Drew Petersen
Profile: Drew Petersen Pianist, Winner of Avery Fisher Career Grant

A profile of pianist Drew Petersen, winner of a 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant Award.

NYC-ARTS Profile

"...Pianist Drew Petersen gave a riveting performance of the Gershwin. He found the sweet spot between classical correctness and jazz freedom, using rubato like an expressive, crooning, jazz singer, and tossing in accelerando moments to playful effect in some spots and urgent effect elsewhere."


Elaine Schmidt, March 9, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“That is what is so astonishing about Drew...that he feels the music, he can make it come alive again, make you touched by it... That's what is unusual. That's what I like about him. He is not just a child prodigy but is a brilliant musician."

Lukas Foss, composer, conductor, pianist

"confident and assured"

Cathalina Burch, November 18, 2017, Arizona Daily Star

"a recital of 20th and 21st century music, starting with Judith Laing Zaimont’s Attars, which was commissioned by the APA. A multi-movement work about floral essential oils, he [Drew Petersen] conveyed each scent with a large palette of musical colors, so to speak; from lush rounded notes and phrasing, to more crisp, and angular ones. He followed up with Charles Ives’ “The Alcotts,” from his famous Concord Sonata, a work with layers and nooks and crannys, that was utterly delightful. His ability to go from intense and nearly thunderous to gentle and tranquil was astonishing and wholly satisfying. Petersen then jumped almost right in to Samuel Barber’s Piano Sonata in E flat minor, going from a peaceful finish to slightly more chaos, and again with ease. The second half began with Elliot Carter’s Piano Sonata, which at times had a relentless intensity. In the first movement, there was a time that intensity was brought to a breathtaking halt by Petersen — a singular note toward the end rendered everything, and everyone, completely still — before he then dove right back in, allowing us all to catch our breath. The evening finished out with Charles Tomlinson Griffes’ Fantasy Pieces, an impressionistic-like work. Petersen’s feather-like touch was particularly poignant in the Notturno movement, and the finishing Scherzo was a fun adventurous ride that Petersen remained in firm control of."

Chantal Incandela, October 12, 2017, Drew Petersen, piano // Ruth Lilly Performance Hall//Sept. 2

"It was a kaleidoscope of interpretations that struck the ear most when in April the finalists in the American Pianists Association's season-long contest played Judith Lang Zaimont's "Attars," the commissioned work of this year's classical piano competition.

And that was just one of the ways in which Drew Petersen made his mark on his way to winning the 2017 contest. Despite my reluctance to choose favorites while a competition is in progress, Petersen had won me over last January with his revelatory performance of Robert Schumann's problematic "Humoreske."

Jay Harvey Upstage 2017

"Three of the six finalists played Rachmaninov, but only one brought anything fresh or arresting to these overfamiliar works. That was 21-year-old American Drew Petersen, who – inexplicably as far as I’m concerned – only placed fourth; his account of Rachmaninov’s First Concerto was the best of the six performances in the final by some distance, and he perfectly captured the music’s youthful ebullience and glitter."

Andrew Clements, The Guardian,Leeds International Piano competition final Tow

"The 2017 American Pianists Awards' top prize — carrying a $50,000 cash prize and entailing much career assistance over the next two years as Christel DeHaan Fellow of the American Pianists Association — went Saturday night to Drew Petersen, a 23-year-old from Oradell, New Jersey, and a master's degree candidate at the Juilliard School. The announcement capped two days of "Gala Finals" with five candidates for the award each playing a major concerto."

Jay Harvey Upstage 2017,Drew Petersen wins the 2017 American

"... he plays the music as the composer intended. There is none of the mannered, exaggerated choreography of many of today's piano virtuosos."

Shelter Island Reporter

"...with his playing of Chopin's Nocturne No. 8 in D-flat major, that the miracle of being a prodigy came wondrously to the fore. It seemed as though Drew Petersen instinctively understood that Chopin was spinning a long, contemplative dream-that the filigree lights and shadows of this hushed work contained the sophisticated languors of a yearning heart.
To hear a 10-year-old boy breathe life and romantic subtlety into so expressive a work, is to encounter the true mystery of what makes so very young a person leap
toward the flames of artistic maturity."

John Jonas Gruen, The East Hampton Star
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