Meet piano soloist Jeremy Denk
Meet piano soloist Jeremy Denk

Meet piano soloist Jeremy Denk

On January 25 and 26 in the Lensic, Pro Musica presents its Orchestra Series IV concerts titled Journeys. Piano soloist Jeremy Denk will perform two concertos, Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25 and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459. The concert also includes Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner’s Bach-inspired Little Moonhead and Joseph Haydn’s celebrated Symphony No. 104, “London.”

 “Mr. Denk is a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs – both for his penetrating intellectual engagement with the music and for the generosity of his playing” (New York Times). Jeremy is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, Musical America’s 2014 Instrumentalist of the Year, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition to performing as a recitalist and soloist with many of the world’s great orchestras, he is an Artistic Partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Jeremy Denk wrote in his article “Every Good Boy Does Fine: A life in piano lessons” (New Yorker, April 2013) that “When I was ten, we moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and I began lessons with a teacher named William Leland. He taught at New Mexico State University but consented to take me on after an audition… At first, lessons were at his gloomy campus studio, but later they were at his house – a ranch house in a modest neighborhood with an enormous, shiny, improbable Bösendorfer grand piano greeting you as you came in the door.”

Jeremy talks about his studies with Mr. Leland, and devotes considerable time to the appropriate use of the metronome. Mr. Leland wrote in his student’s lesson notebook: “Metronome! You need an outside policeman every time the inner policeman breaks down.” Jeremy continues with his own thoughts on the matter: “The clicking monster was also part of Leland’s cunning scheme to prevent me from playing everything as fast as I possibly could. In response to my performance of William Gillock’s Forest Murmurs, Leland writes, ‘Forest Murmurs, not Forest Fire!’”

Denk’s years studying at Indiana University with the Hungarian pianist György Sebők opened up new perspectives about music. Denk wrote that Sebők likened a particular Mozart sonata to a Don Juan serenade, drawing a connection between Mozart’s florid ornamentation and the art of flirtation. Denk responded that “The presence of sex behind Mozart’s ruffles had been mostly unknown to me.”

And then Denk provides this succinct explanation of the art and science behind making music: “The mechanism of bone and muscle brought to bear on the piano is very complex; the hidden responding mechanism inside the piano is also very complex; and the interaction of the two is a lifetime’s study.”

On a more modest note, Jeremy Denk graduated from Las Cruces High School as that “really nerdy student.” At Oberlin College he carried a double major in piano performance and chemistry. Then at Indiana University he had transformative music lessons and subsequently joined the music faculty. Finally, he received his doctorate at The Juilliard School. Mr. Denk said he “was in school forever” until “at some point I decided to trust my own instincts.” He currently lives in New York, teaches “double-degree undergraduates” at Bard College Conservatory of Music, and pursues a busy performance schedule. Jeremy says he remains addicted to the chile peppers of Las Cruces.


Read the entire article here

Listen to Jeremy Denk play Brahms (3:55).


Listen to him talk about his life as a pianist and a writer on the MacArthur Fellows Program (3:06).

Visit his website for more interesting information.

Meet the Music

To learn more about the music, join us one hour before each Pro Musica Lensic concert and hear informative conversations with Music Director Tom O’Connor and the guest artists. Free to ticket holders.

Meet Melinda Wagner

Pro Musica is delighted to announce that the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner will be in Santa Fe for these concerts! You can hear her at each Meet the Music before that evening’s concert at the Lensic (free to ticket holders). She will also be attending the Artist Dinner following Sunday’s concert (reservations required). And she will be the featured guest at the January 27th Coda Circle event (membership required). For more information about the Artist Dinner and Coda Circle, please contact Lydia at (505) 373-2338


505.988.4640 | 

Orchestra Series IV


Lensic Performing Arts Center

Saturday, January 25 at 4 PM

Sunday, January 26 at 3 PM


Pro Musica Orchestra

Thomas O’Connor, conductor

Jeremy Denk, piano


MELINDA WAGNER Little Moonhead     

FELIX MENDELSSOHN Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25

ROBERT SCHUMANN Concert Allegro with Introduction, Op. 134

JOSEPH HAYDN Symphony No. 104 in D Major, “London,” Hob I:104

After Sunday’s concert, join our guest artists Jeremy Denk and Melinda Wagner, Pro Musica musicians, and members of the board at one of our signature Artist Dinners, featuring a delicious 3-course dinner with fine wines. $95 per person ($40 tax-deductible), reservations required through the Pro Musica Box Office, 505-988-4640.

505.988.4640 |



Look for our next newsletter to learn about the music on this concert.

Subscriptions and discounts available exclusively through the Pro Musica Box Office.

Tickets range from $20-$100.

Pro Musica Box Office

505.988.4640 |


Lensic Community Box Office

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