The Kennedy Center

Dave Meder


Pianist, composer and educator Dave Meder is quickly becoming one of the prominent artists of his generation, known for a panoramic, genre-bending approach that has earned him slots in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition and the American Pianists Awards. His debut album, Passage (OutsideIn Music), demonstrates a stunning versatility, traversing an affecting gospel standard, a bold deconstruction of Monk, a title track inspired by minimalists Philip Glass and John Adams, and pieces featuring the most progressive ideas in jazz harmony, rhythm and improvisation. Indeed, Meder’s defining aesthetic is his remarkably postmodern sense of stylistic adventure.

Passage is also an ideal showcase for Meder’s cultivated gifts as a composer-arranger, talents that earlier earned him an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, the FirstMusic Commission of the New York Youth Symphony, and a slot in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. He has performed in some of New York’s most hallowed rooms, with dates at Smalls Jazz Club, a multi-night solo-piano engagement at Jazz at Kitano and several headlining stands at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. His international bookings have included a Tokyo Jazz Festival appearance, as well as a guest appearance with the Tom Jobim Youth Orchestra at São Paulo’s iconic Ibirapuera Auditorium. In 2013 he won the esteemed Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition, and he was recently named a finalist for the 2019 American Pianists Association Cole Porter Fellowship—like the Monk competition, among the most prestigious contests in jazz.

As the Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano at the University of North Texas, Meder is the youngest instructor employed in one of the nation’s most renowned music programs. Before he relocated from New York to Texas for the UNT post, he taught at NYU and Juilliard; he also served as a guest instructor abroad in Italy, as part of the Juilliard Jazz Workshop, and Honduras, in a program facilitated by the U.S. State Department.

During his undergraduate studies at Florida State University—from which Meder graduated summa cum laude in 2013 with degrees in music, Spanish and political science—tutelage under Marcus Roberts bolstered the pianist’s strikingly authentic handle on historical jazz styles. He was able to immerse himself in the music’s legacy firsthand in 2011, when he took part in two of jazz education’s most crucial incubators, the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program and the Steans Music Institute at the Ravinia Festival. A later move to New York afforded Meder a chance to study with jazz’s leading edge: Mark Turner, Ari Hoenig, Dave Douglas—as well as such leading classical educators as Julian Martin and Philip Lasser. He holds an MM from NYU and an Artist Diploma from Juilliard, where he toured as part of the premier ensemble of the school. Concurrent to his graduate studies, Meder worked for three years as the music director of Fordham Lutheran Church in the Bronx, furthering another creative through-line in his life. Indeed, his music conveys a tremendous depth, yet remains eminently soulful, a common aspiration not often attained in modern jazz.

Watch Past Performances

Video 7/29/2019: Dave Meder

This show celebrates the debut release of pianist and composer Dave Meder, a recent finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition and the American Pianists Awards. With support from bassist Dean Torrey and drummer Kenneth Salters, the group will embark on an ambitious postmodernist outing, traversing rarely-played Thelonious Monk pieces, gospel hymns, a title track inspired by Philip Glass, and original compositions touching on the whole American musical spectrum.