Russian-born pianist recently profiled on national radio and TV makes Rochester debut

March 30, 2000

More Information:
Eastman Office of Communications, 585-274-1050

ROCHESTER, NY – It’s no James Bond movie, but it easily could be called "From Russia, with love": A remarkable 13-year-old pianist, originally from Russia, with a love of American jazz is the rising star chosen to be showcased in concert by legendary jazz pianist Marian McPartland and the Eastman School of Music. The concert will take place at 8 p.m., Monday, May 1, in Kilbourn Hall (26 Gibbs St., Rochester).

Eldar Djangirov will perform classic and contemporary jazz works in the second annual "Marian McPartland / Eastman Jazz Series" concert, a program created last year specifically to shine the spotlight on exceptional jazz pianists who deserve wider recognition. During the concert, Eldar – who in recent months has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, the live Grammy Awards broadcast, and National Public Radio’s Piano Jazz – also will perform with McPartland and with Eastman faculty Jeff Campbell (bass) and Rich Thompson (drums).

Called "a child prodigy" and a "musical phenomenon" by The Kansas City Star, Eldar – who now resides in Kansas City after moving there in 1998 with his parents from Bishtek, Kyrgyzstan, in the former Soviet Union – has been turning heads ever since he started playing piano at age 5. It became clear at that young age, when he repeated note for note what his father played, that the youngster had a musical gift. He began studying classical music, but quickly fell in love with jazz by listening to his father’s records. After performing at age 9 at a Russian jazz festival, he was discovered by Charles McWhorter, a jazz enthusiast from New York, who arranged for him to study during the summers at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.

(He will study there again this summer.)

Since coming to the United States, Eldar – who just turned 13 in January – has continued to study jazz and improvisation and has participated in several American jazz festivals. Along the way, his following and notoriety have grown, both in the Midwest and across the country. Last April, Eldar became the youngest artist ever featured in the 20-year history of McPartland’s award-winning NPR show, Piano Jazz.

"This young man is a fantastic piano player," McPartland said. "He’s not just ‘good for a kid.’ He’s got a terrific technique, he’s very sensitive, and he’s always working hard to improve. If he keeps developing and stays focused, he’s going to become an outstanding pianist on the jazz scene."

Since appearing on McPartland’s show, Eldar’s talent has caught the attention of others as well. This past February, he was the subject of a profile on CBS Sunday Morning and performed with a jazz quartet during this year’s Grammy Awards. "This is just the beginning," predicts McPartland.

Reserved tickets for the concert at Eastman are $15, $10, and $5. They are available in advance at Ticket Express, 100 East Ave., or by calling 585-222-5000. Although the concert is likely to sell out in advance as it did last year, any unsold tickets may be purchased at the hall box office one hour before the start of the concert.


Note to editors: Photos of Eldar and Marian McPartland are available. Both also are available for interviews.