MICHEL CAMILO was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, he studied for 13 years at the National Conservatory earning a degree of “Professorship in Music” and at the age of 16 became a member of the National Symphony Orchestra of his country. He moved to New York in 1979 where he continued his studies at Mannes and Juilliard School of Music. Since his 1985 Carnegie Hall debut he has become a prominent figure performing regularly at festivals throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, Asia, Middle East, South America and the Caribbean.
His twenty recordings to date have been recognized with a Grammy award, an Emmy award, two Latin Grammy awards, two Grammy award nominations and two Premios de la Música (Spain). He has recorded in Solo, Duo, Trio, Sextet, Big Band and with Symphony Orchestras, as well as film soundtracks. He moves with ease between the worlds of Jazz, Latin and Classical music.
Highlights include his two year appointment as Jazz Creative Director Chair of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, his participation at the 55th Anniversary Celebration of George Wein’s Newport Jazz Festival, a five year tenure as Musical Director of the Heineken Jazz Festival (Dominican Republic), president of the jury at the Montreux Jazz Solo Piano competition, as well as member of the jury at the Jacksonville Great American Jazz Piano competition, featured in the award winning Latin Jazz documentary film Calle 54, JazzWeek Artist of the Year, Artist in Residence at the Klavier Piano Festival Ruhr, voted among the Top 10 Jazz Pianists of the Year at the 69th Annual DownBeat Magazine Readers Poll, a three year Herb Alpert Visiting Professorship at Berklee College of Music, Meet the Composer and NYSCA composition grants, co-Artistic Director of the first Latin-Caribbean Music Festival at the Kennedy Center performing the world premiere of his Concerto for Piano & Orchestra No. 1 with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin (commissioned by the NSO), and the world premiere of his Rhapsody for Two Pianos and Orchestra (commissioned by the Philharmonia Orchestra) performed by Katia & Marielle Labèque at the Royal Festival Hall. He played the world premiere of his Concerto for Piano & Orchestra No. 2, commissioned by the Tenerife Auditorium, as guest soloist with the Tenerife Symphony Orch conducted by Lü Jiá.
Mr. Camilo has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D’Rivera, George Benson, Tito Puente, Herbie Hancock, Tomatito, Mongo Santamaria, Joe Lovano, Arturo Sandoval, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Cachao, Danish Radio Big Band, Jon Faddis, Chucho Valdés, George Wein, Jaco Pastorius, Gloria Estefan, Dr. Billy Taylor, Celia Cruz, Tania Maria, Enrique Morente, Michel Petrucciani, Monty Alexander, David Sánchez, Airto & Flora Purim, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Stanley Turrentine, Giovanni Hidalgo, Toots Thielemans, Patato, Michael Brecker. Randy Brecker, Ketama, Eddie Palmieri, Roby Lakatos, Alfredo Rodriguez, Ana Belén, Hiromi, and Esperanza Spalding among others.
Guest engagements with prestigious symphony orchestras include the National (NSO), Detroit, Cleveland, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta, Gulbenkian, BBC, Nacional (Spain), Orchestre National d’Lyon, New Japan, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Arhus, Madrid, RTVE, Barcelona, Euskadi Orkestra, Navarra, Cadaqués, Seville, Bilbao, Málaga, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, NorrlandsOperan, Magna Grecia, Nacional (Dom. Rep.), Puerto Rico, Queens, Long Island, Andrés Segovia Chamber Orchestra, and Indiana University Philharmonic, among others. He has recorded his compositions with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin (Decca/Universal), and Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue and Concerto in F with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra (Telarc) conducted by Ernest Martínez Izquierdo. In 2009, Mr. Camilo performed at Carnegie Hall as a guest of Hungarian gypsy violinist Roby Lakatos. The year 2010 included several tours of Europe, the U.S., Japan and the Caribbean in Solo Piano, Trio, Big Band, and as guest soloist with the Arhus Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta de Cámara Andrés Segovia and a tour with the Euskadi Symphony Orchestra; as well as Duo projects with Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés and Flamenco guitarist Tomatito. Mr. Camilo’s CD/DVD box titled Caribe – Michel Camilo Big Band (Calle 54 Records/Sony Music) was released in Europe and Japan. This live concert was filmed by academy award winner Spanish director Fernando Trueba.
In March 2011, Mr. Camilo performed the premiere in America of his Concerto for Piano & Orchestra No. 2- Tenerife at the National Theatre of his native Dominican Republic with the Festival Symphony Orchestra conducted by Philippe Entremont. In May, he performed the Scandinavian premiere at the Royal Academy of Music with the Copenhagen Philharmonic conducted by Grant Llewellyn.
In June 2011, EmArcy/Universal Music released his latest album Michel Camilo – Mano a Mano celebrating his concerts in the US, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Taiwan and Japan. Mr. Camilo played the US premiere of his new album as part of the 57th Newport Jazz Festival.
In October 2011, Mr. Camilo performed the US premiere of his Concerto for Piano & Orchestra No. 2 – Tenerife with the Detroit Symphony, as well as the premiere in France of his Concerto for Piano & Orchestra No. 1 with the Orchestre National d’Lyon conducted by Leonard Slatkin; as well as in Croatia with the Zagreb Philharmonic conducted by Ernest Martínez-Izquierdo. Also, he was invited by Jesús López-Cobos and the Orquesta Nacional de España and performed Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 3 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue.
In 2012, the Michel Camilo – Mano a Mano world tour featured concerts in the U.S., Asia, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and South America; including festivals in New York, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Juan, Tokyo, Osaka, Vienna, Luzern, Tenerife, Funchal, Lugano, Rotterdam, Santo Domingo, St. Riquier, Ohrid, Barquisimeto, Bogota, Cali and Medellin, among others. He did a five-city tour with the Euskadi Orchestra performing Gershwin’s Concerto in F and performed with his Trio in Denmark, and with Tomatito in Spain, Switzerland and Japan. The year 2013 includes Solo, Duo, Trio, Sextet, Big Band and Symphony Orchestras concerts worldwide including the Klavier Festival Ruhr, Umbria Jazz, North Sea, Luxembourg, Alicante, Malta, Vilnius, Sofia and Newport Jazz Festivals. His latest album Michel Camilo – What’s Up? (OKeh Records/Sony Music) had its world premiere at the Bern Int’l Jazz Festival Opera Gala.
In October, Mr. Camilo will be featured in Solo Piano engagements in Jazzatlantica (Spain), Dominican Republic and at SFJAZZ Center (US). He will perform Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm Variations and Rhapsody In Blue with the Galicia Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin at the Opera in La Coruña. And, he will play a two-week run with his Big Band at the Blue Note Clubs in New York and Tokyo, as well as be guest soloist with the Evergreen Symphony (Taiwan), Antalya Symphony (Turkey) and Tenerife Symphony (Canary Islands). Highlights in 2014 will include performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Duisburg Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Musikkollegium Winterthur Symphony; concerts with the Luxembourg and Danish Radio Big Bands, as well as Solo Piano recitals in Germany and Switzerland. Also, Mr. Camilo will be one of the artists prominently featured in the upcoming film Playing Lecuona.
Mr. Camilo’s honors include Honorary Doctorates from Berklee College of Music (Boston), Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña, UTESA University of Santiago, as well as an Honorary Professorship and Honorary Doctorate from his Alma Mater, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and the Crystal Apple from the Mayor of the City of New York. The Dominican Government awarded him its highest civilian honors: the Silver Great Cross of the Order of Duarte, Sanchez & Mella, Cultural Personality award, and Knight of the Heraldic Order of Christopher Columbus.