Ursula Oppens, pianist


Ursula Oppens, pianist
Photo credit: Christian Steiner
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"Oppens has always excelled in densely packed music that would make most pianists cower...she applied equal amounts of energy and subtlety, finding the muscle and poetic heart in the music even as she sailed nimbly through the keyboard extremities."
~ Cleveland Plain Dealer

"What makes Oppens a compelling musician...is her probing intellect and curiosity; her ability to clarify what she perceives."
~ Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Ursula Oppens has long been recognized as the leading champion of contemporary American piano music. In addition her original and perceptive readings of other music, old and new, have earned her a place among the elect of today’s performing musicians.

This season Ms. Oppens has performed twice at New York’s Bargemusic, first in Franck’s Piano Quintet in F minor with the Cassatt Quartet—repeated at Music Mountain—and again in the “Here and Now” contemporary series as part of the Winter Festival at Bargemusic. In the fall she appeared in a highly successful recital on the Music of Our Time series in Brighton, England, and, in November she participated in a birthday celebration concert for composer Meredith Monk at Le Poisson Rouge, where she was joined by Bruce Brubaker to perform works from the recently released recording of “Piano Songs” by Meredith Monk on the ECM label. Recent releases also include a collaboration with pianist Robert Levin in a recording of the noted British composer Bernard Rands’s selected piano works on Bridge records. In addition, Ms. Oppens will perform Frederic Rzewski’s legendary “The People United Will Never Be Defeated” in Winnipeg, Canada, and at Florida State University College of Music’s 17th annual New Music Festival, as well as participating in the Young Concert Artists Composer’s Concert at the Kaufman Center’s Merkin Hall in New York City.

Ms. Oppens has been nominated four times for a Grammy Award; most recently in the coveted category of “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” for the highly praised album “Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano,” released on Cedille Records. The disc featured the world premiere recording of John Corigliano’s work by the same name, which had its debut performance by Ms. Oppens at New York’s Symphony Space in May 2009. 

Earlier Grammy nominations were for “Oppens Plays Carter” a recording of the complete piano works of Elliott Carter for Cedille Records (which also was named a “Best of the Year” selection by The New York Times long-time music critic Allan Kozinn), her “Piano Music of Our Time” featuring compositions by John Adams, Elliott Carter, Julius Hemphill, and Conlon Nancarrow for the Music and Arts label, and her legendary cult classic “The People United Will Never Be Defeated,” by Frederic Rzewski on Vanguard.

Ms. Oppens has performed with virtually all of the world’s major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, and the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Milwaukee. Abroad, she has appeared with such ensembles as the Berlin Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Deutsche Symphonie, the Scottish BBC, and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. Ms. Oppens is an avid chamber musician and has performed with the Arditti, Cassatt, JACK, Juilliard, and Pacifica quartets, among others.
Ursula Oppens is a Distinguished Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. From 1994 through the end of the 2007-08 academic year she served as John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Ms. Oppens lives in New York City.

(January 2015. Please discard previously dated materials and contact publicity@colbertartists.com before making any alterations or cuts.)