Described as “phenomenal and fearless” Vicki Ray is one of the leading interpreters of contemporary piano music. A long-time champion of new music she has worked with some of the most prominent composers of our time, including figures as diverse as Gyorgy Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Steve Reich, Elliot Carter, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Oliver Knussen, Louis Andriessen, Steven Stucky, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon and Chinary Ung. Ms. Ray has commissioned and premiered numerous works, running the gamut from established composers such as John Adams, Morton Subotnick, Stephen Hartke, David Rosenboom, Paul Dresher, Rand Steiger, Kamran Ince and Eric Chasalow among others - to emerging young artists such as Amy Kirsten, Daniel Wohl and Oscar Bettison.
Known for thoughtful and innovative programming which seeks to redefine the piano recital in the 21st century, Vicki’s concerts often include electronics, video, recitation and improvisation. As noted by Alan Rich, “Vicki plans programs with a knack for marvelous freeform artistry…what she draws from her piano always relates in wondrous ways to the senses.” As a founding member of PianoSpheres, an acclaimed series dedicated to exploring the less familiar realms of the solo piano repertoire, her playing has been hailed by the Los Angeles Times for “displaying that kind of musical thoroughness and technical panache that puts a composer’s thoughts directly before the listener.”
Ms. Ray’s work as a collaborative artist has been extremely diverse and colorful. She has been the keyboardist for the pioneering California E.A.R. Unit since 1994 and is currently their Artistic Director. Vicki is also the pianist in the CalArts based New Century Players and the Los Angeles based ensemble Xtet. Her chamber music contributions to the vibrant musical life in greater Los Angeles include frequent performances on the Dilijan, Jacaranda and the Green Umbrella Series. She performs regularly on the venerable Monday Evening Concert series and was featured in Grisey’s Vortex Temporum on the 2006 celebration of the re-birth of the series. Vicki has been heard in major solo roles with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the German ensemble Compania, and the Blue Rider Ensemble of Toronto, with whom she made the first Canadian recording of Pierrot Lunaire.
As a pianist who excels in a wide range of styles Vicki Ray’s numerous recordings cover everything from the premiere release of the Reich You Are Variations to the semi-improvised structures of Wadada Leo Smith, from the elegant serialism of Mel Powell to the austere beauty of Morton Feldman’s Crippled Symmetries. Recent releases include Feldman’s For Christian Wolff on Bridge Records. Upcoming recordings include David Rosenboom’s Twilight Language on Tzadik Records and Feldman’s For Piano and String Quartet with the Eclipse Quartet on Bridge Records.
She is currently head of the piano department at the California Institute of the Arts, where she has been on the faculty since 1991. Last year she was awarded the Hal Blaine Chair in Music Performance. For the past four years she has served on the faculty at the Bang on a Can summer festival at the Masschusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
For current information on upcoming concerts please go to www.vickiray.org