LOWELL, Mass. – The average 9-year-old learning to play the piano is busy mastering scales and memorizing their first piece. At that age, Jordan Rudess
was at the Julliard School of Music studying classical piano, a course he followed until a teen rebellion into progressive rock and electronic music that led to a career that has earned him honors including Best Keyboardist of All Time.
As a solo artist and with the group Dream Theater, Rudess has been a pioneer in electronic music and prog rock, taking the concept of playing the keyboard beyond instruments to the iPhone and iPad and developing apps that allow others to follow his journey.
On Thursday, Feb. 21, you can be part of a stop on that journey when Rudess comes to UMass Lowell to present a concert for the public to benefit scholarships and, for UMass Lowell music students, once-in-a-lifetime master classes.
The 7 p.m. show will be held in UMass Lowell’s intimate Durgin Concert Hall, which has played host to music greats including Billy Joel. The 950-seat venue is located at 35 Wilder St. on UMass Lowell’s South Campus and offers convenient parking for the public.
Tickets for the concert go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 28 through the box office at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell and will be available at www.tsongascenter.com
, by calling 866-722-8780 and at the box office. Tickets are $33 and $40 and UMass Lowell students with valid ID receive a 10 percent discount. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will fund scholarships for UMass Lowell music students. Terry Chance of First and Last Chance Productions is the concert’s equipment sponsor. More information on sponsorships is available by contacting University Advancement
“Jordan Rudess is a unique musician. His ability to perform many different musical styles, as well as adapt technology and synthesize new sounds while continuing to play at a high level is second to none. Dream Theater is known worldwide for the band’s technical proficiency, musicality and creativity. To have someone of his caliber willing to embrace emerging technology and use it successfully without losing the artistic message of the music is truly something special,” said Mike Testa, a visiting professor in UMass Lowell’s Sound Recording Technology program, who invited Rudess to campus for the concert and master classes.
Rudess’ musical influences range from Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer to Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. Rudess, whose solo career as a prog rock keyboardist began in the 1980s, captured international attention in 1994 after the release of his album “Listen” when he was voted Best New Talent in Keyboard Magazine’s readers’ poll. That honor was followed by offers to join two bands, including Dream Theater, but Rudess chose a part-time role with The Dixie Dregs to allow him more time with his family. With the Dregs, he connected with drummer Rod Morgenstein and began collaborating as the duo Rudess/Morgenstein Project (aka RMP). The duo toured with Dream Theater in the mid-1990s and Rudess crossed paths with the band again in 1997 when he was part of the prog-rock supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment, which also included Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci. After two albums, they asked Rudess again to join Dream Theater and this time, he was ready.
With Dream Theater, Rudess has recorded seven studio CDs and four live albums while also contributing to other artists’ work on recordings and tours. In 2010, Rudess returned to his roots with his first classical composition, “Explorations for Keyboard and Orchestra,” which premiered in Venezuela with Rudess performing all of the keyboard and synthesizer parts. The following year, in a poll by MusicRadar, a leading music industry news site, Rudess was voted Best Keyboardist of All Time.
That skill in melding classical training with cutting-edge technological skills makes Rudess an important role model for UMass Lowell students studying modern music.
“You can express musicality through many new technologies, even with an iPhone. By teaching students that lesson, they will be more successful in their art and we will be preparing them to be 21st century musicians and creators,” said Testa, citing Rudess and his Dream Theater bandmates as masters of using technology without stripping away the emotion and passion that should be part of making music.
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 16,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu