The first thing that has to appeal to me in any new piece of piano music is how effectively it will communicate and project to the listener from a variety of different perspectives. The sonic qualities of the instrument are so versatile and so vast in color and emotion that I’m very impressed when a composer can really illustrate these aspects in innovative ways. Since I’ve dedicated much of my performing career to pioneering different areas of “concert-theater” for the piano, I often look for how beautifully, dynamically and creatively a composer can write for the instrument while engaging the spirit and qualities of the performer’s body—whether it’s incorporating the singing or speaking voice (as an actor), using movement or even adding other mediums like electronics, video, etc. Each piece, whether it’s theatrical or just pianistic, simple or virtuosic, has to speak to me and inspire me while I seek to internalize the composer’s intentions. A great piece of piano music will often carry me to another place, guiding me to discover deeper parts of myself. There are risks involved in this—the performer and the composition meld together, becoming one, which ultimately communicates something personal from within. The fascinating result often is how this touches each individual listener (or viewer) in completely different ways.
I’m very proud of the important works I’ve had written for me during the past twenty years of my career. Frederic Rzewski‘s monumental De Profundis and Jerome Kitzke‘s Sunflower Sutra (in addition to the numerous other new works like these which I’ve commissioned and am currently commissioning) are powerful edifices that have stimulated and expanded my capacities as a musician, actor and artist.