Daniel Pesca, piano
Dr. Pesca has played the world premieres of over fifty solo and chamber works, many of which were composed for him. In the process, he has shared the stage with many leading new music ensembles, including Ensemble Signal, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Ensemble Dal Niente. In recent years, Dr. Pesca has performed at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, twice on Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Concerts, at June in Buffalo, and at other festivals devoted to contemporary music in Spain, Italy, Greece, and Vermont.
Prior to his appointment at UMBC, Dr. Pesca was Artist-in-Residence, Director of the Chamber Music Program, and Lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of Chicago from 2016–2019. At UChicago, Daniel collaborated frequently with faculty and student composers, including Sam Pluta, Augusta Read Thomas, Aaron Helgeson, and Tonia Ko. He also performed with ensembles-in-residence Imani Winds and Spektral Quartet, and presented duo recitals with Paul Dwyer (assistant principal cellist, Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra). Dr. Pesca is a founding member of the Grossman Ensemble, the ensemble-in-residence at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition at the University of Chicago. In its first season, the Grossman Ensemble premiered works by Shulamit Ran, David Rakowski, Kate Soper, Chen Yi, and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, among others.
Among his past concerto credits are a performance of the Elliott Carter Double Concerto at Carnegie Hall, as well as appearances with the University of Michigan Symphony Band, the Orchestra of the League of Composers, the Slee Sinfonietta, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Oberlin Sinfonietta. Dr. Pesca spent three summers as an Orchestral Piano Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School, and has continued performing with orchestras, including the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, whom he has accompanied on international tour. He has also worked as rehearsal pianist for soloists with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, preparing works by Penderecki and Saariaho from open score.
Dr. Pesca is a founding member and co-director of the Zohn Collective, established in 2017 with violinist Hanna Hurwitz (Denison), guitarist Dieter Hennings (University of Kentucky), conductor Tim Weiss (Oberlin), and composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon (Eastman). The ensemble’s projects so far include a major opera production in Guadalajara, Mexico; residencies at Notre Dame University and Northern Kentucky University; and an upcoming collaboration with Oberlin College, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and International House at the University of Chicago. The ensemble recently celebrated the release of its first commercial recording: a major song cycle by Zohn-Muldoon performed alongside renowned contemporary music soprano Tony Arnold. The collective has garnered support from the National Endowment for the Arts and US Artists International, among others.
Dr. Pesca is featured on other CDs—including a recording on Urtext Classics of Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s piano concerto, Diaries, which was premiered by and dedicated to him. He has recently made premiere recordings of new solo works by Augusta Read Thomas, Bernard Rands, and Matthew Schreibeis, all slated for release on Nimbus and Albany within the year.
Dr. Pesca has an twelve-year duo partnership with flutist Sarah Frisof (University of Maryland—College Park). Together, Dr. Pesca and Dr. Frisof have performed over forty recitals, at venues such as the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Arts Club of Washington, and universities, conservatories, and conferences across the country. Their recording of the music of Joseph Schwantner was released on Centaur Records in July 2016, to critical acclaim. Their second CD, a cross-section of works by female composers of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, is due to be released soon.
Among Dr. Pesca’s recent works are a sextet commissioned by the American Wild Ensemble, which was performed over a dozen times at national parks across the country and is recorded on the ensemble’s debut album; a song cycle commissioned in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, which was premiered under the Saturn V rocket at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama; and a series of small works for the Rochester-based chamber collective First Muse.
Among his upcoming projects are a song cycle for tenor Zach Finkelstein, setting poetry by Irving Feldman, and a piece for cellist Audrey Snyder, in collaboration with video artist Xuan. Dr. Pesca’s recent music has been supported by grants from New Music USA and the NEA, among others.
Dr. Pesca holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, where he led a class on contemporary keyboard music for four years, played a leading role in the student-run new music collective OSSIA, and studied piano with Nelita True. He also studied piano with Logan Skelton and Rita Sloan. He counts Robert Morris, David Liptak, and Betsy Jolas among his composition mentors, and he has taken lessons and masterclasses with Hans Abrahamsen, Chaya Czernowin, and Louis Andriessen. In addition to his appointments at UMBC and UChicago, Dr. Pesca has taught at Ithaca College, Syracuse University, and Northeastern Illinois University.