Arts & Entertainment

Utah Symphony presents 2024 Grammy-nominated composition on Dec. 1 and 2

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Awadagin Pratt will be performing Rounds, a composition written for him by Jessie Montgomery, at Abravanel Hall on Dec. 1 and 2 as part of the Appalachian Spring concert.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations announced Nov. 10

Awadagin Pratt and Jessie Montgomery, a composer with the Chicago Symphony, met about five years ago. They played Chamber music together and had a lot of discussions. He decided he would commission her to write a piece for him in the future. That piece is Rounds, the first piece Montgomery has written for solo piano.

Nine orchestras co-commissioned the piece, and it has now been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category:

Montgomery: Rounds
Jessie Montgomery, composer (Awadagin Pratt, A Far Cry & Roomful Of Teeth)

Rounds, based on T.S. Eliot’s poem Four Quartets has been well received by audiences

Awadagin Pratt says, “Audiences love it. It features high energy that surrounds an incredibly beautiful calm section.” It also includes a cadenza, during which Pratt improvises. Rounds has been requested for over 30 performances already, which is rare for new pieces.

In this concert with the Utah Symphony the piece is paired with J. S. Bach’s Piano Concerto in A Major under the baton of conductor Teddy Abrams. In addition, Teddy Abrams conducts the overture to his own rap-opera about American boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Aaron Copland’s orchestral suite from his ballet Appalachian Spring.

Awadagin Pratt, pianist, conductor, violinist, professor of music and curator of memorable musical moments

Pratt first played with the Utah Symphony under Joseph Silverstein after winning the Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1992. Since then, he has performed on six continents, at the White House, on Sesame Street and in solo recitals at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. His album STILLPOINT, which includes Rounds, was released in August.

Awadagin Pratt: Black in America

During the lockdown Pratt created content for his Art of the Piano podcast. After George Floyd’s murder, he discovered that many in his orbit assumed he had never had these encounters. He had. Awadagin Pratt: Black in America is a documentary that grew out of multi-media presentations he did at college campuses and filming at the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Arts & Media.

Staying relevant and wanted

When asked what his biggest challenge is, Pratt said, “Staying relevant and wanted.” While teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Pratt is encouraging the next generation of pianists. As a founding director of the Next Generation Festival, the Art of Piano Foundation and the Nina Simone Piano Competition, which just completed its first set of competitions in October in Cincinnati, he is making sure the tremendous talent of young Black pianists is showcased as well. Both Awadagin Pratt and composer Jessie Montgomery are black, and Pratt is actively inventing the artistic world he longs to live in, shining light on rich voices of the past and present and paving the way for a new generation of inventive musical artists.

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