Guest Artist Series: Ursula Oppens, piano

As remote as Humboldt County seems to be much of the time, its residents are fortunate to have so many arts organizations working hard to bring World Class performers to this side of the redwood curtain.  This time it is Humboldt State University's Department of Music at the helm, presenting a very special solo piano recital featuring the legendary American pianist Ursula Oppens.  A five time Grammy Award nominee, Ms. Oppens is a Distinguished Professor of Music at Brooklyn College, the CUNY Graduate Center, and on the faculty of Mannes College/The New School.  She has performed as a soloist with many of the world's great orchestras, including the New York, Los Angeles, and London Philharmonic, and the Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras.  This Guest Artist Series concert is presented on Friday, September 28th at 8:00 p.m. at Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus.  Tickets are only $10 General, $5 Senior/Child, $5 for HSU students with ID, making this rare opportunity also an affordable one.  In addition, Ms. Oppens will offer a FREE piano master class that is open to the public on that same afternoon, September 28th, from 12:00 - 2:00 p.m., also in Fulkerson Recital Hall.  Ursula Oppens is famous for championing adventurous contemporary American piano music.  The Washington Post has asserted, "It is probably safe to say that no single performer has done more for the cause of American piano music than Ursula Oppens."  Repertoire for this recital will include works by Franz Schubert, as well as pieces written for Ms. Oppens by American-born composers Elliott Carter and John Corigliano.

Ursula Oppens, a legend among American pianists, is widely admired particularly for her original and perceptive readings of new music, but also for her knowing interpretations of the standard repertoire. No other artist alive today has commissioned and premiered more new works for the piano that have entered the permanent repertoire.  Over the years, Ms. Oppens has premiered works by such leading composers as John Adams, Luciano Berio, William Bolcom, Anthony Braxton, Elliott Carter, John Corigliano, Anthony Davis, John Harbison, Julius Hemphill, Laura Kaminsky, Tania Leon, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Harold Meltzer, Meredith Monk, Conlon Nancarrow, Tobias Picker, Bernard Rands, Frederic Rzewski, Allen Shawn, Alvin Singleton, Joan Tower, Lois V Vierk, Amy Williams, Christian Wolff, Amnon Wolman, and Charles Wuorinen.

A prolific and critically acclaimed recording artist with five Grammy nominations, Ms. Oppens most recently released a new recording of Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, nominated for a Grammy in 2016, and Piano Songs, a collaboration with Meredith Monk. Earlier Grammy nominations were for Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano; Oppens Plays Carter; a recording of the complete piano works of Elliott Carter for Cedille Records (also was named a “Best of the Year” selection by The New York Times long-time music critic Allan Kozinn); Piano Music of Our Time featuring compositions by John Adams, Elliott Carter, Julius Hemphill, and Conlon Nancarrow for the Music and Arts label, and her cult classic The People United Will Never Be Defeated by Frederic Rzewski on Vanguard. Ms. Oppens recently added to her extensive discography by releasing a two-piano CD for Cedille Records devoted to Visions de l’Amen of Oliver Messiaen and Debussy’s En blanc et noir performed with pianist Jerome Lowenthal.

As an orchestral guest soloist, Ms. Oppens has performed with virtually all of the world’s major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), and the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Milwaukee. Abroad, she has appeared with such ensembles as the Berlin Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Deutsche Symphonie, the Scottish BBC, and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. Ms. Oppens is also an avid chamber musician and has performed with the Arditti, Cassatt, JACK, Juilliard, and Pacifica quartets, among other chamber ensembles. Ursula Oppens joins the faculty of Mannes Colllege, The New School, in fall 2017, and is a Distinguished Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. From 1994 through the end of the 2007-08 academic year she served as John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. In addition, Ms. Oppens has served as a juror for many international competitions, such as the Concert Artists Guild, Young Concert Artists, Young Pianists Foundation (Amsterdam), and Cincinnati Piano World Competition. Ms. Oppens lives in New York City.