Roger Wright
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Roger Wright

Houston, Texas, United States | SELF

Houston, Texas, United States | SELF
Solo Classical Classical

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Apr
24
Roger Wright @ Taylor Auditorium

Joplin, Missouri, United States

Joplin, Missouri, United States

May
03
Roger Wright @ First Lutheran Church of Venice

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States

Mar
22
Roger Wright @ Park La Brea Theater

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States

Nov
17
Roger Wright @ St James Presbyterian Church

Woodland Hills, California, United States

Woodland Hills, California, United States

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Music

Press


"Music & Visions Daily"

As the saying goes, either you have it or you don't. From the opening seventh chord of Schumann's gentle Blumenstück, Roger Wright, whose entry to the Cliburn competition was only confirmed a week ago, demonstrated just what 'it' is. Rarely has a pianist communicated the spirit of a work with such poignance and immediacy, which was abundantly evident, even over the airwaves, from the hushed reaction of the audience.

My admiration for Roger Wright is no secret; I have reviewed him in concert and on disc on several occasions. As he proved again today, he is without question the greatest pianist that America has produced since William Kapell. His playing seems to grow exponentially with each performance, blossoming into something deeper and more complex. Abundantly detailed and passionate, intelligent yet unafraid of risks, here is a pianist who simply has it all, and then some. There is an edge to his music making that rivets for its vivid dynamic intensity and dramatic audacity, informed by a firm rhythmic spine that refuses to compromise musical values for cheap effect.

In Chopin's august evergreen, the B flat minor Sonata, Mr Wright, a native Texan and one of only two Americans competing, pulled out all the stops, exploiting it for its cumulative energy while cultivating its bel canto with the deft gentility of a hothouse gardener. Even so, his playing of the last three movements was oddly more restrained -- or should I say compressed -- than his performance at Sydney (now gloriously preserved on CD), perhaps due to nerves. But even that contributed to a powerful, intense reading that is very much his own. Indeed, Mr Wright sounds like no one else, which is much to his advantage in a world of piano playing mediocrities, if not necessarily in a contest that has traditionally thrown its weight behind routine and status quo interpreters. Rzewski's outrageous, often violent and picaresque homage to farm machinery, the Winsboro Cottonmill Blues, became a larger than life tour de force in Mr Wright's wonderfully able hands.


There is something disarmingly naive about Mr Wright's playing; one could almost say, American. That is hardly to say that Mr Wright is not one of the most intellectually savvy pianists around these days; he most certainly is. But he sounds like no one else, and his way with music evokes something of a pioneer spirit for its refusal to indulge in sentimentality at the expense of rhythm and structure, and for its many moments of exquisite tenderness. Nowhere to be found in his playing is the rhapsodic didacticism favored by the Russians, the sunny laissez faire of the Italians, or even the gemütlichkeit of the Viennese. Mr Wright, on the other hand, is his own country. Digging deep, he knows just how to flesh out a work from the inside, as it were, filtering it through his own prismatic imagination. By some miracle he has not born the influence of any single 'school'. It is precisely this plurality of affect, given to a fierce independence of thought and spirit, that makes his playing so compelling and unique. He is, like Kapell, an authentic original, and as such, will most certainly develop into one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century.

- Music & Visions Daily


"The Costa Rica News"

I had the extreme pleasure on Friday night to attend the Season Opener of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica at the Teatro Nacional. Not only were their renditions of Tchaikovsky, Smetana and Rimsky-Korsakov exquisite, but I enjoyed the rare delight of listening to one of the greatest pianists of our time, Roger Wright. Wright’s talented and energetic playing style was brought to bear on one of the most difficult and technically demanding concerti in all of the piano repertoire, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 2, which he performed brilliantly.
Friday night’s concert was performed against the elegant and classical backdrop of the Teatro Nacional, one of Costa Rica’s cultural treasures. You can still see Roger Wright during his last performance tomorrow at 10:30am, but if you are not able to indulge in this audible chocolate, the next performance of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica will be on Friday the 16th of April where they will be playing selections from Schubert, Haydn, Proto and Mendelssohn and featuring the talented trumpet styling of Jens Lindemann.
For information on their full schedule (in Spanish) visit http://www.osn.go.cr/
- The Costa Rica News


"Eye Spy L.A."

"…While his heart is with the romantics like Arthur Rubinstein, his formidable technique aligns more with…Vladimir Horowitz to Ivo Pogorelich. In many ways, Wright presents the best of both worlds, a remarkable pianist with a winning and heartfelt interpretation and rapport with his audience."
- Eye Spy L.A.


"The West Australian"


"CD of the year, in my view, is a recently released ABC Classics recording of pianist Roger Wright."
- The West Australian


"American Record Guide"


"A savvy, elegant, and charismatic pianist, Wright commands an astonishing but musically informed technical apparatus...he will turn heads before long."
- American Record Guide


"American Record Guide"


"A savvy, elegant, and charismatic pianist, Wright commands an astonishing but musically informed technical apparatus...he will turn heads before long."
- American Record Guide


"International Record Review"

"...As with any competition, there are stars and one that shone resplendently was the 26-year-old American Pianist Roger Wright. His diet wasn't one of the competition standards, but even when he did choose to play pieces frequently aired in competitions - a Chopin B flat minor Sonata of Rubinstein-like nobility, for instance - they were newly lit, magnificently unfolded. His choice of American contemporary music (by Fabregas) and his Schumann and Haydn hovered around the elegant and rarefied worlds of Kempff, Haskil and Lupu."
- International Record Review


"The Washington Post"

You recognize it immediately when you hear it. A long, arching, beautiful line that sings naturally, the way a fine singer sings. A true pianissimo poised just above audibility, natural gradations of sonority between very soft and very loud, and a thundering fortissimo that resounds without clamor or ugly overtones. A way of voicing chords so that inner voices have their own dappled color and richness. A projection of personality that makes interpretation highly individual but illuminates rather than exploits the music. These are some of the characteristics that mark the true romantic pianist, a pianist who can unlock the secrets of the great romantic composers. All of that and more was on display in Roger Wright's recital Sunday at the Phillips Collection. Wright, at 26, has a powerful technique and he enjoys reveling in it. He took the Schumann Toccata - which makes inhuman demands on the wrist - at a burning tempo that was always under control, and along the way he shaped Schumann's contrapuntal lines with remarkable tonal beauty and masterful control of inner voices. The Chopin Sonata in B-flat Minor was a gorgeous display of effortlessly flowing melody, rhapsodic bravura and electrifying passagework. This was aristocratic, exhilarating Chopin that sounded freshly conceived and spontaneous in every bar. Frederic Rzewski's "Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues" erupted in huge sonic clusters that threatened to tear the recital hall asunder. Wright is virtually unknown, but he is a major pianist who should have a big career."
- The Washington Post


"Clavier Magazine"

"Roger Wright played…with a technique equal to Marc-Andre Hamelin's, a charismatic presence and a fine musical mind to boot…He stole the show."
- Clavier Magazine


"San Antonio Express-News"

"Roger Wright…rocked the Rach, in a blistering performance of Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3 in D minor, the renowned pianist…took no prisoners, playing with passionate aplomb and athletic intensity. In Wright's capable hands, the majestic concerto, especially the cadenza in the first movement, was both elegant and furious."
The San Antonio Express-News

- San Antonio Express-News


"The East Hampton Star"

The second major program in the Music Festival of the Hamptons on Sunday brought together Michael Guttman, its artistic director, the Brussels Chamber Orchestra, and a pianist, Roger Wright, in a program of a few staples and a few innovative and less-heard pieces.
Mr. Wright came onstage for Bach's Concerto for Piano and Strings in F minor, which was, in contrast, dramatic and sturdy. The lyrical middle movement, Largo, was magical. In the right-hand melody in the piano, Mr. Wright brought out a different tone, as it if were another instrument, and it had exquisite ornaments and the subtlest articulation. The delicate pizzicato in the strings provided an elegant background for an atmosphere that was wonderfully maintained throughout. The last movement was ardent and impassioned.
The concerto is one of a number originally written for harpsichord, and some purists might question playing it on the piano, an instrument Bach did not compose for. But there is no question that this interpretation by Mr. Guttman and Mr. Wright was compelling. The pianist had to return to the stage a second time to acknowledge the applause.
In 1998 Mr. Wright won the 24th Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition, which led to his debut at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. He won the Sydney International Competition in 2000, and at the San Antonio International Piano Competition in 2003 he received the gold medal as well as best performance awards for a romantic work and a commissioned piece. The latter two showed in the following solo pieces.
Chopin's Polonaise in A flat, known as the Heroic Polonaise, is one of the best-known concert piano pieces. With Mr. Wright, the most familiar phrases had life and insight, and nuances in sudden changes of mood. Even in the lyrical moments there was a constant churning underneath.
When it was finished someone near me exclaimed, "Oh, wow!" I concurred.
After the rather vigorous clapping died down, Mr. Wright said, modestly, "I wasn't expecting that."
The piece of the evening was "Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues" by Frederic Rzewski, who is noted for incorporating "socio-historical themes" into his compositions. Mr. Wright said that the work was like a factory tour. Starting at the bottom of the keyboard, it chugged up to the middle of the instrument in clusters, literally with fist and elbow, to depict the noisy machinery of the mill.
The effect was an amazing amalgam of sound and music and approached being, as he had warned, "louder than you might like." It receded to a few notes, became bluesy, and then built with a vigorous, weighty drive to the extreme ends of the keyboard. If the expression "dazzling technique" seems like an overstatement, you should have been there.
Then, more lyrical, still bluesy sections portrayed various workers in the mill; perhaps one could sense different personalities striving to be themselves against the mechanistic surroundings. The machinery took over again, with arms on the keyboard leading to a stroke-of-genius lighter ending at the very top of the keyboard that brought delighted chuckles before the standing ovation.
- The East Hampton Star


"La Nacion (Costa Rica)"

A packed National Theatre on Friday opened the 2010 season of the National Symphony Orchestra (OSN). The concert had as it's stars Conductor Chosei Komatsu and guest pianist Roger Wright.
With the piano placed in front of the orchestra came Roger Wright, who with his youth and elegance began to delight the audience with Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor for piano and Orchestra, op. 18.
.........a performance pervaded with the spirit of the work, very expressive and loaded with feeling
Closed eyes, red face, and dancing hands on the keyboard visually added to the spectacle of the performance. Not only does Wright deliver the work, he seems to live it fully. The audience placed their eyes and ears on this guest pianist and thus remained hypnotized throughout the three movements of the piece.
Minutes later, after the intense course of the work, the piano fell silent and the ovation for the pianist did not wait.....the public greeted Wright with shouts of Bravo, bravo! He appreciated the gesture with fine and elegant greetings, consistent with his particular style of caressing the keys of his instrument.
At intermission, Wright became visible and near to the audience so much that some asked for autographs and others crushed in praise. One was the Minister of Culture, Maria Elena Carballo, "Wonderful! Wonderful!" He responded with a simple thank you."
- La Nacion (Costa Rica)


"The Washington Post"

By Stephen Brookes, Published: February 27, 2012

Anyone feeling a little trampled by the thundering herds of virtuosi around town these days would have done well to head down to the National Gallery of Art on Sunday night, where pianist Roger Wright put on a program of impressionistic works that was remarkable for its extraordinary freshness, subtlety and originality of thought. It’s hard to over-praise the relatively unknown Wright; his technique is powerful and honed to a razor-like edge, but even more impressive is the rare spontaneity and vitality in his playing — and the sense of a voraciously hungry mind.
Wright (who is also a Scrabble virtuoso who won the national championship in 2004) alternated lighter and darker pieces throughout the evening. Charles Tomlinson Griffes’s shimmering, chromatic 1915 work “The White Peacock” was balanced against the propulsive “Masks” (1980) by the American composer Robert Muczynski, while the simple melodies and drifting arpeggios of Scott McClain’s “Snow” played to great effect against the infinite complexities of Debussy’s “Masques” and “L’Isle joyeuse.”
Wright played them all with riveting detail and insight, but the centerpiece of the evening was a reading of Maurice Ravel’s 1908 “Gaspard de la nuit” that was about as fine a performance of this pianistic tour de force as you could ever hope to hear. Wright seemed exceptionally attuned to its elusive, otherworldly beauties, from the delicately shaded “Ondine” movement to the wild and almost frightening “Scarbo” that closes the work.
Wright then cleared the air with Frederic Rzewski’s colorful reworking of “Down by the Riverside” and Mily Balakirev’s finger-breaking “Islamey Oriental Fantasy,” a showstopper played with both precision and explosive fire. That brought Wright a sustained standing ovation, but it may have been the encore — Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in D, Op. 23 No. 4 — that stole the show, with a quiet, understated lyricism that went straight to the heart.
Brookes is a freelance writer. - The Washington Post


"The St. Petersburg Times"


"Wright is indeed a phenomenal pianist, but he is also a profoundly insightful and imaginative artist who is fully aware that along with a virtuoso technique goes an awesome responsibility: making music. Indeed, what concerns him are not just the notes, but what goes on in between them."
- The St. Petersburg Times


Discography

Piano Masterpieces
Roger Wright In Concert
Piano Favorites
Evocations
At The River

Photos

Bio

You recognize it immediately when you hear it. A long, arching, beautiful line that sings naturally, the way a fine singer sings. A true pianissimo poised just above audiblity, natural gradations of sonority between very soft and very loud, and a thundering fortissmo that resounds without clamor or ugly overtones. A way of voicing chords so that inner voices have their own dappled color and richness. A projection of personality that makes interpretation highly individual but illuminates rather than exploits the music. These are some of the characteristics that mark the true romantic pianist, a pianist who can unlock the secrets of the great romantic composers. All of that and more was on display in Roger Wrights recital Sunday at the Phillips Collection. --The Washington Post

With delectable quotes such as audible chocolate (Costa Rica News), critics from around the globe have proclaimed Roger Wright as one of the great piano virtuosos. The San Antonio Express-News likened the audience response of his 2009 performance of Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto to the clamoring crowd at a rock concert.

Highlights from 2012 include Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 at the California Theater in San Jose, and a recital for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. which was hailed by The Washington Post for its "extraordinary freshness, subtlety and originality of thought" and went on to say, "even more impressive is the rare spontaneity and vitality in his playing-and the sense of a voraciously hungry mind."

As soloist, Mr. Wright has appeared with the Houston Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfnica Nacional de Costa Rica, among others. He has also performed solo recitals at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall and Steinway Hall in New York, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the Chicago Cultural Center, Festival at Round Top (Texas), and for Los Angeles County Museum of Art's series, "Sunday's Live." In 2001 he performed to an uproarious crowd at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, for the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

His performances have broadcast on ABC, CBS, NBC, ABC Australia, CBC Radio Canada, WFMT-FM Chicago, Texas Public Radio, Classical KUSC and 105.1 K-Mozart in Los Angeles, WQXR in New York City, and on David Dubal's celebrated series, Reflections from the Keyboard, to name a few.

Born in Houston in 1974, Roger Wright began his piano training at the age of twelve, and by the age eighteen debuted with the Houston Symphony. While still in college, Wright began to attract notice from audiences and an ever-widening circle of critics for his virtuoso technique and profound musicality.In 2001 The West Australian praised his album Piano Masterpieces as CD of the Year. Massive airplay of Piano Masterpieces earned composer Peter Sculthorpe the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) award for the Most Performed Contemporary Classical Composition of 2001.

Roger Wright received his bachelor's degree magna cum laude from the University of Houston and his master's degree from Rice University.His principal teachers have been Ruth Tomfohrde, Carol Barwick, Abbey Simon, Horacio Gutierrez, John Perry, and John and Nancy Weems.

When not performing, Roger Wright revels in the cultivation of young musicians. He is frequently called upon to conduct master classes. He maintains a private studio from which his students have earned prizes in national and international competitions.

Mr. Wright is also one of the most recognized Scrabble players in the world under his more casual name "Trey." He holds the winning title for the 2004 National Scrabble Championship, a five-day tournament held in New Orleans and televised by ESPN. In this capacity he has also appeared on NBC's Today Show and Identity, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Show, CBS's Sunday Morning, as well as CNN and GSN's Lingo.