Deanna Witkowski – Crossing Boundaries from Chopin to Cole Porter


Deanna Witkowski

Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts has rescheduled the inspiring, versatile musical genius, pianist-composer-arranger-vocalist Deanna Witkowski, to Sunday, October 18 at 2 PM on the Lincoln Hall Steinway in SoulSongs: Crossing Musical Boundaries from Chopin to Cole Porter. ARCA is grateful for the generous support of Kears and Karen Pollock for sponsoring this performance.

Deanna – who moves brilliantly between Brazilian, jazz, classical, and sacred music and consistently thrills audiences with explosive performances that combine virtuosity and heart – has been hailed by the JazzTimes to be on the brink of ”jazz stardom with her keyboard techniques, her imaginative composing and arranging, and her wordless vocalizing. Remember her name.”  

ARCA has reopened in compliance with the Pennsylvania Green Guidelines. Please refrain from attending if you are ill.  Patrons will be asked to sign a waiver upon entrance. Temperatures will be taken before entry. Masks are required for entrance and to be worn inside. Hand sanitizer w ill be available.

Seating is socially distanced to 50% occupancy – a total of 55 tickets. With limited seating, reservations are recommended. Reservations for reserved seats in hall quadrants will be taken by phone. If socially distanced reservations have filled the 50% quota, tickets will not be available at the door.  Families and groups will be seated together. Walk-ins are welcome only if socially distanced seating remains – cash or check at the door. Tickets are Adults $25, Members $20, Students $5. Buy online at: alleghenyriverstone.org or call to reserve 724-659-3153 and pay by cash or check at the door.

In works from her six CDs, Deanna will provide a musical journey from her gorgeous improvisations on Chopin (found on her acclaimed CD Rain drop: Improvisations with Chopin) to hard-swinging, adventurous arrangements of Cole Porter standards (Wide Open Window; Length of Days) to sparkling reimaginings of traditional hymns (Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns) to the “beyond-category” pianism of Mary Lou William’ “Music for the Soul”, the name of Deanna’s upcoming biography of Williams.  Guiding us through this joyous musical experience, Deanna will provide program commentary for this rich and diverse program.

Witkowski’s rare ability to combine jazz with a marked generosity towards her audiences and band members continues to attract jazz and non-jazz fans alike to her music, as evidenced by her win as best pianist at the 2016 HotHouse New York Fans Decision Jazz awards. She has recorded with jazz luminaries bassist John Patitucci, vocalist Kate McGarry, and saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who was an integral member of Witkowski’s quartet for four years. Deanna has also performed and toured with renowned vocalists Lizz Wright, Nnenna Freelon, Erin Bode, Filó Machado, and Vanessa Rubin. Her astonishing sight-reading abilities and prowess as a soloist were in abundant display during her ten year run as the pianist in the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra, the ensemble of top-level New York players that perform new music written by members of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop.

In attempting to categorize Witkowski’s music, one reviewer commented, “I was trying to liken her to another pianist’s style, living or deceased, and I came up with…no one.” Witkowski shares this “beyond category” distinction with Mary Lou Williams (1910-81), the innovative pianist who has become her lifelong mentor. Lecturing and performing Williams’s music at the University of Pittsburgh, Duke University, and most recently as a featured performer with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Witkowski is recognized as a noted Williams scholar. Her upcoming biography, Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul, will be published by Liturgical Press in late 2020.

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