Adam Birnbaum Named Cole Porter Fellow

Brookline, Mass. native and New England Conservatory Prep alum Adam Birnbaum (pictured) won the sixth Triennial American Jazz Piano Competition, held May 8 at the Madame Walker Theatre in Indianapolis, Ind. Named the 2004 Cole Porter Fellow, Birnbaum, 25, received a $15,000 cash prize, as well as career assistance and professional engagements for the next two years. His award also includes appearances at the Indy Jazz Fest in 2004 and 2005, representation on a commercial CD jazz sampler and a touring program.

A graduate of Boston College and the Juilliard School, Birnbaum received his early training in both classical music and jazz at New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School where he took private studio lessons, played or sang in ensembles, and studied theory and improvisation techniques. His jazz instructors included Danilo Perez, Charlie Banacos, Kenny Barron, and Fred Hersch. While attending Boston College, he studied piano privately with NEC faculty Patricia Zander.

Now living in New York City, Birnbaum is a regular accompanist for the Mark Morris Dance Company and plays jazz gigs at a variety of venues. He has been a featured soloist at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival and was named Outstanding College Rhythm Section Performer at the 2000 Reno Jazz Festival. In January 2003, he recorded a solo piano album for Yamaha’s Rising Start series for Disklaviers.

Birnbaum competed against five other jazz pianists in various performing spaces around Indianapolis, including high schools, community centers and retirement homes. The competition ended with solo- and trio- format performances at the Jazz Kitchen and unaccompanied solos and a performance with Indianapolis’s Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra.