Gregg Kallor is a composer and pianist whose music fuses the classical and jazz traditions he loves into a new, deeply personal language. The New York Times writes: “At home in both jazz and classical forms, [Kallor] writes music of unaffected emotional directness. Leavened with flashes of oddball humor, his works succeed in drawing in the listener – not as consumer or worshipful celebrant, but in a spirit of easygoing camaraderie.”
During the 2016-2017 season, Kallor unveiled his setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s terrifying short story, The Tell-Tale Heart, with mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Pojanowski and cellist Joshua Roman, featuring a semi-staging by Sarah Meyers (Metropolitan Opera) and lighting design by Shawn Kaufman. The two sold-out performances were presented by The Crypt Sessions in collaboration with On Site Opera in a 100-year old vaulted crypt beneath the Church of the Intercession in New York City in October 2016 – just before Halloween. Following on the heels of the acclaimed premiere, Kallor reprised the piece with soprano Melody Moore and Joshua Roman at SubCulture NY. The New York Observer wrote: “I can’t think of a better opera to become a new Halloween tradition.”
Also in the 2016-2017 season season, Kallor collaborated with the Attacca Quartet for the premiere of his new work for piano quintet, Some Not Too Distant Tomorrow. The piece is a tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., commissioned by the Classical Recording Foundation and funded by a generous gift from Linda and Stuart Nelson. The performance was presented at the Sheen Center in New York City on June 5, 2017. And on June 21, 2017, Joshua Roman conducted the Seattle Youth Orchestra in the premiere of Kallor’s new work for string orchestra, Mouthful of Forevers, commissioned by Town Hall Seattle.
Kallor is the Composer-In-Residence at SubCulture in New York City, named one of Time Out New York‘s best new music venues. The first season of his residency featured world premieres of a solo piano suite; new songs with soprano Melody Moore, mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala and baritone Matthew Worth; and a piano trio with violinist Miranda Cuckson and cellist Joshua Roman.
Kallor joined an all-star roster of musicians, including Joyce DiDonato, Yo-Yo Ma, Jamie Barton, Isabel Leonard, Susanna Phillips, Anthony McGill, actors Sharon Stone and Ansel Elgort, and many more, for An AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing for Hope. Kallor recorded two songs for the album, with Melody Moore – “One Child,” which Kallor composed for this project – and Matthew Polezani. All profits from the sale of this album will go to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.
Kallor’s music videos are “a visual feast for the eyes,” writes Feast of Music: “Espresso Nirvana” (think caffeinated hijinks) and “Broken Sentences,” which features the 88 artist-designed pianos that Sing For Hope placed in parks and public spaces all around NYC from June 1-15, 2013, where anyone could play them. Gregg did. A lot.
Kallor’s solo recording, A Single Noon, is a musical tableau of life in New York City that evokes moments of caffeinated bliss, embarrassing subway mishaps, and the buzzing energy of a city driven by dynamic, thoughtful, talented, and slightly crazy people. Fred Hersch calls A Single Noon “the work of an extraordinary pianist, a composer of great distinction and a true conceptualist… This ambitious and unique suite takes us somewhere that is very deeply heartfelt and dazzlingly executed. This is 21st-century music that has clearly absorbed the past and looks to a bright and borderless musical future.” Kallor premiered A Single Noon at Carnegie Hall in 2011.
Kallor’s previous album, Exhilaration – Dickinson and Yeats Songs, features his song-settings of poems by Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, and Christina Rossetti sung by mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala. Opera News wrote: “Kallor knows how to make these words sing, and Zabala gives perfect flight to them.”
The Abby Whiteside Foundation presented Kallor’s Carnegie Hall debut in Weill Recital Hall in 2007. Harris Goldsmith wrote: “It took but a few impeccably shaped phrases to make it plain that Kallor is a formidably well-trained technician and a master of stylish proportion as well… This superb recital debut truly established a new, important voice in our musical annals.”
Kallor (pronounced “KAY-ler”) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut. He began improvising on the piano in his home as soon as he could walk over to it, began taking classical piano lessons when he was six, and added jazz lessons a few years later. He graduated from Tufts University with a degree in American Studies. Kallor lives in New York City, where he makes excellent use of his MetroCard.