There is a solo-piano recital series featuring Steinway Artists that takes place at two of the most revered, exclusive venues in the world. You won’t find listings for it in the newspaper or online. You can’t get tickets for it, no matter who you know. But if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, a Steinway & Sons employee will grab you an extra folding chair and you can listen for free. Concertgoer attire of jeans and T-shirts is encouraged.
The concert series is called Live from the Factory Floor, and it features Steinway Artists playing for Steinway artisans in the New York and Hamburg factories.
Steinway Artists love the gig — often coupled with a factory tour — because it gives them a chance to give back to the Steinway artisans who made their instruments. And the Steinway artisans love the concerts because they get to hear the result of their daily craftsmanship from a few feet away. Featured in the spreads that follow are three Steinway Artists who have played for the series: Joey Alexander and Arturo O’Farrill in New York, and Chilly Gonzales in Hamburg. We’ll tell you a bit about what makes each of these Steinway Artists, like each Steinway, unique.
It’s easy for talented young artists to succumb to believing so much in their own ability that they lose sight of their true potential. But the thoughtful Joey Alexander is committed to evolving and lifting his music to new heights with emotional depth.
Alexander, at the age of fourteen, has already recorded two Grammy-nominated studio albums — 2015’s My Favorite Things and 2016’s Countdown — as well as Joey.Monk.Live!, a surprise release from late 2017 that honored the centennial of Thelonious Monk’s birth. With 2018 effort Eclipse, his most personal statement to date, Alexander took another giant step forward, demonstrating his aptitude as a composer, bandleader, and musician, and hinting at the artistic paths to come in the decades ahead.
Born in 2003 in Bali, Indonesia, Alexander lived in Jakarta from age eight to ten and then moved to New York City in 2014, where he has experienced an ascendant career. As a pianist, Alexander is neither flashy nor bombastic. He approaches the instrument with discipline and a sense of contemplation that belies his young years.
Pianist, composer, and educator Arturo O’Farrill was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. He received his formal musical education at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. His professional career began with the Carla Bley Band and continued as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. He is a faculty member of both the Manhattan School of Music and the School of Jazz at the New School.
In 2007, O’Farrill founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music. In 2010, O’Farrill traveled to Cuba with his late father’s band, the original Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, bringing the music back to his father’s homeland. Arturo continues to travel to Cuba regularly as an informal cultural ambassador, working with Cuban musicians, dancers, and students, and bringing local musicians from Cuba to the U.S. and American musicians to Cuba.
Arturo O’Farrill has also performed with Ballet Hispanico and the Malpaso Dance Company, for which he has written three ballets. His Afro-Latin Jazz Suite won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition and the 2016 Latin Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. His “Three Revolutions” from the album Familia: Tribute to Bebo & Chico won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition; it was O’Farrill’s sixth Grammy.
Jason Charles Beck, a.k.a. Chilly Gonzales, is a Grammy-winning Canadian pianist and composer currently living in Europe who passes seamlessly between the genres of pop, classical, jazz, electronica, and hip-hop. Gonzales holds the Guinness world record for the longest solo concert at over twenty-seven hours. His latest album, Solo Piano III, is the final release in a trilogy.
Gonzales began teaching himself piano at the age of three after his older brother (Christophe, now a film composer) began taking lessons. Gonzales was later trained classically at McGill University.
In 2014 he won a Grammy for his collaboration on Daft Punk’s Album of the Year, Random Access Memories, and composed the best-selling book of easy piano pieces Re-Introduction Etudes.
In 2018, Gonzales launched his own music school, the Gonzervatory. Seven musicians from around the world joined him for an eight-day all-expenses-paid residential music performance workshop in Paris. The workshop included coaching sessions with Gonzales, followed by master classes taught by his friends and collaborators.