Soaring and virtuosic pianist
Celebrated for his exuberant virtuosity and a bold repertoire that embraces piano classics and inspired discoveries of contemporary and world music, Joel Fan reinvents the piano recital by illuminating the rare and unexpected—creating, in the words of the Baltimore Sun’s critic Tim Smith, “one of the most satisfying piano performances I’ve heard.”
At MIT in spring 2019, Fan collaborates with MIT composition students as they develop their own new works. On April 18, 2019, Fan performs a bold selection of works by MIT composers as part of MIT Sounding.
Pianist Joel Fan is acclaimed as “soaring” (Los Angeles Times), “fantastic” (The Washington Post) and possessing a “probing intellect and vivid imagination” (The New York Times). Celebrated for his exuberant virtuosity and a bold repertoire that embraces piano classics and inspired discoveries of contemporary and world music, Fan reinvents the piano recital by illuminating the rare and unexpected—creating, in the words of the Baltimore Sun’s critic Tim Smith, “one of the most satisfying piano performances I’ve heard.”
Fan’s discography illustrates his highly creative musical persona. Following his work on Leon Kirchner: Revelations—critic Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times proclaimed Fan as an “impressive pianist.” Of Fan’s recital disc, West of the Sun, the Toronto Star stated, “Fan offers nine stunningly brilliant renditions drawn from a wide range of styles and sources…. Capping it all off is an arresting interpretation of Samuel Barber’s fearsome 1949 Piano Sonata. Wow.” His solo CD World Keys contains five world-premiere recording tracks—creating a “deeper, more rewarding experience” (Minnesota Public Radio)—and reaching #3 on Billboard’s Classical Chart.
As a concerto soloist, Fan has performed over 40 different concertos with orchestras worldwide, including the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Odessa Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, the Boston Pops and London Sinfonietta, with conductors such as David Zinman, Zubin Mehta, Alan Gilbert, Keith Lockhart and David Robertson. According to the Boston Music-Intelligencer: “We’ve heard many of the great pianists…. Fan belongs in the company of the best.”
As a recitalist, Fan has found an enthusiastic following on numerous stages ranging from the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Jordan Hall in Boston and Calgary Celebrity Series to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Internationally, Fan has performed recitals on four continents—most recently in tours of China, Cuba and South America. Along with his innovative programming, Fan delivers Mozart with “eloquence and sensitivity” (The Boston Globe), and brings “a steely power and feather-light touch to Prokofiev… and red-blooded Romantic gestures in Kirchner’s sonata” (The New York Times). “He deserves special praise for the spontaneity, wit, and emotional urgency he drew from the music of Bolcom and Carter” (The Washington Post).
As a “champion of new music” (The Boston Globe), Fan is also recognized for his work with cellist Yo-Yo Ma as a member of the Silk Road Ensemble, appearing at Carnegie Hall and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and on the television programs Good Morning America and Late Night with David Letterman. Fan has also collaborated with numerous leading ensembles, including the Shanghai Quartet, Orion Quartet, Imani Winds and A Far Cry chamber orchestra.
More on the artist’s website: Joel Fan
Keeril Makan Afterglow (2007)
John Harbison Three Montale Sketches (1999, 2004)
Bernard Rands Four Impromptus (2018), Boston Premiere
Gyorgy Ligeti Etudes Book III (1995 – 2001)
Evan Ziporyn & Christine Southworth Don’t Want to Wait (2018), Boston Premiere
Bernard Rands & Augusta Read Thomas Two Thoughts About The Piano (2018), Boston Premiere
Charles Shadle A Tale of My Native Land (Ballade after Hawthorne) (2016)
Elena Ruehr Preludes (2002)
“…one had the sense of the romantic striving beyond what an instrument or genre can give”
— The Washington Post, November 2013
“probing intellect and vivid imagination”
— The New York Times, March 2008
“One of the most satisfying piano performances I’ve heard.”
— Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun, December 2009