Gary Smart’s career has encompassed a wide range of activities as composer, classical and jazz pianist, and teacher. Always a musician with varied interests, he may be the only pianist to have studied with Yale scholar/keyboardist Ralph Kirkpatrick, the great Cuban virtuoso Jorge Bolet, and the master jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. A true American pluralist, Smart composes and improvises music that reflects an abiding interest in Americana, jazz, and world music, as well as the Western classical tradition.
Smart’s work has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Music Educator’s National Conference, the Music Teacher’s National Association, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Smart’s music has been performed in major venues in the United States, including the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, as well as venues in Europe and Asia. His Concordia for orchestra won the Concordia jazz composition award and premiered at Lincoln Center, New York.
Smart’s compositions are published by Margun Music (G. Schirmer) and his work has been recorded on the Mastersound, Capstone, and Albany labels. Smart’s latest CD, Blossoms (2012), which features 25 solo piano improvisations received a rave review from Fanfare Magazine. Critic Radu Leliutu called Smart’s musical ability “protean, utterly unique” and praised his “astonishing facility and ebullience.”
Smart has spent two residencies in Japan, teaching in programs at Osaka University and Kobe College. He has also taught in Indonesia as a “Distinguished Lecturer” under the auspices of the Fulbright program. Smart is currently a Presidential Professor of Music at the University of North Florida.