B i o g r a p h y
Eric Starr is a third generation musician from Western New York. A multi-talented artist, Starr has worked as a composer, percussionist, pianist, author, recording artist, and educator for most of his life.
As a composer, Starr has received four prestigious Meet the Composer grants, a Utah Arts Council grant, NEA Foundation grants, and more. Working with artists of various genres, Starr has performed at countless major music venues internationally. He has also been featured at numerous music festivals. These include: June in Buffalo, The North American New Music Festival, The Toronto Jazz Festival, Great Connecticut Traditional Jazz Fest, Nickel City Jazz Festival (Buffalo), Edenfest (southern Ontario), North by Northwest (Toronto), South by Southwest (Austin), Undercurrents (Cleveland), and many more.
Throughout his career, composing music has been a focus for Starr. His homage to authors Vera Brittain & Winifred Holtby, titled Between the Sandhills and the Sea, has garnered praise from around the world. The Buffalo News (USA) called it "an inviting and deeply rewarding work." Limelight Magazine (AU) extolled, "a phantasmagoria of shifting emotions...Masterful." Pizzicato Journal (LU) wrote, "always eloquent and evocative." Fanfare Magazine (USA) exclaimed, "incredibly imaginative and superbly performed." Chronogram Magazine (USA) declared the work, "a provocative and heart-wrenching celebration of perseverance."
Celebrated conductor JoAnn Falletta wrote, "Between the Sandhills and the Sea is beautiful! What a fascinating melding of words and music: very alluring and quite haunting. An excellent work!" Golden Globe nominated director James Kent called the project, "truly valuable in this volatile world," and biographers Elaine and English Showalter hailed Starr's work as "evocative and moving" adding "One senses the same powerful themes that animated their [Brittain and Holtby's] lives and their writing."
In 2021, Starr's Between the Sandhills and the Sea was also featured on a Midwest tour, including concerts at Davenport's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, The Waverly Chamber Music Series at Wartburg College, and the stunning new Voxman Music Hall in Iowa City.
In October of 2018, Starr's work was performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Earlier that year, Twelve Pieces for Solo Piano (see reviews) premiered at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY. The latter featured pianist Michelle Alvarado and the former featured Alvarado with cellist Hannah Holman. Legendary jazz pianist and composer Andy LaVerne called Twelve Pieces, "a great and valuable addition to the piano literature.”
In 2010, Starr was the featured speaker at Loyola University New Orleans' Beiver Guest Lecturer Series. That same year, the Loyola Symphony Orchestra and the Theatre Arts & Dance department teamed up, under the direction of Dr. Artemis Preeshl, to present a staged version of Starr's work for orchestra titled The Windsong of Crazy Horse.
Another highlight for Starr was the 2007 premiere of his piece The Stones of Carnac (for tenor saxophone and strings) at The Lighthouse: Poole's Centre for the Arts (UK). This performance featured world-renowned saxophonist Iain Ballamy, and it received a standing ovation. Composer Steve Reich wrote about this work: “I’m impressed with the directness of Eric’s music and the craft with which he has written it. His music would appeal to a wide variety of listeners.”
Starr's jazz band, The Eric Starr Group, has released two critically acclaimed albums and his group has performed at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, among other venues. ESG's two albums have received international radio play and rave reviews in Downbeat Magazine, The Jazz Journal, Jazzwise Magazine, the All Music Guide and over a dozen additional publications worldwide. (Again, see reviews.) Brian Morton, publisher of the Penguin Guide to Jazz, called ESG's album Such Is Life “One of my favourite releases of the year," and iconic drummer, Bill Bruford, dubbed Starr “an extremely welcome new addition to the club [of percussionist composers]."
As an author and educator, Starr has written five books about music for Adams Media, Inc. (See Educational Publications.) Two of them have been translated into Spanish. Starr has also written for InConcert Magazine (Nashville Symphony Orchestra), and the erstwhile media giant Muze, Inc. Additionally, Starr has penned several educational blogs for takeLessons.com.
Since 1995, Starr has also appeared as a guest artist and clinician at colleges and universities throughout the country. Most recently, he spoke at the Center for New Music, University of Iowa.
Among others, Starr has studied with percussionists David Fishlock, Lynn Harbold, Jack Brennan, Jan Williams, and the legendary Joe Morello. Starr also studied with jazz pianist Michael LeDonne.
Starr currently resides in the Hudson Valley with his two children, Iain and Delia.