Hailed by England's Musical Times for his "dazzlingly prodigious technique", Haskell Small first came to public attention after winning the Pittsburgh Concert Society auditions at the age of 21.
A recipient of a solo recitalist grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a semifinalist in the Johann Sebastian Bach International Piano Competition, Mr. Small's concerts throughout the United States, including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, National Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center and the Spoleto Festival, have won him an enthusiastic following. Mr. Small was featured in the PBS television special A Celebration of the Piano, taped at Wolf Trap. In recent seasons, Mr. Small has made several tours of Japan and performed recitals in Paris and London.
Renoir's Feast, for piano solo, was commissioned in 2006 by The Phillips Collection and Premiered in April of that year to mark the return of the Collection's most renowned impressionist work, Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party. Joan Reinthaler of The Washington Post wrote of the premiere, "Small's idiom includes a comfortable mix of impressionistic color, jazz and blues inflection, whiffs of Stephen Foster and a sense of improvisatory freedom. Small's personalities are as muted as Renoir's softened outlines. The people he portrays are good friends who share many characteristics, and so the personalities are drawn subtly and cerebrally; you get a sense of companionable conversation and French understatement rather than of enthusiastic partying."
Following in the tradition of 18th and 19th century pianist/composers, Haskell Small is also an accomplished composer, who often performs his own works. He has received commissions from such organizations as the Phillips Collection, Washington Performing Arts Society, Three Rivers Piano Competition, Georgetown Symphony and Paul Hill Chorale, and he was the winner of the 1999 Marin Ballet Dance Score Competition. Subterranean, a ballet score commissioned by the Washington Ballet, was described by an audience member who said, "If that's what goes on in the subway, I'm heading down there tomorrow."
Following Small's premiere performance, Tim Page of The Washington Post lauded the composer's Symphony for Solo Piano as a serious and substantial composition that deserves a permanent place in the keyboard repertory." The composer's recording of Symphony for Solo Piano has also received wonderful reviews, including from Records International at http://www.recordsinternational.com/RICatalogDec00.html.
Haskell Small was commissioned by the Mt. Vernon Orchestra to write a children's story for orchestra and narration, which was premiered in 2001. This new work was funded by a grant from the American Composers Forum for Mr. Small to work with the Mount Vernon Orchestra (now the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic) and students at Mt. Vernon's Fort Hunt Elementary School to create a complete musical production. The students worked with Mr. Small to create a story and he created the music to enhance the story's theatricality. This project was part of the business partnership between the Mount Vernon Orchestra Association and the school. For more information about the new Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, visit their website at http://www.washingtonmetrophilharmonic.org/.
This very successful collaboration led to Haskell Small being named Composer in Residence with the Mount Vernon Orchestra Association for their 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 seasons. During this period he created two new works - a aprogressive' composition, entitled Really? _ A Suite for Orchestra for the Mt. Vernon Orchestra's 2001-2002 season and a Double Concerto for Bassoon and Piano for the orchestra's 2002-2003 season. Soloists in the premiere were the composer and bassoonist Arnold Irchai. The first section of the Suite for Orchestra, Why? was premiered at the season opening concert, the second section So What?, along with Why? was performed at the second concert, Are You Sure? was performed along with Why? and So What? at the third concert, and so on, throughout the season.
Symphony for Solo Piano and other piano works have been released by Albany Records (http://www.albanyrecords.com/index.html) and 4-Tay Records has produced The Twisted Pine Branch, a CD of Mr. Small's chamber music, and the Goldberg Variations/25 Preludes disk (http://www.ClassicalCDs.net). His A Game of Go for two pianos has also been recorded by Quattro Mani for Klavier Music Productions ‹ http://www.klavier-records.com/new.htm.
A recording of Mr. Small performing Gershwin in Black and White piano transcriptions (by himself and others) of four Gershwin works, caused The Washington Post to note, "Who could ask for anything more?", and of his Twenty-Five Preludes: A Musical Odyssey, a CD featuring Small's early piano music, 20th Century Music Magazine declared "Everything he touches turns to pianistic gold". This work has been reissued along with Mr. Small's superb interpretation of Bach's Goldberg Variations on 4Tay Records (http://www.ClassicalCDs.net).
Small also performs frequently for children's audiences with narrator Robert Aubry Davis. On the Ongaku label, their recent CD featuring Poulenc's The Story of Babar was touted as "absolutely stunning" by Fanfare. For information about Ongaku Records, please visit www.ongaku-records.com.
Currently a faculty member of the Washington Conservatory, Haskell Small received his musical training at the San Francisco Conservatory and Carnegie-Mellon University. He has studied piano with Leon Fleisher, William Masselos, Harry Franklin and Jeanne Behrend, and composition with Roland Leich and Vincent Persichetti.
You can read Lisztian Sparkle - England's Music & Vision daily webmagazine's interview with Haskell Small at http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/2002/05/small1.htm.
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