MacArthur ‘genius’ Jeremy Denk performs piano recital Jan. 29 at Schwab

January 07, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Classical pianist Jeremy Denk, a recent recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, makes his Penn State concert debut at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, in Schwab Auditorium on the University Park campus of Penn State.

“Of all of America’s up-and-coming classical instrumentalists, Jeremy Denk, the pianist-blogger who won a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius grant’ in September, might well be the most interesting,” asserted a Wall Street Journal writer.

Denk’s recital includes "Fantasy," a work by jazz composer and pianist Brad Mehldau co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State through its membership in Music Accord. The program, Denk said, is also likely to include works by Mozart and Schumann, plus some ragtime selections to complement the Mehldau composition.

Tickets for the Center for the Performing Arts presentation are $42 for an adult, $12 for a University Park student and $32 for a person 18 and younger. Buy tickets online at or by phone at 814-863-0255. Outside the local calling area, dial 1-800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at four State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), HUB-Robeson Center Information Desk (weekdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. resuming Jan. 13) and Bryce Jordan Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

“Mr. Denk, clearly, is a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs, in whatever combination -- both for his penetrating intellectual engagement with the music and for the generosity of his playing,” wrote a New York Times critic.

Musical America named Denk its Instrumentalist of the Year for 2014. And Out, a magazine covering gay and lesbian perspectives on culture, politics, style and more, featured Denk in its 19th-annual Out100 list of achievers.

“Jeremy Denk is a concert pianist enlivening the musical experience for amateurs and aficionados alike through his eloquence with notes and words,” the MacArthur Foundation noted in its biography of the musician. “As a soloist and in concerti and chamber ensembles, Denk masterfully performs some of the most technically demanding works of iconic masters -- Bach, Beethoven, Chopin -- as well as compositions of storied 20th-century artists -- Ives and Ligeti -- with virtuosic dexterity and imagination. Noted for his unexpected pairings of pieces in recital programs and recordings, he often draws out surprising themes and continuities between historically and stylistically disparate works.”

The pianist recently released a CD/DVD set of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. A New York Times critic wrote that Denk has a “profound affinity with Bach.” A Philadelphia Inquirer reviewer called his Goldberg interpretations “mesmerizing.”

The recording reached number one on both the Billboard “Classical Albums” and “Traditional Classical Albums” charts.

Denk tours widely with violin virtuoso Joshua Bell. French Impressions, their 2012 Sony Classical recording of music by Franck, Saint-Saëns and Ravel, earned rave reviews.

The pianist also is lauded for his witty and personal music writing, which has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic and the NPR Music website. His blog, Think Denk, is frequently referenced by the media and music industry.

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Denk, is offered in Schwab one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders.

The John L. Brown Jr. and Marlynn Steele Sidehamer Endowment sponsors the presentation. WPSU is the media sponsor.

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Free related events:

The public is invited to a free Center for the Performing Arts Classical Coffeehouse, featuring Denk, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, in the Hintz Family Alumni Center’s Robb Hall on the University Park campus.

Denk will perform selected works and have a conversation with attendees. Complimentary coffee and cookies will be served, and each attendee receives a Classical Coffeehouse mug, while supply lasts.

Classical Coffeehouse is presented in partnership with the Blue & White Society and the Penn State Alumni Association. The Penn State Council of LionHearts also provides support.

The public also is welcome to observe when Denk leads a piano master class at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, in University Park’s Esber Recital Hall. Chris Guzman, assistant professor in piano at Penn State, hosts the two-hour session in Music Building I.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 07, 2014