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.
Highlights of the 2021-2022 season include six guest performances as piano soloist with New York City Ballet, with conductors Andrew Litton and Andrews Sill; performances with Sara Mearns and Joshua Bergasse for the 90th anniversary season of Jacob’s Pillow; three new works for Periapsis Music and Dance, with choreographers Gabrielle Lamb, PeiJu Chien-Pott, and Evita Zacharioglou; and a City Artist Corps Grant program at the DiMenna Center, featuring a full evening of his music.
Dr. Katz’s music has been performed by the Mivos Quartet, Da Capo Chamber Players, Periapsis Music and Dance, Cygnus Ensemble, Ensemble Pi, and Alia Musica Pittsburgh; cellist Jeffrey Zeigler; pianists Ursula Oppens, Jerome Lowenthal, Winston Choi, and Daria Rabotkina; violinists Ari Streisfeld, Emily Popham Gillins, and Caroline Chin; flutist Annie Nikunen; clarinetist Gregory Oakes; vocalists Mary Mackenzie, Chris Lysack, Stephanie Lamprea, Zen Wu, Sophie Delphis, Emily Solo, Emily Hughes, and Nils Neubert; and many others. His music has been heard at the Music of Now Marathon at Symphony Space, the Festival of New Music at Florida State University, the Inside/Out Series at Jacob’s Pillow Dance, the Here and Now Labor Day Festival at Bargemusic, the International Piano Competition of Orléans, and at venues such as Merkin Concert Hall, the Kozciuszko Foundation, Atlantic Music Center, Spectrum, Roulette, and the Glinka Museum (Moscow).
Commissions and other support have come from Concert Artists Guild, New Music USA, the O’Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation, the Charles and Joan Gross Family Foundation, and numerous individuals. Recent commissions include Berceuse (2021) for violin and piano, commissioned by violinist Emily Popham Gillins; and You were of that light (2022) for violin and piano (with additional versions for viola and piano, and cello and piano) commissioned by a consortium organized by Kate Marriott Mitchell, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passing of the young violinist Georgia Marriott.
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. To date he has collaborated with over thirty choreographers, including Seán Curran, Manuel Vignoulle, Kate Skarpetowska, Gabrielle Lamb, Alia Kache, Ask la Cour, Kyla Barkin, Da’ Von Doane, Zara Lawler, and Annie Nikunen. He is the artistic director and cofounder of Periapsis Music and Dance, curates the Periapsis Open Series in New York City, has taught music workshops and classes at the Peridance Capezio Center, and served as an adjunct teacher in the dance department at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He was also a guest pianist with New York City Ballet for their winter and spring 2022 seasons.
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. More recently he performed with legendary dancers Valentina Kozlova, Christine Dakin, Arthur Aviles, and PeiJu Chien-Pott on a program of historic repertoire.
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
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“[The Subject is] far more noteworthy as a dance for Katz’s piano composition that itself directs (or reflects) Zachariogiou’s choreography, and even more so by the extraordinary movement images that Zacharioglou has created and for the control and precision-timing required for her to make the dance look as unusual as it does.”
— Jerry Hochman in CriticalDance
“Equipoise features the marvelous, substantial music and pianism of Jonathan Howard Katz in support of dancers Erin Dillon and Evita Zacharioglou. The interweaving movements of the two dancers have a lovely sense of flow and line that meshes seamlessly with the music.”
— James Farmingdale in SoundWordSight
“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