The Arts in Conversation
Reflections on Inspiration
Bruce Wolosoff performs the music from his new solo piano album "Memento" and discusses the inspirations behind the music.
photo credit: Tom Kochie
Sunday, March 5th at 4 pm, The Church, Sag Harbor
Thursday, March 16th at 7:30 pm, Greenwich House, New York City
BRUCE WOLOSOFF is a pianist and internationally performed composer of solo, chamber, and orchestral music. Lauded as “an authentic American voice” by critic Thomas Bohlert for his integration of classical, jazz, blues, and contemporary influences, Wolosoff often composes in response to visual art and through collaborations with leading artists across a variety of disciplines.
Recent projects include the recording “Paradise Found: Cello Music of Bruce Wolosoff” featuring performances by Mr. Wolosoff with cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio of the Eroica Trio, released on Avie Records (AV2492) in April 2022.
Wolosoff's previous collaboration with Ms. Sant'Ambrogio, a recording of Wolosoff’s “Concerto for Cello and Orchestra” with conductor Grzegorz Nowak and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, was a Billboard Top 10 best selling classical album. Critic Jerry Dubins of Fanfare Magazine described the concerto as one of “compelling beauty” that “can be declared an instant masterpiece.”
Other recent commissions include "Lacrymae” for cello choir for cellist Inbal Segev’s “20 for 2020” project released on Avie Records (AV2561); “The Astronomer’s Key" commissioned in honor of the Roswell Artists-in-Residence Program’s 50th anniversary; “The Loom,” inspired by watercolors by the composer's friend Eric Fischl and commissioned by the Eroica Trio, who premiered the work at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. These last three pieces were recorded by the Montage Music Society for the 2019 album “Music Inspired by Visual Art: Music of Bruce Wolosoff,” which was released along with a documentary about the project by Vincent Stenerson called “Creating Music Inspired by Visual Art.”
Wolosoff collaborated with the late choreographer Ann Reinking on two ballets. The White City, based on Erik Larsen’s The Devil in the White City and made in partnership with Melissa Thodos of Thodos Dance Chicago, enjoyed a two-season tour around the country and rave critical reviews: the Chicago Sun-Times named it “Best Dance of 2011.” A Light in the Dark, inspired by the lives of Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan, was nominated for an Emmy Award in Outstanding Achievement for Arts Programming. The Chicago Sun-Times described the production as “a feast for the senses,” Dance Magazine as “masterful,” and the Chicago Stage Standard as having “the hallmarks of an instant classic.”
As an outgrowth of these inter-disciplinary collaborations, Wolosoff was recently named Artistic Director of “Reflections in Music,” a non-profit organization that presents programs of music in conversation with other art forms.
Born in New York City in 1955, Wolosoff played in a variety of rock bands as a teenager while pursuing studies in classical piano performance. During his early career as a freelance classical pianist, Wolosoff’s debut recital earned a glowing review from then-New York Times music critic Tim Page, who wrote that “Mr. Wolosoff is an artist with ideas. He combines keen musical insight with a prismatic sense of tonal color.” Wolosoff gave the world premieres of numerous piano works, including compositions by Daron Hagen and Richard Danielpour; Wolosoff premiered the latter’s Piano Concerto No. 2 under the direction of JoAnn Falletta. He was Artistic Director and pianist in an 80th birthday tribute to Olivier Messiaen at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Of his recording of Ferruccio Busoni’s piano music for Music and Arts Programs of America, Hannah Busoni, the composer’s daughter-in-law and head of the Busoni Society in the 1980s, wrote, “All those who love Busoni’s work owe it to themselves to hear Bruce Wolosoff’s compelling and beautiful interpretations. They are exemplary.”
Wolosoff began receiving wider acclaim as a composer with the release of “Songs Without Words” on Naxos American Classics, a collection of 18 divertimenti performed by the Carpe Diem String Quartet. Additional commissions have come from ETHEL, the Lark Quartet, the Minnesota Ballet, recorder player Michala Petri, and the 21st Century Consort. In 2007 he led the Columbus Symphony in a performance of his “Sinfonia” as part of their Bach & Beyond Festival. Wolosoff’s chamber opera “Madimi,” with a libretto by the late Michael Hall, was premiered at Symphony Space in New York City by the Center for Contemporary Opera. Another opera, “The Great Good Thing,” with a libretto by Debbie Danielpour based on the young adult novel by Roderick Townley, was workshopped by operamission.
Wolosoff earned a B.A. from Bard College, where he studied with Joan Tower, and a Masters Degree in Piano Performance from the New England Conservatory. He studied composition and orchestration with Lawrence Widdoes, and did post-graduate work at the Dalcroze School of Music with Dr. Hilda Schuster and at the Lucerne Academy with Malcom Frager. Wolosoff’s principal piano instructor was German Diez, who taught the technique of Claudio Arrau. Other teachers include classical pianists Evelyne Crochet, Richard Goode and Jorge Bolet, and jazz pianists Charlie Banacos and Jaki Byard.
Bruce Wolosoff lives on Shelter Island with his wife, the artist Margaret Garrett.