Simone Dinnerstein, pianist
Tift Merritt, singer/songwriter
Saturday, March 23, 2013, at 8 pm
405 Columbia Street, Hudson, NY
The Dinnerstein – Merritt Collaboration
Though Simone Dinnerstein—a classical pianist—and Tift Merritt—a singer-songwriter whose father taught her to play by ear—could not come from more different musical backgrounds,when the two met they immediately realized that their passion for music and performance were kindred, if not the same. Night is a unique collaboration between these two artists in which they unite classical, folk, and rock musical worlds, exploring common terrain and uncovering new musical landscapes.
Night features a set of new songs written especially for the duo by artists including Brad Mehldau, Patty Griffin, and Philip Lasser. Jenny Scheinman, whose previous collaborators include Bill Frissell, David Byrne, and Madeleine Peyroux, has contributed arrangements of some of Tift’s and Simone’s favorite songs. Both artists will perform solo as well—Tift in her own songs, and Simone in some of her favorite selections from the solo classical piano repertoire.
Grammy-nominated songstress Tift Merritt is a North Carolina native. With her longtime band, she has built a unique and critically acclaimed body of work of sonic short stories and poignant performances. The Wall Street Journal reports that she has a “sound that weaves through country, folk and rock…working in the tradition of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Leonard Cohen.” Of her latest album, See You on the Moon (Fantasy), Paste Magazine raves, “The singer fully inhabits the characters in her songs, whether assuming the role of her grandfather in ‘Feel Of The World’ or wringing out every weary note in the pleading ‘All the Reasons We Don’t Have to Fight.’”
Simone Dinnerstein has been called “the pianists’ pianist of Generation X” by The New Yorker and praised by Time for her “arresting freshness and subtlety.” The New York-based pianist gained an international following because of the remarkable success of her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Released in 2007 on Telarc, it ranked No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales and was named to many “Best of 2007” lists, including those of The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and New Yorker. In 2008, the recording received the prestigious Diapason d’Or Award in France. Her follow-up album, The Berlin Concert, also gained the No. 1 spot on the chart.
Known for her intelligent and emotionally powerful performances, Simone Dinnerstein has been called “a throwback to such high priestesses of music as Wanda Landowska and Myra Hess,” by Slate. Dinnerstein recently signed an exclusive recording agreement with Sony Classical. Her first album, to be released in early 2011, will be an all-Bach disc with Kammerorchester der Staatskapelle Berlin. Dinnerstein’s performance schedule has taken her around the world since her triumphant New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2005, performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Recent and upcoming performances include recitals at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival, La Roqued’Anthéron International Piano Festival, Festival of Radio France and Montpellier, and the Aspen and Ravinia festivals; as well as in Cologne, Paris, London, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Bremen, Rome, and Lisbon, and at the Stuttgart Bach Festival. Highlights also include debut performances with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Dresden Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Kristjan Järvi’s Absolute Ensemble, Tokyo Symphony, Verdi Orchestra in Milan, and Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In New York, she has performed on Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series, and in three sold-out recitals at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is also a frequent performer at (Le) Poisson Rouge, a club presenting all genres of music in the West Village. Dinnerstein has played concerts throughout the United States for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing classical music to non-traditional venues. Among the places she has played are nursing homes, schools, and community centers. Most notably, she gave the first classical music performance in the Louisiana state prison system when she played at the Avoyelles Correctional Center. She also performed at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, in a concert organized by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to coincide with her BSO debut.
In addition, Dinnerstein founded P.S. 321 Neighborhood Concerts, an evening concert series at the Brooklyn public elementary school that her son attends and where her husband teaches fifth grade. The concerts, which feature musicians Dinnerstein has admired and collaborated with during her career, is open to the public and raises funds for the school’s Parent Teacher Association. The musicians performing donate their time and talent to the program. Over the past few years, Dinnerstein has been featured in Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, Classic FM Magazine, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, “O” The Oprah Magazine, Time.com, Slate.com, Sunday (London) Times Magazine, Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, among others, and has appeared on radio programs including BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, NPR’s Morning Edition, Public Radio International’s Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, American Public Media’s Performance Today, Minnesota Public Radio, XM Radio’s Classical Confidential, and on national television in Germany. Dinnerstein is a graduate of the Juilliard School where she was a student of Peter Serkin. She was a winner of the Astral Artist National Auditions and has twice received the Classical Recording Foundation Award. She also studied with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music and in London with Maria Curcio, the distinguished pupil of Artur Schnabel. Simone Dinnerstein lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son. She is managed by Tanja Dorn at IMG Artists and is a Sony Classical artist.
For more information please visit www.simonedinnerstein.com
Songstress Tift Merritt is a North Carolina native. Her father taught her guitar chords and Percy Sledge songs. In her early twenties, though Tift had gigged by herself, she decided she was not very good at music and better suited for writing short stories. She and her dog Lucy started school at the University of North Carolina to study creative writing. There, she met Zeke Hutchins, whose band had just taken a hiatus and who had decided to become a school teacher. With his encouragement and a big box of LPs from the 1970s that they both liked, they started a band. Zeke set drums up in the kitchen of Tift’s farmhouse on the outskirts of town, and they practiced songs at her red piano. The Carbines played Chapel Hill haunts like the Cave, the Cat’s Cradle, and the front porch of the General Store in Bynum. Tift also made a guest appearance on the Two Dollar Pistols with Tift Merritt EP. In 2000, Tift won Merlefest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, and with the help of Ryan Adams, found herself with a manager and a recording contract with Lost Highway Records. The band headed to Los Angeles to record her first release, Bramble Rose, in 2002, produced by Ethan Johns. The record landed on Time’s and The New Yorker’s top ten lists and was called the best debut of the year in any genre by the Associated Press. Tambourine followed in 2004. Produced by George Drakoulias and featuring Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers on guitar, Tambourine was a soul-rock throwdown, Grammy-nominated for Country Album of the Year, even though it was really not a country album. It was also nominated for three Americana Music Awards. Merritt opened for Elvis Costello, recorded Austin City Limits, releasing the performance as a live DVD, and made Home Is Loud, a document of the tour’s homecoming concert in Raleigh, North Carolina. As the tour was winding down, Tift ran away to
Paris looking for her mojo and, without intending to, started writing songs that would become Another Country.
Another Country was released on Fantasy Records in 2008, again with George Drakoulias and her longtime band at the helm. Buckingham Solo, recorded in England, is an intimate concert released on Fantasy in 2009. Also in 2009, Tift had her first art exhibit, Other Countries, bringing the journals and pictures behind Another Country to light. Tift’s latest release, See You On The Moon, produced by Tucker Martine, is her most visceral work to date, and finds her doing what she does best more directly—and better—than she ever has.
Tift Merritt also produces The Spark for KRTS Marfa, Texas Public Radio. The Spark explores the real lives and processes of the people behind great works of art. Guests have included writer Nick Hornby, artist Kiki Smith, and singer-songwriter and Merge co-founder Mac McCaughan. Emmylou Harris, when asked about Tift, said, “I first heard Tift Merritt some years ago during a writers’ night at a small club in Nashville. She stood out like a diamond in a coal patch, and everyone there knew she carried a promise of great things to come.” In 2009, Tift married longtime collaborator Zeke Hutchins. They live in New York City. Tift loves surfing, singing with her longtime bass player Jay Brown, farmers’ markets, independent record stores, anything French, and thunderstorms. If you can’t find her, she has probably rented an apartment with a piano in a town where she doesn’t know anyone and will be back before too long.