Among his generation of concert artists, pianist Awadagin Pratt is acclaimed for his musical insight and intensely involving performances in recital and with symphony orchestras. 

Born in Pittsburgh, Awadagin Pratt began studying piano and violin at an early age. At the age of 16 he entered the University of Illinois where he studied piano, violin, and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he became the first student in the school’s history to receive diplomas in three performance areas – piano, violin and conducting. 

In 1992, Mr. Pratt won the Naumburg International Piano Competition and two years later was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Since then, he has played numerous recitals throughout the US including performances at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. His many orchestral performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra and the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis, National and Detroit symphonies among many others. Summer festival engagements include appearances at Ravinia, Blossom, Wolftrap, Caramoor, Aspen and the Hollywood Bowl. 

Also an experienced conductor, Pratt has conducted programs with the Toledo, New Mexico, Vancouver WA, Winston-Salem and Santa Fe symphonies, the Northwest Sinfonietta, the Concertante di Chicago and several orchestras in Japan. His most recent conducting activities include play/conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, conducting performances of Porgy and Bess with the Greensboro Opera, and conducting a concert featuring the music of jazz great Ornette Coleman with Bang on a Can at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In summer 2023, he begins his tenure as the Music Director of the Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra in Ohio. 

A great favorite on college and university performing arts series and a strong advocate of music education, Awadagin Pratt participates in numerous residency and outreach activities wherever he appears. He has created a program called Black in America during which he tells about his encounters with the police, especially while driving, starting when he was a teenager and continuing through his post graduate studies and into his adulthood. His narrative is interspersed with live music performed by Pratt and students, followed by a panel discussion regarding the state of race in America today. Michelle Bauer Carpenter produced a documentary about Black in America which aired on 90 PBS stations across the country earlier this year. 

Mr. Pratt’s recordings for Angel/EMI include A Long Way From Normal, an all Beethoven Sonata CD, Live From South Africa, Transformations and an all Bach disc with the St. Lawrence String Quartet. His most recent recordings are the Brahms Sonatas for Cello and Piano with Zuill Bailey for Telarc and a recording of the music of Judith Lang Zaimont with the Harlem String Quartet. 

Awadagin Pratt is also the founder and Artistic Director of the Art of the Piano and produces a festival every spring featuring performances and conversations with well-known pianists and piano faculty members. This spring, he also organized the first Nina Simone Piano Competition for Black Pianists in collaboration with the Cincinnati Symphony, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the Art of the Piano Festival. The competition was made possible by a generous grant from the Sphinx Organization. 

Also through the Art of the Piano Foundation and inspired by a stanza from T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, Mr. Pratt commissioned seven composers – Jessie Montgomery, Alvin Singleton, Judd Greenstein, Tyshawn Sorey, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Paola Prestini and Peteris Vasks – to compose works for piano and strings or piano, strings and a Roomful of Teeth. Mr. Singleton’s work was premiered with the New World Symphony in April 2021 and during the 21/22, 22/23 and 23/24 seasons, Mr. Pratt has or will have performed the Montgomery concerto with more than 30 US orchestras, including the Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Milwaukee symphonies and The Minnesota Orchestra. All seven works were recorded in summer 2022 with the chamber orchestra A Far Cry for New Amsterdam Records. 

In July 2023, Pratt joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as a Professor of Piano. He was previously a Professor of Piano and Artist in Residence at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati for nineteen years. 

In recognition of his achievements in the field of classical music, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins University as well as honorary doctorates from the Berklee College of Music and Illinois Wesleyan and delivered commencement addresses at those institutions as well as at Peabody Conservatory. 

Awadagin Pratt is a Yamaha artist. For more information, please visit