Pianist Awadagin Pratt to inaugurate Coastal Concerts’ 20th anniversary season


On Oct. 20, pianist Awadagin (pronounced “ah-wah-dodge-in”) Pratt will return to the Coastal Concerts stage to inaugurate CoCo’s 20th anniversary season. Pratt appeared previously in a 2015 performance. On Oct. 20 at 7 p.m., Pratt will appear at Bethel UMC Hall, at 4th and Market Streets in Lewes, playing works of classical masters Brahms, Beethoven and Franck, along with a contemporary work of composer Lera Auerbach.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pratt began piano at the age of 6. Three years later, when the family moved to Normal, Ill., he began the study of violin. At the age of 16, he entered the University of Illinois, studying piano, violin and conducting.

He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he was the first student to earn diplomas in all three disciplines. Recently, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins in recognition of that achievement.

Pratt has performed with many orchestras since his debut with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center in 1994, and has won numerous awards for his achievements, among them the Naumburg International Piano Competition and an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Winning the Naumburg prize in 1992, the first African-American to do so, launched Pratt into a performance schedule with 40 to 50 concerts in the year of the award and 70 the following year. Since then, he has performed with nearly every major orchestra in the country, at the Clinton and Obama White Houses, and on Sesame Street.

Also an experienced conductor, Pratt has conducted programs with the Toledo, New Mexico, Vancouver WA, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe and Prince George County symphonies, the Northwest Sinfonietta, the Concertante di Chicago and several orchestras in Japan.

Pratt participates in numerous residency and outreach activities, including master classes, children’s recitals, play/talk demonstrations and Q-and-A sessions for students of all ages. He is also frequently invited to participate on competition juries, such as the Rubenstein International Piano Master Competition in Israel, the Cleveland International Piano Competition, the Minnesota e-Competition, the Unisa International Piano Competition and the International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz in the Ukraine.

Pratt’s recordings for Angel/EMI include “A Long Way From Normal,” an all-Beethoven sonata CD, “Live From South Africa,” “Transformations” and an all-Bach disc with the St, Lawrence String Quartet. His most recent recordings are the Brahms sonatas for cello and piano with Zuill Bailey for Telarc and a recording of the music of Judith Lang Zaimont with the Harlem Quartet for Navona Records.

Pratt is currently professor of piano at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati and continues to give up to 30 performances a year throughout the United States and abroad. He has served as the artistic director of the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati and currently serves in that capacity for the Art of the Piano Festival at CCM.

In its 50th anniversary issue, Ebony magazine named Pratt one of 50 “Leaders of Tomorrow.” In his private life, Pratt resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife and child.

Tickets to the Oct. 20 concert cost $35, with free admission for those 18 or younger and an accompanying adult. Discounted tickets are available at $10 for students 19 or older, and for active-duty and retired career military personnel. Valid IDs are required for student and military discounts.

For additional information about Coastal Concerts, this season’s concerts, volunteer opportunities and to purchase tickets, visit www.coastalconcerts.org or call 1-888-212-6458.