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David Hughes is a Philadelphia-based pianist with a wide-ranging repertoire that places a special emphasis on modern and lesser-known works, as well as chamber music. He has performed at the Kennedy Center, Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw and the Carmel (CA) Music Society’s subscription series. In 2014 he was featured on Philadelphia’s WRTI radio station as part of their "Music Makers" series: an hour-long segment in which he both discussed and performed solo repertoire. Mr. Hughes made his debut in Paris at the Cité Universitaire in a program of modern American works, sponsored by Orléans Concurs International. This event was preceded by a roundtable discussion about the state of contemporary music in France and America in which Mr. Hughes also took part.

Mr. Hughes has a strong interest in contemporary music and received third prize in the Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition—one of the world’s premier competitions for modern music—as a member of Outer Banks Duo with saxophonist Stacy Wilson. This was followed by the release of their debut CD, L’Incandescence. He is also a prizewinner of the MTNA National Chamber Music Competition. He is a past recipient of the Tanglewood Music Center, where he participated in the renowned Festival of Contemporary Music and can be heard playing four different keyboard instruments (piano, harpsichord, celesta and electric keyboard) in a performance of John Zorn's violin concerto, Contes de Fées, released on the Tzadik label.

Since relocating to Philadelphia in 2010 Mr. Hughes has worked extensively with a wide variety of the area's major musical institutions and venues. He regularly works with instrumentalists at the Curtis Institute of Music and has appeared on Curtis' student recital series. As a rehearsal pianist he has helped prepare contemporary vocal opera and oratorio productions for the PIFA festival at the Kimmel Center, International Opera Theater and Vulcan Lyric Opera. He has performed as an ensemble member of the Reading and Newark (DE) symphonies and is a frequent performer on composer Andrea Clearfield's popular "Salon" concert series in Center City Philadelphia, in addition to numerous other performances at smaller venues throughout the region. In 2016 Mr. Hughes joined the ranks of the newly-formed Arcana New Music Ensemble, a musicians' collective that is currently the in-house ensemble of Bowerbird, a concert presenting organization that specializes in experimental and "outsider" music. After a successful and well-attended performance of Morton Feldman's Words and Music in collaboration with Pig Iron Theater Company, Mr. Hughes looks forward to continue to explore modern, beautiful and often forgotten music with Arcana in the 2016-2017 season.

Mr. Hughes holds the Doctor of Music degree in piano performance from Indiana University Bloomington, where he served as an associate instructor of both private and class piano and conducted research into the writings of pedagogue Abby Whiteside. He also holds a Master's degree from Indiana and a Bachelor's degree from the Oberlin Conservatory, also in piano performance.

Teaching Philosophy:

At the age of 21 or so I came to the conclusion that to make further progress in my technical and musical development I would need to completely overhaul my physical and psychological approach to the instrument. This has led me to a 10-year (so far!) investigation into holistic methods of bodywork (Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method), Zen philosophy, the pedagogy of pianist Abby Whiteside (the subject of my dissertation), and various other thinkers, musical and otherwise. I've availed myself of private instruction in some of these areas and incorporate them into my teaching.

I believe that the process of learning is more important than the actual result attained: to do more with less is one of my main goals as a performer and teacher. With older students I work to expand their pianistic consciousness to detect and eliminate harmful habits and attitudes. My work with younger students is more focused on prevention of these habits. I incorporate ear training and music theory into lessons and encourage my students to perform. Above all I believe that the study of music should be linked to the study of one's self. I do not follow any one "system" of pedagogy and find that with any kind of set approach something is inevitably left out. I am continually discovering new things and try to get my students to do the same.

Practical Information:

My studio is in the Passyunk Square area of South Philadelphia: a resonant, open space with a very fine Schimmel grand piano. I can also travel to the student if scheduling permits (this would incur an extra fee, depending on distance). Please inquire within for rates. Lessons are weekly and are generally available for 30 or 60 minutes. Other durations of time (e.g. 45 minutes, or longer than an hour) may be possible as well.

Please be aware that I am a classical musician and the repertoire I teach is generally all in that direction. I am happy to help out with musical theater and pop to a certain extent. I do not teach jazz improvisation, however. Students at all levels are accepted, ages 6 and up. Younger students will be considered if they show signs of considerable musical talent.

I have passed federal and state background checks, and references are available upon request. I look forward to making music with you!

Studio Location
Philadelphia, PA
South Philly/Passyunk Square