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Recording Artist, Concert Pianist and Composer JOHN BAYLESS was elected Artistic Director in April, 2015 for the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition. He joined the board and artistic committee in 2009.
Yamaha Artist John Bayless has an extraordinary imagination, sly wit, tremendous musicality and an imposing technique, according to High Fidelity Magazine, and has been proclaimed by the New York Times as an evocative pianist with a lovely piano sound and considerable personal pizzazz. He is an amazing pianist, improviser, composer, entertainer and recording artist.
John Bayless has played more that 175 concerts, performing in such cities as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, London, Rome, Florence, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Tokyo, Minneapolis and Washington DC. He has appeared at Carnegie Hall in a performance of his own West Side Story Concert Variations for solo piano and orchestra, made his Tanglewood debut playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Boston Pops, opened the San Francisco Summer Pops season with the same work and appeared in three sold-out concerts at the Hollywood Bowl with John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. That same summer he returned to Italy for solo concerts in Florence, Sorrento and Milan.
In 1997 he made his debut with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in England and a four week 20 concert North American tour under the baton of Carl Davis, featuring performances of Rhapsody in Blue, culminating in New York City at Lincoln Center.
He also made his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra (1998) performing his West Side Story Concert Variations and his Bach Meets the Beatles repertoire. He appeared in a sold-out concert at Rome’s prestigious Villa Giulia Summer Festival presented by the Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia. That same season Bayless appeared in more than 50 concerts including New York, Toronto, Houston, Santa Fe and returned to Europe for extended concerts in Italy, Finland and other countries.
Bayless made his recording debut in 1985 with an album entitled Happy Birthday Bach, which was created in honor of the Bach tercentennial celebration. Two subsequent releases, Bach Meets the Beatles and Bach on Abby Road, contained his improvisations on Beatles melodies and were phenomenally well received, the former selected as one of the Top Ten Classical Crossover Recordings of the 1980’s by Billboard Magazine. A compilation CD of the Beatles recordings was released in 2004.
His exclusive recording contract with Angel/EMI brought forth four top selling albums. Bayless Meets Bernstein: West Side Story Concert Variations, based on Leonard Bernstein’s timeless score, was a critical success and a popular one as well. The Puccini Album – Arias for Piano soared to Number One on Billboard Magazine’s Classical Crossover Chart where it remained for 18 weeks selling over 175,000 albums. The Movie Album – Classical Pictures followed and is based on some of the most beautiful movie music ever written, interwoven with the most famous classical themes.
It debuted in 1997 and still remains a favorite of audiences here and abroad. The fourth album was Romantica, Bayless’ interpretations of great Italian love songs and arias. It was and is still considered to be one of the most romantic albums of 1999. In 2004 he recorded his first Christmas Album entitled Christmas Rhapsody for Koch Entertainment Records. It has received accolades and tremendous reviews in its debut year and was selected as one of the top five favorite Christmas Albums of 2004 by Minnesota Public Radio.
John Bayless’ extensive performance background includes appearances at Carnegie Hall where he made his debut with the Orchestra of New York in 1980 performing his own piano concerto Badinage – an essay for piano and orchestra in 3 movements, and Rhapsody in Blue. His 1986 debut at Lincoln Center, Avery Fisher Hall was part of the Mostly Mozart Festival where he premiered his own transcriptions and improvisations on Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni. He appeared at London’s Wigmore Hall, and has created special programs with orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, performing both classical and improvisational repertoire. In addition Bayless has made two tours of Japan, performed at the Budapest Spring Festival and was Artist in Residence for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Leonard Bernstein Festival, performing at a gala for Queen Elizabeth ll. He returns to Japan in 2006 for a concert tour of 20 cities.
In 2001 the legendary Rosemary Clooney invited John to be her guest artist for several pops concerts at performing arts venues in the United States, including a performance with the San Francisco Symphony. One of the highlights of the year was appearing in Ms. Clooney’s famed Christmas Shows at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Southern California and at Feinstein’s Supper Club in New York City. He has conducted Master Classes at the Juilliard School of Music, Kent State University, University of Houston and The Royal Academy of Music in London.
Born and raised in Borger, Texas, John Bayless won a scholarship to the Aspen School of Music at age 15, and two years later moved to New York to study with Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School of Music. Bayless was invited to participate as a composer in the inaugural class of New York University’s Musical Theater Masters Degree Program where he studied with Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Arthur Laurents, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. His first musical, Grand Duchy, a musical fable, has received stage readings at Playwright’s Horizon in New York City, The Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey and The Falcon Theatre in Los Angeles. A full-scale production was recently mounted in Santa Barbara, California. It is represented by Musical Theatre International.
He has received commissions from The Newport Music Festival, The University of Maryland International Piano Competition, and composed and performed the score for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s television presentation of the Lila Acheson Wallace Exhibition of 20th Century American Art. Mr. Bayless’ music can be heard nationally on PBS in 5 different television series. Julia Child chose John to compose and perform the music for two of her series: Baking with Julia and Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home. He also composed the music for Weir Cooking in the Wine Country with Joanne Weir, Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way, and debuting this spring, Lidia’s Family Table with Lidia Bastianich.
Pianist Patricia Taylor Lee, the Artistic Director of the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition from 2004 through April 2015, is Professor of Music and immediate Past Chair of the Music Department at San Francisco State University. Prior to moving to San Francisco she was for ten years Professor of Keyboard Music at West Chester University in Pennsylvania where she also served as chair of the Keyboard Department, Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Professional Studies, and Acting Associate Vice-President for Academic Affairs. Previously she taught for six years at the University of California at Davis.
Dr. Lee is a native of Portland, Oregon. She received a B.A. in music from Mills College, where her teachers included Alexander Libermann, Leon Kirchner, and Darius Milhaud. She earned an M.A. from Yale University under Leo Schrade and a D.M.A. from Temple University, where she studied piano with Adele Marcus. Her doctoral dissertation discussed the Solo Piano Music of Darius Milhaud, her former teacher.
Patricia Taylor Lee has performed throughout the country as a soloist, in chamber music, and with orchestra. For ten years she was the official pianist of the Sacramento Symphony. She is a frequent lecturer and the author of numerous articles published by the National Piano Foundation, Clavier, and the American Music Teacher.She serves often as an adjudicator and has been a member of the jury for the Gina Bachauer Piano Competition, the Joanna Hodges Piano Competition, the Irving Klein String Competition, and the national finals of the Baldwin, Mason & Hamlin, and Collegiate Competitions of the Music Teachers National Association.
Dr. Lee is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Alpha Iota. She holds the Master Teacher Certificate from the Music Teachers National Association. A member of the National Association of Schools of Music Commission on Accreditation, she has also served NASM as regional chair and a member of the nominating committee.She is a member of the executive committees of the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition and the San Francisco Community Music Center as well as the boards of the Ross McKee Foundation and the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music. She is a past trustee of Mills College, the Women’s Philharmonic, the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, and the Sacramento Symphony.
To excite, educate, and engage the community at large with the joy of classical piano by presenting, promoting, and nurturing classical music through live piano performance including international competitions, concerts, and local educational outreach programs for all ages.
Alive and Well in the Contemporary World