Shai Wosner, piano

Pianist Shai Wosner has attracted international recognition for his exceptional artistry, musical integrity, and creative insight. His performances of a broad range of repertoire—from Beethoven and Schubert to Ligeti and the music of today—reflect a degree of virtuosity and intellectual curiosity that has made him a favorite among audiences and critics, who note his “keen musical mind and deep musical soul” (NPR’s All Things Considered).

Mr. Wosner is Resident Artist of Peoples’ Symphony Concerts (PSC) from 2020 to 2023. Following an inaugural year of online-only performances—including a two-concert Schubertiade and a chamber program with JACK Quartet—Mr. Wosner’s residency continues with in-person performances in New York during the 2021–22 season. Among the works he performs is a new PSC commission, Variations on a Theme of FDR, whose world premiere was originally intended to launch the residency, prior to the recital’s cancellation due to the pandemic. The work is a suite of five variations by five different composers—Derek Bermel, Anthony Cheung, John Harbison, Vijay Iyer, and Wang Lu—who take as their theme a quote from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s address to the Daughters of the American Revolution: “Remember, remember always, that all of us… are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” Each variation is inspired by the story of a particular immigrant chosen by each composer. Mr. Wosner’s idea of collecting variations on a shared theme from a variety of composers was inspired by a similar initiative undertaken two centuries ago by music publisher Anton Diabelli—an effort that led to the composition of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, with which Variations on a Theme of FDR is paired in recital. The world-premiere performances take place at Manhattan’s Washington Irving High School as part of PSC’s annual concert series, and at The Wallis in Beverly Hills. He subsequently performs the work at the Wiener Konzerthaus.

In spring 2022, Mr. Wosner curates and launches a new annual festival at Bard College Conservatory of Music, where he is on the piano faculty. This season’s festival is titled “Signs, Games & Messages” after the collection of pieces by György Kurtág, which Mr. Wosner recorded in 2013 with violinist Jennifer Koh. The festival comprises three concerts devoted to the Hungarian composer’s music, as well as that of composers he was influenced by and whom he influenced. The festival features JACK Quartet performing works by Kurtág and John Zorn, among others; a performance of Kurtág’s seminal, hour-long Kafka-Fragments with soprano Tony Arnold, violinist Movses Pogossian—who also performs solo Bach—and author and former first violinist of the Guarneri Quartet Arnold Steinhardt narrating the violin scene from Kafka’s The Metamorphosis; and an expansive festival finale of works for two pianos, piano four-hands, and percussion by Kurtág, Bartók, Bach, André Hajdu, George Walker, Amy Williams, and more, performed by pianists Gilles Vonsattel, Terrence Wilson, and Mr. Wosner, among other musicians.

Additional highlights of Mr. Wosner’s 2021–22 season include Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with the Jerusalem Symphony and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with The Orchestra Now; a week-long residency at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, culminating in chamber performances of works by Brahms and Fauré; Frank Bridge’s Quintet in D minor, H. 49, in concerts of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; music by J.S. Bach and Brett Dean with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO), presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Candlelight Concert Society (Columbia, MD); Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat major, K. 450, with the Princeton Symphony; Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Albany Symphony; and performances around the U.S. as part of the Zukerman Trio with violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth.

Mr. Wosner records for Onyx Classics, and his most recent album, a selection of Schubert piano sonatas released in March 2020, continued his career-long, critically acclaimed engagement with the composer’s music. This double album completes Mr. Wosner’s recorded series of the composer’s last six sonatas, which he has also performed as a recital series in New York at the 92nd Street Y; in Washington, DC at The Phillips Collection; at Duke University in Durham, NC; and at the Konzerthaus Berlin. Additional recordings include Impromptu, comprising improvisationally inspired works by composers from Beethoven and Schubert to Gershwin and Ives; concertos and capriccios by Haydn and Ligeti with the Danish National Symphony conducted by Nicholas Collon; an all-Schubert solo album featuring a selection of the composer’s folk-inspired piano works; solo works by Brahms and Schoenberg; and works by Schubert paired with new works by Missy Mazzoli. As a chamber musician, Mr. Wosner has recorded Beethoven’s complete sonatas and variations for cello and piano with Ralph Kirshbaum and—for Cedille Records—works by Bartók, Janáček, and Kurtág with his duo partner of many years, violinist Jennifer Koh.

Mr. Wosner is a recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award—a prize he used to commission Michael Hersch’s concerto Along the Ravines, which he performed with the Seattle Symphony and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in its world and European premieres. He was in residence with the BBC as a New Generation Artist, during which he appeared frequently with the BBC orchestras, including conducting Mozart concertos from the keyboard with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He returned to the BBC Scottish Symphony in both subscription concerts and Proms performances with Donald Runnicles and appeared with the BBC Philharmonic in a live broadcast from Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. As a concerto soloist in North America, Mr. Wosner has appeared with the major orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Berkeley, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, San Francisco, and Toronto, among others. In addition to the BBC orchestras, he has performed abroad with the Aurora Orchestra, Barcelona Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, LSO St. Luke’s, Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Orchestre National de Belgique, Staatskapelle Berlin, and the Vienna Philharmonic, among others. Mr. Wosner has also appeared with the Orpheus, St. Paul, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, having conducted the latter from the keyboard in a 2010 concert that was broadcast on American Public Radio. Recently, he toured with ECCO to Memphis, Philadelphia, and New York for the world-premiere performances of Christopher Cerrone’s piano concerto The Air Suspended.

Mr. Wosner has worked with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, Gunther Herbig, James Judd, Zubin Mehta, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Leonard Slatkin, Jeffrey Tate, and Yan Pascal Tortelier, and has performed at summer festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Chautauqua Music Festival, Bravo! Vail festival, Grand Teton Music Festival, Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, and Ravinia Festival. For several consecutive summers, he was involved in the West-Eastern Divan Workshop led by Mr. Barenboim and toured as soloist with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

Widely sought after by colleagues for his versatility and spirit of partnership, Mr. Wosner has collaborated as a chamber musician with numerous artists, including Martha Argerich, Martin Fröst, Lynn Harrell, Dietrich Henschel, Ralph Kirshbaum, Jennifer Koh, Cho-Liang Lin, Christian Tetzlaff, Orion Weiss, and Pinchas Zukerman. He has also collaborated with leading chamber ensembles, including the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet in The Schubert Effect recital series. Mr. Wosner is a past member of Lincoln Center’s Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two) and performs regularly at various chamber music festivals, including Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Piano Aux Jacobins festival in France, and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Born in Israel, Mr. Wosner enjoyed a broad musical education from a very early age, studying piano with Opher Brayer and Emanuel Krasovsky, as well as composition, theory, and improvisation with André Hajdu. He later studied at The Juilliard School with Emanuel Ax. He resides in New York with his wife and two children.