Biography

About Ronn Yedidia

 

Ronn Yedidia’s compositions have galvanized the attention of performing artists worldwide during the last two decades. His works have been featured in major concert halls and documented on film, radio and television. He has won high critical acclaim from leading newspapers around the world, as both composer and pianist.

Born in 1960 in Tel Aviv, Israel, he began his musical career as a child prodigy pianist, winning 1st Prize at the Young Concert Artists’ Competition of Israel at the age of eight. His main teacher and mentor was Israel’s first lady of the piano, Pnina Salzman, who herself was a protege of Alfred Cortot. Active as a performer for many years, Ronn decided at the age of 15 to shift his attention towards composition. In 1984 he entered the Juilliard School from which he holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in composition. During his studies there under David Diamond and Milton Babbitt he received all the major prizes in composition, including the Lincoln Center Scholarship, the Irving Berlin Scholarship, the Henry Mancini Prize, and the Richard Rodgers Scholarship. He also won the Juilliard Composition Competition twice – in 1987 & 1989 – and as a result had his works performed at the Juilliard Theater and at Alice Tully Hall.

Soon after Ronn Yedidia’s arrival at Juilliard, he was discovered by Sony Classical’s Executive Producer, Thomas Frost, who produced a recording of his Fusion-Jazz works. In 1985, his Second Piano Sonata was selected for radio exchange between Israel and numerous countries around the world. In 1987 he was presented on Israeli Television as Discovery of the Year in Classical Music, performing his Third Piano Sonata, “Outcries”.

Ronn Yedidia’s awards include the 2006 San Antonio International Piano Competition Commission for which he composed his Rhapsody – which was performed by all finalists of the competition; 2002 commissions from the Zamir Chorale and from the Oklahoma City Community Fund; a 1998 America-Israel Cultural Foundation Commission; a 1997 BMI Grant; 1997 Honors at the John Lennon International Songwriting contest; a 1992 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship; First Prize at the 1992 Chicago Ensemble’s First Discover America Competition; First Prize at the 1991 New Sounds Competition in Louisville, Kentucky; an ASCAP Grant in 1990 for his Piano Sonata No. 3, “Outcries”; the Milton Babbitt Prize in 1989 and the 1988 Brian Israel Award.

The Seattle Chamber Music Society selected Ronn Yedidia to be its first-ever commissioned composer – on the occasion of its 26th Summer Festival which was held in Seattle during July & August, 2007. He composed a Trio for clarinet, cello and piano which was premiered at the festival by clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, cellist Amit Peled, and pianist Alon Goldstein, and the press cited him for his bravery of composing in the romantic vein of 19th and 20th-century masters, while keeping his authenticity and managing to avoid cliche or pastiche of old mannerisms.

In the fall of 2009 Ronn Yedidia was appointed Resident Composer of “The Concert Meister Series” held at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in Manhattan. The series presents solo & chamber appearances by concertmasters and principal instrumentalists of some of the world’s leading orchestras, such as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and Yedidia’s compositions are featured amongst traditional works on each program.

Ronn Yedidia’s compositions have been broadcast on NPR as well as New York radio stations WQXR, WNYC, WNCN & WFUV and he has been featured on NBC & WOR television networks in the U.S. and on both KBS-TV and MBC-TV in South Korea. His works have received critical acclaim throughout the world. The Los Angeles Times has cited “Yedidia’s wealth of invention and compact construction” in the Concerto for Piano, Electronic Instruments, Choir & Orchestra, describing it as “…a recasting of the Lisztian virtuoso Piano Concerto in a contemporary medium,” and concluding that “…the composer has his own voice.”

In 1994 Ronn Yedidia was invited by Thomas Frost and Wanda Toscanini-Horowitz to edit and record the unpublished piano compositions of the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz. Ronn’s friendship with the great Israeli composer, the late Alexander Argov gave rise to the project in which he has been the editor and transcriber of a collection of songs by Argov, which has been published by GIA Productions in Israel.

In 1993 Ronn founded the concert series 20th Century Music & On which presents a diverse cross-section of contemporary music in New York, and for which he has been composing his recent large-scale chamber works.

Between 1993 and 1998 he served as Composer in Residence and Chairman of the Piano Department at the Bloomingdale House of Music in Manhattan. A piano pedagogue of note, his students have been recognized in numerous competitions and festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe. Between 2001 and 2004, he served as Vice President and Program Director of the Piano Teachers Congress of New York. Between the summers of 2003 and 2006, he served as a Piano and Composition Professor at the Puigcerda Festival of Classical Music – situated in the Catalan region of Spain and France.

Ronn Yedidia is regarded by many also as an accordion virtuoso. He started playing the accordion at the age of 6 under the direction of his father, Moshe Yedidia – who was a well-known poet, actor, and accordionist in Israel. Since 2001, he has been involved in the creation of several klezmer ensembles in the New York area, both as an accordionist and as a musical arranger. In the fall of 2008 he formed the ensemble DanzaNova which arranges, composes & performs virtuoso ethnic music from all over the world with a special emphasis on dance.

Another project in which Ronn has been involved as an accordionist as well as a composer & arranger is Polkastra, a virtuoso modern polka ensemble led by violinist Lara St. John and polka-composer Daniel Lapp. Polkastra’s CD, “Apolkalypse Now”, has hit the no. 1 spot on iTunes’ World Music category during the month of June, 2009, and Ronn’s “Celtic Kalkadunga Polka” featuring didgeridoo master William Barton – has been the most downloaded tune from the album on iTunes. Another track of Ronn’s, the “Flying Gypsy Polka” has been distinguished by Allan Kozinn of the New York Times as “a vigorous accordion workout”, and “the musicianship of the band – first rate !”

A more recent facet in Ronn’s musical life has been popular-style singing. He has composed more than 150 songs and has had several writers adapt lyrics to them. Most of those lyrics are in Hebrew. On May 5, 2007 he appeared for the first time as a singer with a band – featuring 20 of his songs in a special concert held at Tel Aviv’s famous pop music venue – Tzavta 1.

That first week of May, 2007 has also marked Ronn Yedidia’s debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra – under the baton of Maestro George Pehlivanian. IPO premiered Yedidia’s symphonic work “Steps in the Wonderland” on four different subscription concerts in the main halls of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Ronn’s association with jazz pianist and composer Haim Cotton has led to the inception of the New York Piano Academy – a school and method which is devoted to the teachings of both classical and jazz piano disciplines. Their method defines the common grounds between classical and jazz, and qualifies piano students of all levels in both disciplines. The New York Piano Academy has been open to the public since September, 2005, and is in residence at Manhattan’s West End Presbyterian Church on the upper west side.

Ronn Yedidia’s first Compact Disc recording entitled “Yedidia Plays Yedidia” was released in March, 2001 on the Altarus label (AIR-CD-9078). His popular “Lullabye” is featured on EMI Classics’ Ahn Trio “Groovebox” CD (2003). In 2008 another Ahn Trio recording was released – this time on the SonyBMG label – entitled “Lullaby For My Favorite Insomniac”. It features Yedidia’s original composition, “The Song On The Land”, as well as two of his trio arrangements of Korean and American popular tunes. In April, 2012 Yedidia’s first Naxos CD on the American Classics series has been released – featuring his major clarinet & piano works with clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein. The CD has been broadcast worldwide and presented on NPR’s “All Things Considered”.

Ronn Yedidia’s music is distributed through the publishing company Verse Music, in affiliation with BMI.