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 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 working with a myriad of artists from rock to jazz (and just about everything in between). Starr has also 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.
In addition to his love of drumming, composing music remains 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 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) was 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 Andy LaVerne called Twelve Pieces, "a great and valuable addition to the piano literature.”
Another highlight for Starr was the 2007 premiere of his piece The Stones of Carnac (for tenor saxophone and strings). This performance featured world-renowned saxophonist, Iain Ballamy and it received a standing ovation at The Lighthouse: Poole's Centre for the Arts (UK). 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 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. (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. Starr has also penned several educational articles for takeLessons.com.
In 2010, Starr was the featured speaker at Loyola University's 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, The Windsong of Crazy Horse.
Since 1995, Starr has also appeared as a guest artist and clinician at colleges and universities throughout the country. Most recently, he was invited to speak to composition students 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 was also a student of the great jazz pianist/organist Michael LeDonne.
Starr currently resides in the Hudson Valley with his two children, Iain and Delia.