In an age of exceptional pianists, Cristina Altamura, international concert pianist, embraces an “older European sensibility” while capturing the spirit of a contemporary, multi-ethnic world. Critic John Keeler observed her playing to be “brilliant, powerful and poetic, ushering in a new generation of pianism,” while world-renowned conductor Karel Mark Chichon described her as “an orchestra’s delight whose charisma holds the audience until the last bow.”
As a teen, Ms. Altamura made her Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium) solo orchestral debut with conductor, Gisèle Ben-Dor, at the helm. Her European debut took place with the Bucharest Philharmonic under the baton of Karel Mark Chichon. This was followed by an invitation to be principal soloist of the State Philharmonic of Bacau, a position she held from 2000-2002. Her close musical association with Romania resulted in performances and recordings with all of the major Romanian orchestras, as well as other European orchestras.
In 2003, Ms. Altamura was presented at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in a program of two piano concertos — Mozart’s K.488 and Beethoven’s First. She has since performed in major festivals and concert halls throughout the world. She is a frequent guest on New York’s WQXR.
In 1997, Ms. Altamura was the only American musician awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy. Her winning, uncut audition tape was broadcast on WQXR’s McGraw-Hill Young Artists Showcase. That same year, she was awarded a scholarship from the National Italian American Foundation in Washington, D.C. and a subsequent Alitalia Airlines grant for touring. She has attracted wide support from the Italian consulates in England, Canada and the United States.
Cristina Altamura’s artistry stems from a deep connection to her Italian-born parents. Her opera singer mother’s influence reaches profoundly into Ms. Altamura’s bel canto-informed Chopin interpretations. The recent 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth provided Ms. Altamura the perfect platform for her distinctive interpretations of his music.
It also marked her introduction to Canadian audiences and press. In 2010, her “Hommage à Frédéric Chopin” recitals in Montreal, among other places, received high critical acclaim. Writing for La Presse, Claude Gingras noted, “The young pianist of Italian origins opened the concert with seven of the twelve (Chopin) etudes from Op. 10. These pages from the piano repertoire are monstrously difficult, but Cristina Altamura performed them effortlessly and with a power that was astonishing.” Her Chopin anniversary tour culminated in a performance of the Piano Concerto No. 2 with the New World Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Canadian conductor, Michel Brousseau.
Ms. Altamura’s cosmopolitan taste, reflected in her multi-disciplined and multi-cultured background, also extends to Latin America. In 2004, she caught the attention of Guido López-Gavilán, the composer and principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, who invited her to present a solo recital in Havana. The concert was subsequently broadcast throughout South America.
Her Cuban experience left an indelible mark, one that led Ms. Altamura to solicit works from living Latin American composers, including López-Gavilán and Colombian composer-percussionist, Samuel Torres. Her popular program, Extreme Latin! presents a fresh new look at classical Latin American idioms while retaining their magic, exoticism and mystery.
The pianist’s background also includes training at the Joffrey Ballet School. Most notably, Ms. Altamura conceived a project fusing Bach with cutting-edge break-dance. She further developed the concept with Rokafella, a world-renowned, pioneer female break-dancer and choreographer. Their collaborative debut took place at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, and they performed for a thousand-plus audience at Central Park Summer Stage.