Greg Giannascoli, marimba player and winner of the Competition for Advanced Music Study in 1997, wrote in a recent email: “I want to thank all of you at the Kenneth Mills Foundation and just let you know that winning that competition was very inspiring and helpful to me in many ways.”
Greg is referring to a competition presented by Patrons of Wisdom, a charitable organization founded by Dr. Kenneth G. Mills. (This organization was officially renamed the Kenneth G. Mills Foundation in 2004.) The competition was open to musicians who played any instrument or who sang. Applicants were required to be over the age of eighteen years, coming from Canada, the United States, and Mexico. After months of deliberation and live auditions of the finalists, adjudicators chose three who were brought to Toronto for the inaugural Gala Winners Concert on May 25, 1997, at the Glenn Gould Studio.
At the time, Dr. Mills stated: “My expectation for the young performers is that they achieve, via their music, a re-connection with the Soul of universal significance. With this music achieved, may a harmonic basis of life be established by the young musicians – and mature musicians – so that men and women will once again have access to the intuitive prompting to live in the realm of Wonder and its unconditional Love exemplified in the constant newness in the act of performance” (The Candy Maker’s Son: Memoirs of Kenneth G. Mills, p. 627).
After winning the first prize, Greg Giannascoli went on to complete his DMA and to perform on many Community Concert Association series throughout the United States, playing a mix of popular Americana and Romantic music (Gershwin, Bernstein, Liszt) with a pianist. He has premiered more than twenty new works for the marimba. For ten years Greg taught at the Juilliard Pre-college, where he “had the honor of working with some of the best young marimba players on the planet.” He still teaches, at New Jersey City University.
At the moment Greg is writing a book about how to practice and improve. He is interviewing many of the major marimba artists from the twentieth century about what they studied with their teachers and how that evolved into what they now do with their own students. Included with the book will be a CD of etudes that Greg feels are essential to becoming a better marimba player (to be published by Keyboard Publications).
Greg is also actively pursuing two other projects. He is organizing world premieres by Juilliard Pre-college students of works by Eric Ewazen, Andy Thomas, Ira Taxin, and Richard Sosa, which will be recorded and published. Also, he is performing classic modern works for marimba with winds by Japanese composers Tanabe, Noda, and Miyoshi. “Giannascoli’s performance of Miyoshi’s works was nothing less than astonishing, both in terms of artistry and virtuosity … tremendous facility … startling display of clarity and precision” (Splendid Music Magazine).
Greg Giannascoli’s recording with Orchestra 2001, Voices from the Heartland (American Song Book 7), was nominated for a Grammy award.
Find out more about Greg at www.greggiannascoli.com and watch his performance of “Rhapsody in Blue” from a recital on New Year’s Eve, 2017: