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Blair McMillen

Pianist Blair McMillen's musical tastes are broad, both in solo and chamber music, and they extend to improvisation, nontraditional recital settings, and jazz, a field in which he is self-taught. His recording career has focused heavily on contemporary music. McMillen was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was raised there and in San Francisco. He attended Oberlin College, graduating in 1993. McMillen went on to the Manhattan School of Music and to the Juilliard School in Manhattan; at the latter, he won Juilliard's Gina Bachauer Competition and the Sony label's Elevated Standard's Career Grant. Over the course of his career, he has divided his time between solo appearances, chamber music performance, organization and direction of music festivals, and teaching. McMillen spent 12 years as the pianist with the contemporary-music-oriented Da Capo Chamber Players, and he has also performed with the American Modern Ensemble, the six-piano ensemble Grand Band, and the Perspectives Ensemble, among other groups. As a soloist, he has been in demand among American orchestras, including the American Symphony Orchestra, the Albany Symphony, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. McMillen plays music of all periods, and he also performs purely improvisatory music and jazz. His recordings, however, have focused on contemporary music. McMillen's recording catalog begins with the recital Soundings, issued on the Midnight Music label in 2004. The following year, he joined the faculty at Bard College; he also began teaching at the Mannes College of Music in New York in 2017. McMillen has been active at music festivals, both as an educator -- he has taught at the Elm City Chamber Festival, the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Samuel Barber Institute, among others -- and as an organizer, of the Rite of Summer Music Festival, on New York's Governors Island. McMillen has recorded for the Centaur, Bridge, and ECM labels, among others, issuing on the latter a recording of music by Bartók, Schnittke, and Lutoslawski with violinist Miranda Cuckson in 2016. McMillen was heard with percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the Albany Symphony on the 2021 album Strike Zones.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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