Hailed by the New York Times as “prodigiously accomplished and exciting” and as one of the piano’s “brilliant stars,” pianist Blair McMillen leads a musical life unbounded by convention. He is known for his advocacy of living composers and contemporary music, as well as championing very early keyboard music and more recent neglected masterpieces. For more than two decades he has divided his time as soloist, ensemble leader, music festival director, and educator.
Blair McMillen has performed in major concert venues throughout New York City, the United States, and around the world. He has played frequently with the Knights, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the New York Philharmonic, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and jazz legends Fred Hersch and Don Byron. He is a member of several ensembles, including American Modern Ensemble, the six-piano “supergroup” Grand Band, and Perspectives Ensemble, among others. For 11 years, McMillen was pianist for the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players.
His first solo CD “Soundings” was released to critical acclaim in 2000. Since then, Blair McMillen has been featured on dozens of commercially-released solo and ensemble recordings, spanning numerous musical genres – jazz, world, musical theater, electronics. A recent album of contemporary American two-piano music with Stephen Gosling, “Powerhouse Pianists II,” was declared “one of the finest piano recordings of the year” by NPR.
McMillen is the co-founder and co-director of the Rite of Summer Music Festival, an outdoor contemporary and world-music series in New York. Having recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, Rite of Summer is the only annual music festival on Governors Island, a place the New Yorker has called “an enormous playground for the arts.”
Blair McMIllen holds degrees from Oberlin College, The Juilliard School, and the Manhattan School of Music. At Juilliard, he was principal soloist on a tour of Japan with the Juilliard Orchestra. While there, he also won the Juilliard Gina Bachauer Competition and the Sony “Elevated Standards” Career Grant.
Having taught at Bard College and Conservatory since 2005, McMillen also serves on the piano faculty at Mannes at the New School in New York City. He is grateful for the many teachers who have inspired him; including Jerome Lowenthal, Robert McDonald, Joseph Kalichstein, Sophia Rosoff, and Byron Janis. www.pianoblair.com