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Standing ovation at Carnegie Hall for MLK Visiting Scholar Donal Fox

World premiere of his concerto "Peace Out"
Photograph by Lou Jones

MLK Visiting Scholar Donal Fox performed the world premiere of his concerto "Peace Out for Improvised Piano and Orchestra" at Carnegie Hall on Monday, Nov. 30, as part of a program titled "Traditions and Transmigrations."

Fox received a standing ovation from the Carnegie Hall audience for his performance and composition, and a glowing review from Anthony Tommasini at The New York Times. Calling the concerto "exceptionally interesting," Tommasini writes: 

"Mr. Fox, a composer, pianist and improviser who deftly draws from jazz and classical contemporary traditions, was the soloist in his intense, episodic 15-minute work. The blazingly scored orchestra part is fully composed. But the piano part, though well plotted, includes swaths of improvised, interactive music ... The piece opens with a fitful section, all gnashing brass, spiraling strings and searing harmonic angst. Mr. Fox’s piano playing, bursting with violent, keyboard-spanning runs, drove the music. A searching middle section quotes fragments of a Charlie Parker blues tune, 'Now’s the Time.' After a steely solo piano cadenza, the piece concludes with a pensive finale based on a descending, and strangely haunting, four-note refrain." 

As an MLK Visiting Scholar, Fox is based in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, where he is giving a Music and Theater Arts class in musical improvisation, guiding students as they examine relationships between improvisation, composition and performance from a score. Commenting on the class, Peter Child, MIT professor of music, says, "The results have been amazing."

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