André Mehmari: Brazilian Musical Polyglot
André Mehmari: Brazilian Musical Polyglot
André Mehmari – Piano
André Mehmari—pianist, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist—is considered one of Brazil’s most talented musicians. A musical polyglot, Mehmari’s work is highly regarded internationally in both popular and classical music. His career in jazz and Brazilian popular music has attained wide attention with performances at all of Brazil’s major music festivals including Chivas Jazz, as well as festivals abroad such as the Spoleto Festival (U.S.), Umbria Jazz (Italy), and Jazz à Juan (France). He has performed in many prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Bimhuis (Amsterdam), Blue Note (São Paulo, Tokyo, Milan), Steinway Hall (Boston), Mondavi Center (UC Davis), Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and the Philharmonie Luxembourg. Mehmari regularly performs with some of the best orchestras and chamber ensembles in Brazil and beyond, such as the Claudio Santoro National Theatre Symphony Orchestra of Brazil (Brasilia), Orchestre Régional de Normandie (France), the Miami Symphony (U.S.), and the São Paulo String Quartet.
In his Denver premiere, André Mehmari will perform a program of solo piano virtuosity including original compositions and Brazilian favorites. He brings the repertoire of his latest album, Noël: Morning Star, based on the work of beloved Brazilian singer-songwriter Noel Rosa of Rio de Janeiro. A unique feature of Mehmari’s solo piano performances are his real-time improvisations based on the audience’s suggestions of their favorite tunes, compositions, musicians, or even abstract ideas. As an example, take a listen to Mehmari improvising (for almost 30 minutes!) on the All Things Considered theme song.
This concert is brought to you by MAS Eclectic and CrestoneStar Productions. MAS Eclectic is a Colorado non-profit which aims to provide an intimate listening experience, featuring multiple genres of music from jazz and classical to blues, folk, bluegrass, and more. Mehmari’s albums also include collaborations with two MAS alumni—Hamilton de Holanda (Continua Amizade, 2008; Gismontipascoal, 2013) and Jovino Santos Neto (Guris, 2017). CrestoneStar Productions’ mission is to introduce high-quality Brazilian performing arts to the world. Recent Brazilian artists presented by CrestoneStar include Danilo Brito, Alexandre Ribeiro & Roberta Valente, and Alessandro Penezzi.
André Mehmari started music studies at age 5, and by the time he was 10 he’d taught himself improvisation and started composing. While still in college, he won the same São Paulo State University (USP) competition twice: once for original Brazilian popular music (MPB) and once for classical music. In 1998, he won the first national Prêmio VISA de MPB competition, the most important award for popular music in Brazil. He recorded his first album as a result and has since recorded 40 albums. In 2006, Mehmari won the Carlos Gomes award for classical music, and was appointed resident composer for the São Paulo State Wind Band. He has since become the go-to composer for the highly reputable São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, and many other orchestras and international events have sought him out over the years. For example, Mehmari was commissioned to compose music for both the Pan American Games (2007) and the Rio Olympic Games closing ceremony (2016). The Miami Symphony Orchestra commissioned him to compose and perform a new concerto for two pianos and orchestra, which he premiered with pianist Christopher O’Riley in May 2015. In 2017, South America’s literary festival, the International Literary Festival of Paraty, commissioned Mehmari to compose and perform a new work in tribute to author Lima Barreto with 25,000 people in attendance.
Internationally, Mehmari has been a favorite of Japanese audiences, with seven tours, eight cities, and three albums exclusively released in Japan. In 2016, he debuted in China in a concert with soprano Marilia Vargas at the National Center for the Performing Arts.
André Mehmari is an exceptionally prolific musician. In the past 12 months alone, he has released five albums. His talent knows few bounds: as a multi-instrumentalist, he also plays guitar, violin, bass, percussion, flute, and clarinet; and as a performing artist and composer, one cannot help but notice the ease with which he moves between classical music, Brazilian popular music, and jazz.