biography

Called “phenomenal” by the late music critic Alan Rich (SoIveHeard.com), and hailed as one of the “local heroes” of the Los Angeles music scene (LAcitybeat.com), pianist Danny Holt brings his boundless energy and wit to unique interpretations of new music, 20th-century music, and obscure, unusual, and neglected repertoire from past centuries.

Holt performs around the globe in concert halls (Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hollywood Bowl), clubs (Joe’s Pub, The Blue Whale, Copenhagen Jazzhouse) art galleries (MASS MoCA, Hammer Museum), churches, living rooms, and wherever else he can find a piano and someone to listen. Known for his no-holds-barred style, he has been called “the classical music equivalent of an extreme sports athlete” (The Record) and “an artistic maverick who isn’t afraid to tackle tradition” (WWLP-TV).

Danny Holt has held fellowships at the Bang On a Can Summer Music Institute, the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, and New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice, and he has worked with such composers as Steve Reich, Louis Andriessen, Christian Wolff, James Tenney, Graham Fitkin, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Augusta Read Thomas, and Michael Finnissy, among others. He also proudly champions the works of emerging composers.

He has received awards and grants from ASCAP, Yamaha, the American Composers Forum, the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, and others; and has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Blue Man Group, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the California EAR Unit, and the Calder Quartet. He can be heard on the Innova Recordings label, pfMENTUM, New World Records, Deutsche Grammophon, and Wide Bench Records.

Holt’s acclaimed 2009 CD, Fast Jump (Innova Recordings) was produced by Mike Garson (pianist for David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt, Smashing Pumpkins, etc.) Gramophone called the album “a compelling showcase for Holt’s innate virtuosity and gregarious temperament” and WNYC’s John Schaefer selected the CD as one of the best new releases of 2009.

Among Holt’s ambitious solo projects is The Piano/Percussion Project. More than 25 composers have created new works for Holt’s unique setup in which he plays piano and an array of percussion instruments simultaneously. When he’s not performing cutting-edge contemporary music, Holt enjoys curating programs of obscure repertoire from the 18th and 19th centuries, bringing rarely-performed works and the unheard stories of lesser-known composers to audiences.

Holt holds degrees from California Institute of the Arts, Hampshire College, Smith College, and Interlochen Arts Academy. He is also a percussionist, composer, teacher, and scholar. He splits his time between Los Angeles and Desert Hot Springs, California (where he runs Desert Hot Springs Classical Concerts, an annual concert series for residents and visitors to the Palm Springs area). In addition to maintaining a busy private studio of piano students, Holt is the chair of the music program at The Academy of Creative Education at the Oakwood School, and he is Scholar-in-Residence at Harvard-Westlake School’s Kutler Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and Independent Research. He previously taught at CalArts, Smith College, College of the Desert, Norco College, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CalState San Bernardino; and he has performed and given guest lectures at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and the U.K.