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The Solo Jazz Piano Fest celebrates the donation to the Vermont Jazz Center of a Steinway grand piano. Piano technician Bill Ballard rebuilt the instrument.

The Arts

Jazz Center to present Solo Piano Fest

Festival celebrates acquisition, restoration of Steinway grand piano

Tickets for the VJC Solo Jazz Piano Fest on April 7 and 8 at the Center (72 Cotton Mill Hill, Brattleboro) are $80 for all events; $20 per concert for the featured performances on Friday or Saturday; $50 ($30 each for groups of five or more) for Saturday’s daytime concerts and educational offerings (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Educational discounts available. Tickets are available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, at, or by calling 802-254-9088, ext. 1.

BRATTLEBORO—On April 7 and 8, the Vermont Jazz Center will present a music festival including eight concerts and five educational presentations on solo jazz piano.

The Solo Jazz Piano Fest is a celebration of the Steinway D, nine-foot concert grand piano given to the Center by the McKenzie Family Charitable Trust and rebuilt by piano technician Bill Ballard.

The Center is now the only venue in New England that supports a festival devoted exclusively to the art of solo jazz-piano performance.

Pianists this weekend include Stanley Cowell, Luis Perdomo, Amina Figarova, Miro Sprague, and Yoko Miwa as well as local performers Franz Robert, Alki Steriopoulos, and Vermont Jazz Center Director Eugene Uman.

The headliner, Stanley Cowell, one of the undisputed masters of his generation, is no stranger to solo piano. In a press release, the Center describes his performance on Live at Maybeck Recital Hall as “a textbook example of how to create excitement by changing keys and textures within the course of one tune and how to create a magnificent arc over the course of a complete set.”

Venezuelan-born pianist Luis Perdomo has appeared on more than 200 recordings and has become a first-class sideman for many great musicians. He was a member of Ravi Coltrane’s Quartet for 10 years and is a founding member of the Miguel Zenon Quartet.

Amina Figarova was born in Azerbaijan, where she trained classically, and then moved to the Netherlands to study at the Rotterdam Conservatory. She moved to the U.S. to focus on jazz studies and composition at Berklee College of Music. She has released 13 albums.

Originally from Kobe, Japan, Yoko Miwa entered and won a contest for a full scholarship at Berklee School of Music. She is now an associate professor there and performs with her own trio.

Miro Sprague, a New York City–based pianist, was a semifinalist in the 2015 Montreux Jazz Festival Piano Competition. He has released four studio albums as a leader and has also performed with vocalists Sheila Jordan, Jane Monheit, and Samirah Evans.

Alki Steriopoulos, formerly based in Brattleboro, now performs and composes from Florida. He was composer in residence at La Mama and served as assistant music director for PBS’s Great Performances series on Gershwin.

Franz Robert, a 19-year-old pianist who started in his early teens as a church organist and pianist, became enamored with jazz and improvisation. He composed and arranged all of the music for his first album, On Putney Mountain. A devotee of Bach and Haydn, he is now preparing a fully memorized concert of solo classical piano music to be held at the Center.

Uman is the director of the Vermont Jazz Center, where he organizes educational programs, curates concerts, and oversees community outreach. He is also an adjunct professor at Amherst College.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #402 (Wednesday, April 5, 2017).

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