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Gabrielius Alekna

Pianist Gabrielius Alekna specializes in 20th century modernism in general and the modern Lithuanian avant-garde in particular. Based in New York, he is also a noted educator and has written musicological essays on Lithuanian music. Alekna was born in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. He took up the piano at five and attended the Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis Arts Gymnasium, a prestigious arts high school in Vilnius. He went on to the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and was then invited to apply to the Juilliard School, where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal. Alekna earned bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees at Juilliard, where he was the first Lithuanian to earn a doctorate. He settled in New York but has retained close connections to his home country, where he co-founded the Birštonas Summer Arts Academy for young musicians and served as visiting associate professor at the Juilliard-associated Music Academy of Vytautas Magnus University. Creating distinctive programs that include new Lithuanian music, 20th century music, and traditional repertory, Alekna has appeared in recital at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall (where he was one of six pianists invited to participate in the Daniel Barenboim workshop "The Beethoven Piano Sonatas"), the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, and both the Musikverein and the Bösendorfer Saal in Vienna. He has appeared as a concerto soloist with nearly every major Lithuanian ensemble as well as with Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Juilliard Orchestra, and the Belarus State Symphony Orchestra (Minsk), among others. Alekna has performed chamber music with various Lithuanian players, including cellist Caroline Stinson and violinist Bartlomiej Niziol, among others. Alekna's discography has focused closely on modern Lithuanian music. He made his debut in 2013 on an album of music by Jeronimas Kačinskas on the Toccata label. He has also recorded for Naxos -- where he was heard on a two-volume set of music by Vytautas Bacevičius -- and Ondine. On the latter label, he released the 2021 album Žibuoklė Martinaitytė: Saudade. Alekna teaches at Brooklyn College and the Juilliard School.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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