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Kevin Oldham (Piano, Arranger)

Born: August 30, 1960 - Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Died: March 11, 1993 - Kansas City, Missouri, USA

The American pianist, Kevin Oldham, was born to musical parents in 1960 in Kansas City. He began piano studies at an early age with a well-respected teacher, Latha Blim, for whom he would always have the greatest affection and admiration. He spent three undergraduate years at Northwestern University under the tutelage of Gui Mombaerts and completed his formal training with Herbert Stessin and Sascha Gorodnitzki at The Juilliard School in New York City, where he received both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees.

In 1980, Kevin Oldham made his orchestral debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Erich Kunzel, performing Sergei Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and gave numerous recitals in New York, Washington, D.C. (Kennedy Center debut, 1986), Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, and several European capitals.

Kevin Oldham was a musician worthy of serious consideration. His pianism was suffused with vitality, humor, and, last but not least, an inordinate capacity for blazing virtuosity. As a matter of interest, it is noted that Oldham's creative talents were farreaching. Throughout his life, he enjoyed composing, and he devoted himself almost exclusively to writing music after he was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. Three years later, he gave the premiere performance, under the aegis of The Festival of the Atlantic, of his own Concerto for Piano, Op. 14, before a wildly enthusiastic audience of 6,000. He had a fine baritone voice and sang in the Marble Collegiate Church Choir. A wickedly funny cartoonist, he excelled at impersonations and became infamous among his many friends for his renditions of his own outrageously bawdy cabaret tunes. He was an articulate and engaging speaker, appearing as a guest on many radio and television programs.

Kevin Oldham's questing intelligence and curiosity; his eclectic tastes, which included, but went far beyond, the tenets of tne standard repertoire; his remarkable prowess at the keyboard - all these traits are here for us to savor and admire in his unusual album of collection of piano transcriptions, some of them by him.

Kevin Oldham is a thoughtful artist. He takes chances, even at the risk of fa1ling on his face. I would rather spend an evening listening to Mr. Oldham than be bored to death by one of the bloodless, note-perfect, arpeggio machines that perennially win "best-in-show" in the international competitions. . . . Mr. Oldham is something much more rare-an original musician. He has genuine ideas about his repertory; he presents familiar music from a fresh vantage point, a philosophy that can only be encouraged.
Tim Page, New York Times (November 10, 1985)

Source: Liner notes to the album 'The Art of the Piano Transcription', played by Kevin Oldham (VAI Audio,, 1995; Author: Karen Kushner)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2007)

Kevin Oldham: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Bach-Oldham-Nichols: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Oldham, Kevin (Artists with AIDS)

Kevin Oldham Memorial (NY Times)

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Last update: June 13, 2007 08:55:44