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KU Faculty, Jazz Ensemble to Perform Piece Commissioned by Grammy-Winning Composer

by Kutztown University

KU Faculty, Jazz Ensemble to Perform Piece Commissioned by Grammy-Winning Composer

Kutztown University Jazz Ensemble I will perform “Hibiscus,” commissioned by the ensemble from Geoff Keezer, winner of the 2023 Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for “Refuge” from his recent album “Playdate.” Written for classical pianist, jazz bassist and large jazz ensemble, this piece will be performed at its world premiere 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 3, Schaeffer Auditorium. The event is free to attend and open to the public.

Keezer is a Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist, composer and arranger from the United States. He has collaborated with a number of renowned musicians throughout his career, including Art Blakely, Wayne Shorter, Diana Krall, Christ Botti, David Sanborn, Diane Reeves, Christian McBride and Sting. Keezer has released several critically acclaimed albums under his own name; his compositions and arrangements have been performed by numerous orchestras and ensembles around the world. At 18 years old, he won the Great American Jazz Piano Competition and has been a faculty member at several prestigious music institutions, currently teaching piano at the Juilliard School in New York.

Keezer was asked to write a piece for two music faculty members: Dr. Maria Asteriadou, piano, and Dr. Scott Lee, bass, accompanied by KU’s Jazz Ensemble I.

Asteriadou, a Greek pianist, is highly respected for her exceptional talent, distinct personality, grace and mastery in various genres of music. She has presented solo recitals and performed as a soloist with orchestras in several important concert venues worldwide, including Europe, Canada, South America and the United States. Asteriadou has collaborated with famous artists to present chamber music performances and has worked with esteemed orchestras such as the Moscow Radio Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Athens Camerata. Her love for her homeland and enthusiasm for contemporary music has led her to premiere many notable works by renowned Greek composers, as well as work frequently with American composers. She has also recorded the complete piano and string chamber works of Nikos Skalkottas and has won numerous awards and prizes.

Asteriadou’s educational background includes a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with renowned pianist Constance Keene. In addition, she has received guidance from other respected musicians such as Richard Goode and Gyorgy Sebok. Asteriadou is a highly dedicated and passionate pedagogue, who imparts her knowledge and skills to students at numerous universities and conservatories both in the US and overseas. She is also a board member of the Hellenic American Cultural Foundation located in New York.

Lee, who was initially on track for a tennis career, turned to jazz after being inspired by the Bill Evans Trio with Eddie Gomez. He further developed his skills by studying from books, performing live and taking lessons from esteemed jazz musicians. He went on to perform with many of the all-time great jazz artists including Lee Konitz, Zoot Simms, Al Cohn, Red Rodney, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Werner, Joe Lovano, Nancy Wilson, Chris Conner, Morgana King, Betty Buckley, Helen Merrill, Susannah McCorkle and Anita O’Day. He is one of the most sought-after bassists on the east coast.

For more information, contact KU’s Department of Music at 610-683-4550 or [email protected].