When West Hartford native Gregg Kallor returns this week to play a pair of concerts, it’s not just as a piano virtuoso but now as a composer in the first round of Grammy voting..
Kallor, who has crafted songs from poems by Emily Dickinson and William Butler Yeats and created a nine-movement solo piano suite that portrays “a musical tableau of life in New York City,” appears twice on the Grammy ballot for a piece from his new album, A Single Noon.
“It’s great to come home,” said Kallor in a recent telephone interview, noting that his parents still live in the home where he grew up. “It’s like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, especially after the exhausting and stimulating pace of the city.”
Kallor has lived in New York since 2000, performing and composing his music –a mix of classical and jazz.
West Hartford will get a taste of Kallor’s work in two concerts, during which he will share the stage with former teachers in support of causes he adores.
The first, on Saturday, Oct. 26, will be the 10th annual “Celebrating Gifts of Music Benefit Concert” at the Intensive Education Academy. The event is hosted by the West Hartford Public Schools’ Department of Fine and Performing Arts and will feature alumni vocalist Alita Moses and drummer Rob Gottfried, as well as Kallor and 2014 Connecticut Teacher of the Year John Mastroianni on saxophone.
More than 60 students will also perform at the Gifts of Music concert.
Kallor’s mentor Haig Shahverdian runs Gifts of Music, a West Hartford-based nonprofit organization that provides musical instruments and lessons to those who can’t afford them.
“The budget of arts education is pretty much nonexistent in this country,” Kallor said. “West Hartford is lucky there is so much support for it and I was privileged to go to Hall but that’s pretty rare… I believe the benefits just to engage in music making in some way enriches a life in ways that are immeasurable. His organization is giving that gift to as many people as they can.”
“I’m really thrilled to be a part of it.”
Find out more about Gift of Music here.
Likewise, at a second event on Saturday, Nov. 2, Kallor will perform at the Music House in a fundraiser for the VIP (Vocal Intensive Program), for which he is composer in residence.
The Vocal Intensive Program is a 9-day intensive summer program for college-age vocalists offering experience in all different styles and genres.
“This program is very close to my heart because I had an active hand in that music instruction,” Kallor said. “It’s a very small group of students we have so we can really work closely with them.”
Part of the program’s beauty is that it allows students to try out different styles they may be unfamiliar with.
“It’s a very safe environment. One of the things I’m proud of is that we strive to create a space that’s encouraging to safely explore, where they’re not going to be penalized academically. It’s exciting to see them jump head first into something they might not otherwise have access to.”
Currently the program is still young and still small, Kallor said. But with more resources, he hopes it can be offered to a more students through scholarships.
Read more about VIP here.
Support Kallor’s Grammy bid by listening to Broken Sentences (embedded above), the piece for which Kallor appears on the Grammy ballot in the categories of contemporary classical composition and music video. Yes, that’s Kallor in the video, playing 88 artist-designed pianos in five boroughs.