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Pianist & Vocal Coach

Alan Smith

Coordinator of the Vocal and Instrumental Piano Programs

Alan Smith headshot


Pianist Alan Smith enjoys a reputation as one of the United States’ most highly regarded figures in the field of collaborative artistry. His performing experiences have included associations in major musical venues with such musical personalities as bass-baritone, Thomas Stewart; soprano, Barbara Bonney; mezzo-soprano, Stephanie Blythe; violist, Donald McInnes; violinist, Eudice Shapiro; as well as the Los Angeles Chamber Virtuosi. Broadcasts of his performances, compositions and interviews have been aired internationally. His expertise and experience in song literature, chamber music and opera make him much sought after as an accompanist, coach, faculty colleague, teacher of master classes and adjudicator of area and international competitions, including regular engagements as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. At the USC Thornton School of Music, Professor Smith serves as the chair of Keyboard Studies and still serves as the director of the Keyboard Collaborative Arts Program, one of the oldest and largest programs of its kind the country. Having studied with the legendary Martin Katz, Alan Smith has become a teacher of renown himself; among his awards are the Virginia Ramo Award for excellence in teaching and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Thornton School and the Inaugural Mellon Award Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Mentoring. His current and former students maintain important positions internationally in the field of collaborative piano and coaching. He has served for more than 20 years as a member of the vocal coaching faculty at the Tanglewood Music Center in western Massachusetts, was formerly that program’s vocal program coordinator and most recently served as the coordinator of the piano program, for which he held a named chair as the Marian Douglas Martin Master Teacher. His own compositions for voice and piano have received performances in many parts of the world by some of the world’s most acclaimed artists in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Tanglewood Music Center, Music Academy of the West and the Ravinia Festival. He was commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center for a set of songs for a world premiere gala concert in 2002, celebrating the 80th birthday of American soprano, Phyllis Curtin. Alfred Publishing released his Four Folksongs for Soprano, Viola, and Piano in September of 2003 and his song cycle, Vignettes: Ellis Island, was recorded for public television in New York by mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and pianist Warren Jones and was aired in January 2004. The performance has been added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Television and Radio in New York. He was commissioned to compose a new vocal chamber work, which was premiered by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in February of 2008. The composition, on texts taken from the diary of an American pioneer woman who crossed the continent in a covered wagon, Covered Wagon Woman was commissioned to be performed by Stephanie Blythe and pianist Warren Jones and has been performed nationwide. 2011 saw the world premiere of An Unknown Sphere, a piece for mezzo-soprano soloist and unaccompanied chorus that was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Ms. Blythe. Dr. Smith has had articles published in Piano and Keyboard magazine and his articles and reviews on various aspects of collaborative artistry have appeared in the magazine, The American Music Teacher. He is president of the Eta chapter of the Pi Kappa Lambda national music honor society.