Webinar Series: “Diversity and Inclusion in Piano Repertoire and Pedagogy”
Queer by Default? Thoughts on Musical Sexuality and Performing Queer Composers
Adam Tendler discusses his work with queer composers, his work as a queer composer, matters of queer themes, motivations, representation, and even the provocative question of a “queer sound” in concert music. Addressing work of composers past and present, and inviting a dialogue with participants, we will unpack and explore the sometimes delicate but always exhilarating opportunities that performers gain in interfacing with queer artists and acting as ambassadors for queer art and activism.
A recent recipient of the Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists, Adam Tendler has been called a “remarkable and insightful musician…who made his piano sound like its legs were nowhere near the ground” by the LA Times, “a virtuoso pianist” by The Village Voice, “joyfully rocking out at his keyboard” (New York Times). He has been called a“musical mastermind” by the Houston Press, a “probing and persuasive…quietly charismatic… intrepid… outstanding… maverick pianist” by The New Yorker, a “modern-music evangelist” by Time Out New York, and a “formidable” pianist “with a showman’s knack” (San Francisco Chronicle) who “has managed to get behind and underneath the notes, living inside the music and making poetic sense of it all,” by The Baltimore Sun, who continued, “if they gave medals for musical bravery, dexterity and perseverance, Adam Tendler would earn them all.” New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini reported that Tendler played an outdoor performance of John Cage’s music “captivatingly,” and that “the wondrously subdued sounds silenced many, who listened closely even as street bustle and chirping birds blended in.”London critic Frances Wilson described Tendler’s memorized performance of Morton Feldman’s Palais de Mari at London’s St. John’s Smith Square as “a concentrated listening experience…meditative, intense and beautifully poised.” The Herald-Tribune Sarasota wrote, “By performing [John Cage’s] Sonatas and Interludes not only from memory, but in a darkened room, no light on the piano at all, he played with a natural authority demanding his audience to turn inward and tune in only to the music.” And the new music blog, “i care if you listen,” described Tendler’s recent performance at The Kitchen in New York City as “virtuosic… eerie… agonizing… distressing,” and one audience member recently raved, “this was the most offensive musical performance I have experienced in my sixty years of listening to music. Please take me off your emailing list. The pianist appeared to be quite competent, although he hinted that he enjoyed making the audience suffer.”
Recognized as a leading interpreter of American music, Tendler has performed solo recitals in all fifty United States, including solo engagements at Lincoln Center, San Francisco Symphony / SoundBox, Carnegie Hall, (le) Poisson Rouge, The Kitchen, the Green-Wood Cemetery Catacombs, The Met Brauer, Knockdown Center, Grace Cathedral (San Francisco), The Broad Museum, Symphony Space, National Sawdust, Issue Project Room, Roulette, Art Institute of Chicago, 92nd Street Y, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Joyce Theatre, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Columbia University, The Fisher Center at Bard College, New York’s Sheen Center, Princeton University, New York University, Bennington College, Kenyon College, Boston Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory, Portland State University, University of Nebraska, University of Alaska and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, as well as artistic landmarks like Houston’s Rothko Chapel, The Maverick Concert Hall, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Rubin Museum, Museum of the Moving Image, Joe’s Pub, Stonewall Inn, and James Turrell’s Skypace in Sarasota, where he was the space’s first musical performer.
Tendler’s association with the work of John Cage includes three sold-out recitals at the Rubin Museum in New York City (a memorized performance of the complete Sonatas and Interludes, a realization of Cage’s 10,000 Things, and Cage’s Concert for piano and orchestra), a featured recital in the “Cage100” festival at Symphony Space, listed by New York Magazine as one of the Top 10 Classical Music Events of 2012, a Cage recital at the Maverick Theatre in Woodstock NY, where 4’33” had its premiere, as well as recordings and masterclasses of the composer’s work for Edition Peters, Cage’s sole publisher, in their digital music platform, Tido. Tendler curated and performed in a three-part retrospective of Cage and his circle’s music at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles over three months in 2018.
Tendler’s memoir, 88×50, about the year he performed solo recitals in all fifty states, was a 2014 Kirkus Indie Book of the Month and Lambda Literary Award Nominee. He also recorded an audio version of the memoir. He maintains the blog, The Dissonant States, and his second book, tidepools, saw its release in December 2018.
As a concert programmer, Tendler has organized a number of happenings in New York and beyond that focus on community building in the classical music community, including 24-pianist performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, and the collaborative concert, A Very George Crumb Christmas.
He has recorded the music of J.S. Bach, CPE Bach, Amy Beach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, John Cage, George Crumb, Edvard Grieg, Charles Griffes, Lou Harrison, Alan Hovhaness, Edward MacDowell, Erik Satie, as well as the premiere recording of Edward T. Cone’s 21 Little Preludes. Tendler released an album of piano music by American composer Robert Palmer for New World Records in 2019.
A graduate of Indiana University, Tendler lives in New York City and, in addition to guest lectures at the New School and Manhattan School of Music, serves on the piano faculty of Third Street Music School Settlement, the country’s first community music school.
Adam Tendler is a Yamaha Artist.