe and the US. Over 60 solo engagements for 2007 included the Phillips Collection (Washington DC), St George's Bristol, the John Field Room (Dublin), the Wales Millennium Centre (Cardiff), and festivals throughout Europe.

Since September, he has toured 30 concerts throughout Europe. This past December, Ilic gave his East Coast debut at Killian Hall at M.I.T, Cambridge, MA. His playing is often broadcast on television and radio in America, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Serbia. In 2006-07 he was a laureate of the Nadia Boulanger Foundation in Paris, and the city of Paris sponsored his last recording. His debut CD of Debussy's 24 Prludes will be released in October 2008 on the French label Paraty.

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