April 11, 2015 10:02:46 PM
Awadagin Pratt doesn't conform to everyone's idea of a concert pianist. With his dramatic dreadlocks and often novel wardrobe, he is, one might say, unconventional. But it all works into his plan, the one to break down barriers between audience and performer, to spark interest in classical music among those not traditionally drawn to the art form.
The Columbus Arts Council's Concert and Artist Series presents the internationally-known virtuoso and recording artist Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Connie Sills Kossen Auditorium of Poindexter Hall on Mississippi University for Women's campus.
In an approximate 75-minute program, Pratt (his first name is pronounced ah-wah-dah-jin) will perform compositions by Johannes Brahams, Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Liszt.
"The program is an interesting one," Pratt said via email Thursday. "It kind of centers on the idea of variation -- different ways of looking at something and different ways of developing ideas. Each piece, however, even with the same kind of compositional technique, inhabits its own spiritual and emotional world."
Columbus Arts Council Program Manager Beverly Norris said, "We've been attempting to bring Mr. Pratt to the Golden Triangle for several years now and are extremely pleased that his schedule finally allowed this. His piano performances are very eloquent and powerful; the audience can't help but be pulled into the experience."
Pratt, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was the first student in the history of the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore to receive diplomas in three performance areas -- piano, violin and conducting. Since winning the Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1992, the first black pianist to do so, his career has taken him to perform three times at the White House, as well as at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center, among many other prominent venues in the U.S. and worldwide.