B i o g r a p h y
Eric Starr is a third generation musician from Western New York. A multitalented artist, Starr has worked as a composer, percussionist, pianist, author 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. He has performed at countless major music venues internationally and has been featured at numerous music festivals including 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.
Most recently, Starr's musical homage to authors Vera Brittain & Winifred Holtby 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." Moreover, 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 2007, the premiere of Starr's suite for saxophone and strings received a standing ovation at The Lighthouse: Poole's Centre for the Arts (UK) featuring world renowned saxophonist, Iain Ballamy. Composer Steve Reich wrote, “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.”
In October of 2018 Starr's work was performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Earlier that year, Twelve Pieces for Solo Piano was premiered at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY. The latter featured pianist Michelle Alvarado and the former featured Alvarado with cellist Hannah Holman. In 2021, Starr's work 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 Voxman Music Hall in Iowa City.
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. Starr's 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. Brian Morton, publisher of the Penguin Guide to Jazz called his album Such Is Life “One of my favorite releases of the year.” Iconic drummer, Bill Bruford, called Eric “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. Two of them have been translated into Spanish. In 2010, Starr was a featured speaker at Loyola University New Orleans' Beiver Guest Lecturer Series. Since 1995, he has also appeared as a guest artist and clinician at colleges and universities throughout the country. Most recently, he was invited to speak at the Center for New Music, University of Iowa.
Starr has also written several plays, including Ghost Dance, a dramatic work that centers around indigenous life in the 20th century. Artemis Preeshl's 1999 production at Expanded Arts (NYC) starred Ted Minos and then up-and-coming Lakota actor Chaske Spencer.
Starr currently resides in the Hudson Valley with his two children, Iain and Delia.