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Distinguished Pianists Awadagin Pratt and Michael Chertock Named to CCM's Faculty

Chair of the Piano Department Frank Weinstock to lead premier teaching ensemble.

Date: 7/8/2004 12:00:00 AM
By: Erin Fahey
Phone: (513) 556-2683
Other Contact: Sandi Holdheide
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-9484

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Douglas Lowry, dean of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Awadagin Pratt as Assistant Professor of Piano and Artist-in-Residence. In addition to this appointment, Michael Chertock has been named Assistant Professor of Piano and Frank Weinstock has been promoted to Chair of the Piano Department.

"Awadagin Pratt's performance and teaching expertise is international in stature. From his national television appearances to countless chamber music and guest artist engagements at the highest levels, he brings to CCM a breadth of artistry and insight that will, in addition to the appointment of the brilliant Michael Chertock, dramatize CCM's 'destination point status' for the best keyboard talent in the nation," said Lowry. "This has been an intense but rewarding few months in the piano area, having also been blessed with the very significant William D. Black Memorial Prize in Piano."

Frank Weinstock, Chair of the Piano Department, replaces the late William Black, who passed away in December. A well-respected faculty member, Black was recently honored with the creation of the William D. Black Memorial Prize in Piano, the first of its kind in the country. This prestigious award, along with the addition of Pratt and Chertock to an already outstanding piano faculty that includes Elizabeth and Eugene Pridonoff, James Tocco and J. Michelle Conda, places CCM in the upper echelon in piano training.

"CCM and its students are the beneficiaries of the fact that Pratt has now decided to begin passing his knowledge, perspective and experience on to younger people, and that he will be doing it here in Cincinnati," commented Weinstock. "I am tremendously excited about the new ideas he will be bringing to us."

Awadagin Pratt

Winner of the prestigious Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1992, Awadagin Pratt, 38, is an artist who challenges the classical music establishment. Throughout his childhood, Pratt devoted his time to piano, violin and tennis but eventually determined music to be his passion as he began college at age 16 at the University of Illinois. He then transferred to the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he was the first student to receive a performer's certificate in piano and violin as well as a graduate performance diploma in conducting. His win at the Naumburg Competition, where he was the first African-American classical instrumentalist to win first prize, skyrocketed his career and over the next few years he gave over 100 recitals including concerts in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In 1994 he was awarded the Avery Fisher Career Grant and also released his debut CD A Long Way From Normal, followed by Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Live From South Africa and Transformations. He also played piano on Terence Blanchard's soundtrack for The Caveman's Valentine, a film about a mentally ill classical pianist. He has performed worldwide in Japan, Germany, South Africa, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and Poland, as well as with the major symphony orchestras in the U.S. He has also performed on NPR's Performance Today and Weekend Edition, the Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America and Sesame Street. He was a featured soloist on PBS's Live from Kennedy Center - A Salute to Slava and performed twice at the White House during the Clinton administration for South African presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. He is Artistic Director of the Next Generation Festival and an advocate of arts education, actively participating in outreach activities involving master classes, recitals, demonstrations and talk back session for students of all ages. Increasingly active as a conductor, he participated in the American Symphony Orchestra League and Conductor's Guild workshops and has conducted the Toledo, New Mexico, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe and Prince George County symphonies.

"All artists have a responsibility to repay the generosity of their own teachers, and I feel privileged to be able to do that at such a wonderful institution as CCM," commented Pratt. "I look forward to my time in Cincinnati."

Michael Chertock

Michael Chertock, 36, received bachelor and master of music degrees from CCM where he studied piano with Clifford Herzer, Robert Weirich, Frank Weinstock and James Tocco. Locally he conducts the Blue Ash-Montgomery Symphony and is Artistic Director of the Peanut Butter & Jam Sessions for the Linton Chamber Music Series, an interactive music series geared toward children ages 2 to 5. He is member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic. As an orchestral soloist, he has worked with James Conlon, Jaime Laredo, Keith Lockhart, Erich Kunzel and Andrew Litton. Solo performances include the Philadelphia Orchestra, l'Orchestre Symphonique du Montreal, Toronto Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony, Utah Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony and the Dayton Philharmonic. He has given over 60 recitals throughout the U.S. including the Linton Chamber Music Series, Mayor's 801 Plum Series, Steans Institute of the Ravinia Festival and Grand Tetons Music Festival. For radio and TV, he has given recitals with Mark Oswald, Alyssa Park, Larry Combs, Eddie Daniels and Ricardo Morales-Matos. His recordings include Cinematic Piano, Chamber Music of Frank Proto, Palace of the Winds, Christmas at the Movies, Love at the Movies and CSO's Festival Prelude for Organ and Orchestra, on which he was the organ soloist. In 1991 he was awarded the silver medal at the World Piano Competition of the American Music Scholarship Association. Other awards include the 1989 Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition prize, 1993 St. Charles International Piano Competition grand prize, the 1988 and 90 winner of the CCM Concerto Competition and first prize in the 1990 Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn Competition. Before coming to CCM, he was a visiting professor at Miami University and an instructor at the Baldwin Piano Summer Music Program.

"I am looking forward to working with such a gifted body of students. The keyboard faculty are artists of rare distinction and it's a privilege to call them colleagues," stated Chertock. "The world class facilities and leadership of Dean Lowry make CCM the place to be."

Frank Weinstock

Teaching at CCM since 1980, Frank Weinstock is in demand as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician, and also teaches master classes and judges piano competitions. After his formal New York debut in 1977, he toured North America, Europe, Asia and South America. He has appeared with such conductors as Keith Lockhart, Erich Kunzel, Jesús López-Cobos, Gunther Schuller, Luthero Rodrigues and Jorge Mester, and as a chamber musician with the Tokyo String Quartet, Leonard Rose, Glenn Dicterow, Larry Combs, The Percussion Group Cincinnati, and with members of the Guarneri, LaSalle, Manhattan and Berkshire Quartets. Recently he was featured in Benjamin Saver's book The 48 Most Wanted Piano Teachers in the U.S. Former students, including Anton Nel, Michael Chertock and Franklin Larey, are prominent performers and teachers, recording for many prestigious labels and teaching at universities around the world. In the summers, he has taught and performed as member of the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and the Eastern Music Festival and at many others throughout the country. Before coming to Cincinnati, he taught piano at Princeton University. He also works as a software engineer, developing computer applications for the serious music performer and student. He is the creator and author of Cakewalk in Concert, published in 1998, and its "sequel" Home Concert, published by TimeWarp Technologies in 2000. This technology provides an automatic intelligent accompanist for a keyboard player, and has applications ranging from the elementary piano student to the professional pianist preparing a concerto performance, and even beyond the "classical" piano world.

"I very much regret that Bill Black, who served so capably as Chair for over five years, is no longer in that position. It has been a challenge to take over for him, and to deal with his death as well as the retirement of Richard Morris," continued Weinstock. "However, change brings opportunity, and I'm very excited about the direction the Department is now going, particularly with these significant hires. I think we now have a great faculty in place, one that I expect to be intact for many years to come."

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music is recognized both nationally and internationally as one of the leading conservatories of the performing arts and electronic media. CCM offers the benefit of a professional training conservatory within the setting of a comprehensive public university. The school's roster of eminent faculty regularly receives distinguished honors, and its alumni go on to notable success in the performing and media arts.

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