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Steinway Artist KEVIN COLE has delighted audiences with a repertoire that includes the best of 20th-century American music. Kevin Cole's performances, especially his interpretation of Gershwin, have prompted accolades from some of the foremost critics in American music.
Cole's recent symphonic engagements include sold-out appearances with the San Francisco Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Boston Philharmonic, the Indianapolis Symphony, the BBC Concert Orchestra (Covent Garden Festival 2001), the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra. The Ravinia Festival performance was named one of the ten best concerts of 2000 by the Chicago Tribune.
A native of Bay City, Michigan, Cole graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy and soon after garnered the praises of legends like Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg, Hugh Martin, Burton Lane, Stephen Sond-heim, and members of the Jerome Kern and Gershwin families. After hearing a very young Kevin Cole play, Irving Berlin said, "Kid, if I could play like that, I would never have become a songwriter!"
A step in a new direction featured Cole as a singer/pianist in Gershwin's Lady, Be Good! at the Teatro Nacional Sao Carlos, in Lisbon, Portugal. Performances for the Chicago Humanities Festival include two concerts with opera great William Warfield in tribute to Duke Ellington and George Gershwin, and an evening, Around the World with Cole Porter. Cole has had the pleasure of opening for Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Band as well as sharing a concert evening with Broadway musical legend Barbara Cook. He was invited to be a featured performer with the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. Cole has played at the requests of such notables as Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley and the legendary Muhammad Ali.
Kevin Cole's awards as music director and archivist include Joseph Jefferson Award, Forever Plaid, (Chicago, 1995); Bay Area Critics' Award, Oh, Kay! (San Francisco, 1994); and The Boys From Syracuse (1995), San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. Additionally, he arranged and directed music for Sweet, Smart, Rodgers & Hart, Pasadena Playhouse, and two original revues (with writer/ director Leeds Bird): R.S.V.P. Jerome Kern and The Gershwin Years. As artistic director for Ravinia Festival's new Steans Institute Musical Theatre Initiative, Cole presented staged readings of his new Dietz/ Schwartz musical, A Shine On Your Shoes. His solo debut at Chicago's Orchestra Hall was entirely his own compositions. Currently, a piano concerto and three new musicals absorb Kevin's free time.
His discography includes a critically acclaimed Lady Be Good: First Recordings of the Unknown George Gershwin (Pro Arte) and Gramophone 1995 Album of the Year, Oh, Kay! with soprano Dawn Upshaw (Elektra/Nonesuch). A new solo piano album, Cole Plays Gershwin, will be released later this year. Kevin has also recorded four discs for Yamaha's Disklavier Pianos.
Performances during Summer 2002 include the Ravinia Festival; the Grant Park Symphony (Chicago); Interlochen Center for the Arts (Michigan); and concerts with London's Philharmonia, Benjamin Zander conducting; the Minnesota Orchestra, Keith Lockhart conducting; and the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, both conducted by David Alan Miller.