Composer and pianist Jonathan Howard Katz is gaining increasing recognition for the unique immediacy and expressive depth of his music, which speaks to audiences and performers alike. Harnessing this intuitive grasp of communication, combined with a rigorous technical command, he has developed a strong artistic voice that is recognizable through a diverse body of work.
Current projects include a commission from pianists Ursula Oppens and Jerome Lowenthal for a new four-hand work to premiere in the spring of 2018, a commission from choreographer Sarah Berges for a new string quartet to be performed by the Mivos Quartet with Sarah Berges Dance, also in the spring of 2018, and new works with Periapsis Music and Dance.
The 2016-2017 season featured two premieres in New York with Periapsis Music and Dance (Imminence and Noesis), as well as a debut performance at Jacob’s Pillow Dance. The 2015-2016 season saw premiere performances of Europa, a solo piano work commissioned by Winston Choi with a grant from New Music USA, in Chicago, New York, Orléans (France), Tallahassee, and Bloomington (Indiana). Additional commissions have included the Charles and Joan Gross Family Foundation, Concert Artists Guild, and others. His music has been performed by the Da Capo Chamber Players, Cygnus Ensemble, Ensemble Pi, Alia Musica Pittsburgh, pianist Daria Rabotkina, violinists Ari Streisfeld and Caroline Chin, flutist Linda Wetherill, tenors Chris Lysack and Nils Neubert, soprano Mary Mackenzie, and others. In February 2014, Dr. Katz conducted the premiere of his chamber ballet Laid upon the children on the Music of Now Marathon at Symphony Space, and in January 2015 he presented his work Trace at the Festival of New Music at Florida State University.
One of Dr. Katz’s major artistic interests has been developing collaborations with choreographers and dancers in which the music is equal to the movement in importance and intricacy, and to date he has composed over a dozen works for dance in collaboration with nine choreographers. Recent collaborators include Seán Curran, Manuel Vignoulle, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, and Periapsis Music and Dance’s residents Erin Dillon and Hannah Weber. He curates the ongoing Periapsis Open Series and has curated other dance festivals and series in New York City, has taught music workshops and classes at the Peridance Capezio Center, and is an adjunct teacher in the dance department at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Dr. Katz holds degrees in piano performance from Indiana University, New England Conservatory, and Northwestern University. It was during his time in the Doctor of Music program at Northwestern that he returned to composition after a hiatus of over a decade. Recognition came immediately with the international Robert Helps Prize in 2010 for his song cycle Talking of Michelangelo. In 2011, he became one of the last people to receive the coveted Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, which funded his composition studies in New York for four years and was worth over $150,000.
As a pianist, Dr. Katz was presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in their “Evenings with Schoenberg” series in 2006 and gave the Bloomington (IN) premiere of the original version of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in 2001. Winner of the 2007 Pittsburgh Concert Society Major Auditions and semifinalist in the 2009 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, he has appeared at the Aspen Music Festival, the Music Academy of the West, in Boston’s Jordan Hall, at PianoForte Chicago, on the Steinway Society of Western Pennsylvania series, and on the Music at St. Luke’s series in East Hampton.
As an educator, Dr. Katz has over a decade of experience teaching at the college level and was an adjunct lecturer in music theory at Northwestern for three years. He was an instructor of secondary piano while at NEC and in addition has taught aural skills and keyboard harmony. He has presented master classes in piano and composition and done extensive private teaching and tutoring.
As a scholar, Dr. Katz’s work with new piano music promises to be a major contribution to contemporary research. His doctoral dissertation, The Piano Repertoire Project: An Annotated Reference to Solo Piano Music by Composers Born since 1970, documents 314 works by 172 composers and sheds scholarly light on an important and rapidly evolving body of work.
Dr. Katz studied composition primarily with Jason Eckardt and Tania León at the CUNY Graduate Center. His principal piano teachers were Ursula Oppens, Gabriel Chodos, and Edward Auer.
Press and Quotes
Click here for a feature in Dance Informa magazine.
“The music of Jonathan Howard Katz is compelling, exciting, and extraordinarily expressive.”
“. . . intrepid . . . a gifted and uncompromising composer.”
“His compositions are distinct, full of vivacity, and truly engaging.”
“Jonathan Howard Katz’s Coda began explosively, throwing a plethora of virtuosic effects at both listener and performer with no warning or preparation. It continued as a schizophrenic dialogue, and Emily Popham Gillins showed sublime instincts in pulling back when necessary with a dramatic elegance. One could be tempted to hear the work as a parody of the showpiece – all challenging effects distilled to their purest form with no extraneous material besides. Nonetheless, a short, fiery, and impressive performance and composition that grabbed and fastened the attention.”
—Seth Gilman in Examiner.com