When it comes to having developed a love and talent for playing the piano, Baltimore native Cyrus Chestnut’s musical abilities have taken him from the streets of Charm City to locations around the world.
Yet, this musical virtuoso manages to maintain a love-connection for his hometown that often brings him back to perform in his original environment.
On Sunday, September 10, 2017, Chestnut performed for the Steinway Series at Silo Hill in suburban Phoenix, Maryland— a few miles from Baltimore City.
Considered a virtuoso on the 88s, Chestnut was invited by Steinway Series board members to help “reinvent the way people experience live classical music while raising awareness of, and funding for Parkinson’s Research and Support Services.”
Silo Hill Board President, Carolyn Black-Sotir’s parents both died of Parkinson’s disease.
The product of a spiritual family, Chestnut’s music career started at age three at Baltimore’s Mount Calvary Star Baptist Church where his father, McDonald Chestnut, is church pianist and his mother, Flossie Chestnut, is a choir director. By age nine, Cyrus studied classical piano at Baltimore’s renowned Peabody Institute. After graduating from Peabody, his family moved to suburban Harford County where he graduated from North Harford High School in 1981.
In 1985, Chestnut moved to Boston where he earned a jazz composition and arranging degree from the Berklee College of Music. There, he was awarded Eubie Blake Fellowship, Quincy Jones Scholarship and Oscar Peterson Scholarship awards. From 1986-1993, Chestnut toured with jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks, along with Terrence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Wynton Marsalis and Betty Carter.
Following the Silo Hill performance, Chestnut is scheduled to perform in Mississippi and then onto the Ukraine, in Eastern Europe.
In November 2015, Chestnut joined jazz giants Buster Williams, bass; and drummer Lenny White for a new recording, which was released in May 2016. His latest CD, “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit,” reflects his continued appreciation for spiritual music.
The Steinway Silo Hill Series features renowned pianists who perform throughout the year. Upcoming artists are Sara Davis Buechner, on November 4; and Pablo Lavandera with violinist Joanna Kaczorowska on April 28, 2018.
For more information about the Steinway Silo Series, access firstname.lastname@example.org.