Assistant Professor of Music Mark Olivieri was recently one of only 10 American composers commissioned to write works based on American musical idioms, which are featured on award-winning pianist Nicholas Phillips’ album, “American Vernacular,” which was released by New Focus Recordings in January.
Olivieri’s three-part recordings for solo piano, titled “Spectacular Vernaculars,” received high praise from the New York Times, describing his contributions to the project as “glittering pop-infused ètudes.”
Additionally, the album was named “Album of the Week” on Q2 Music (WQXR/WNYC) in January.
Olivieri says that his pieces are homages to musicians such as Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ahmad Jamal and De La Soul, who strongly influenced both his “approach to composition and…the way I think about music.”
“Like the improvisations I played for dance students each piece is not limited to one musical style but weaves in and out of various musical rhetorics such as funk tango blues and jazz,” he says.
Olivieri joined the HWS faculty in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, a M.M. from Ithaca College Music Conservatory, and a B.M. from Heidelberg College. Prior to arriving at the Colleges, Olivieri served as Composer-in-Residence in the Department of Dance at The College at Brockport. He has played and composed for luminaries like the Jose Limon, Sean Curran, Doug Varone, and Smith Dance Companies. His ongoing collaborations as both pianist and composer with dance icon Bill Evans, have led to numerous performances of new works.
To sample the American Vernacular album, visit http://www.newfocusrecordings.com/catalogue/american-vernacular.