charlie albright


“Holy smokes! I want to learn that!” thought then-eleven-year-old Washington native Charlie Albright as he listened to Richard Goode perform Janácek’s Sonata 1.X.1905 in Lincoln Hall for Portland Piano International. His piano teacher Nancy Adsit was sitting next to him, and upon returning home they began learning the piece. Sixteen years later, now a winner of the 2014 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Oregon’s next-door-neighbor has come full circle from being PPI’s eager young audience member to opening his very own PPI concert series this weekend with this same Janácek sonata.

Charlie Albright. Photo: Stan Giske.

Charlie Albright. Photo: Stan Giske.

Albright began his music studies at the age of three, focusing particularly on jazz until age seven when he began classical studies with Adsit. He earned an Associate of Science degree at Centralia College while still in high school. In addition to winning a 2010 Gilmore Young Artist Award and 2009 Young Concert Artists International Audition, Albright was the first classical pianist accepted to the Harvard College/New England Conservatory Joint program, receiving Bachelor’s degree as a Pre-Med and Economics major at Harvard in 2011, Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the New England Conservatory in 2012, and Artist Diploma (A.D.) from New York’s Juilliard School.

Judging by his 2011 album Vivace, Albright is a pianist to be reckoned with. But before you hunker down for a serious listen, check out his Facebook page and watch him rock out to his own arrangement of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” and Willie Nelson’s “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.”

In addition to gushing about Psy’s latest album, this young polymath shared a bit of his life story and music philosophies with OAW.

OAW: Your Wikipedia article is quite detailed, mentioning all the accomplishments and projects in your life, but it fails to mention your age or birth year. Why is that?

Well, I usually don’t put my age out for the press because age is often used to make funky comparisons between musicians. Art sometimes happens earlier and sometimes later in life, and if you latch onto age as a means of examining an artist, instead of thinking about what kind of art the person is doing, then the discussion becomes less about the art and more about the accolades, which isn’t as important.