The Helena Symphony proudly presents a special concert on Saturday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center featuring legendary Pianist & Composer Philip Aaberg. As one of Montana’s most celebrated musicians, the classically-trained Harvard University graduate incorporates classical, jazz, bluegrass, rock, and new music elements into his compositions and musical structures. Although best known for his solo piano work, Mr. Aaberg is most at home in the chamber jazz genre. His compositions are noted for their “rigorous keyboard technique, diverse influences, and colorful compositional style.”
The Helena Symphony produced special concert is also part of Philip Aaberg’s new recording release. Titled Versatile, the new album “features Chicago blues to Southern rock to the flowing water of a big river,” explains Mr. Aaberg. The album can be purchased at the special concert on November 11, which is immediately followed by an album release and dance party in the Helena Civic Center.
Rolling Stone magazine hailed Mr. Aaberg as “a deft, ebullient rocker,” and Keyboard Magazine proclaimed “Phil is the genuine article… an innovator in a stylistic neighborhood bordered by great American composers Aaron Copland and Charles Ives, and performers Bruce Hornsby and Keith Jarrett. It’s a uniquely American sound…” The Grammy-nominated and Emmy-nominated virtuoso pianist has toured the globed performing his influential Western Americana sounds combined with jazz, bluegrass, and rock, and he has one of the largest followings in Montana and throughout the country.
Born in Havre, Montana and raised in Chester, Montana, Mr. Aaberg started performing with local bands at dances at 14 years old. He also toured and recorded as a member of Elvin Bishop‘s Group at the time of its greatest popularity, and co-wrote the title song of the band’s 1976 Struttin’ My Stuff release, an album which also included Bishop’s biggest hit, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” featuring Mr. Aaberg on piano. In 1985, he released the highly acclaimed solo album High Plains that showcased his eclectic musical background. He followed this up with seven more solo albums: Out of the Frame (1988), Upright (1989), Cinema (1992), Field Notes (2000), and the Grammy Award-nominated Live from Montana (2000), Christmas (2002), and Blue West (2005).
Mr. Aaberg has performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra and at the Marlboro Chamber Music Festival. As a guest artist, he has been featured on over 200 albums and on PBS’s All-American Jazz program, earning him an Emmy Award nomination. As one of the most sought-after pianists, Mr. Aaberg has appeared with world-acclaimed artists, including Peter Gabriel and Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers. Currently he runs his own record label designed to produce music that “connects a global audience to the sweeping landscape of the West.”
Throughout his career, Mr. Aaberg has produced music that consistently translated Montana’s farms, ranches, and native cultures into “musical concepts” and has “forged a unique keyboard style that paints an audible portrait of his home state.” He also produces a public radio program “Of the West: Creativity and Sense of Place.” He received a Montana Governor’s Award for the Arts, and in 2011 he received a Montana Arts Council Innovator Award. His score for “Class C: The Only Game in Town” was nominated for a regional Emmy Award.