Arts & Humanities Campus News

Celebrated jazz pianist Brad Mehldau makes UGA Presents debut

Brad Mehldau (Photo by David Bazemore)

One of the most lyrical and intimate voices of contemporary jazz piano, Grammy winner Brad Mehldau has forged a unique path that embodies the essence of jazz exploration, classical romanticism and pop allure.

From critical acclaim as a bandleader to major international exposure in collaborations with Pat Metheny, Renee Fleming and Joshua Redman, Mehldau continues to garner numerous awards and admiration from both jazz purists and music enthusiasts alike. He makes his UGA Presents debut with a solo performance Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at Hodgson Concert Hall.

Mehldau’s forays into melding musical idioms, in both trio and solo settings, has seen brilliant reworkings of songs by contemporary songwriters like The Beatles, Cole Porter, Radiohead, Paul Simon, George Gershwin and Nick Drake alongside the ever-evolving breadth of his own significant catalog of original compositions.

Mehldau’s musical personality forms a dichotomy. He is first and foremost an improviser and greatly cherishes the surprise and wonder that can occur from a spontaneous musical idea that is expressed directly, in real time. But he also has a deep fascination for the formal architecture of music, and it informs everything he plays.

In his most inspired playing, the actual structure of his musical thought serves as an expressive device. As he plays, he listens to how ideas unwind, and the order in which they reveal themselves. Each tune has a strongly felt narrative arch, whether it expresses itself in a beginning, an end, or something left intentionally open-ended. The two sides of Mehldau’s personality—the improviser and the formalist—play off each other, and the effect is often something like controlled chaos.

Mehldau has performed around the world at a steady pace since the mid-1990s, with his trio and as a solo pianist. His performances convey a wide range of expression. There is often an intellectual rigor to the continuous process of abstraction that may take place on a given tune, and a certain density of information. That could be followed by a stripped down, emotionally direct ballad. Mehldau favors juxtaposing extremes. He has attracted a sizeable following over the years, one that has grown to expect a singular, intense experience in his performance.

The UGA Performing Arts Center has a new piano—a 9-foot Steinway D made at the company’s plant in Hamburg, Germany. Mehldau’s recital is just one of the UGA Presents Year of the Piano events. Upcoming concerts in the series include concerts by pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin and the Takacs Quartet (March 24) and pianist Lang Lang (April 27).

This performance is supported by Brad and Vera Tucker.

Three ways to get tickets

  1. Purchase tickets online at
  2. Call the Performing Arts Center box office at 706-542-4400, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  3. Visit the UGA Performing Arts Center box office, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (five-minute parking is available in the drop off circle at the Performing Arts Center for purchasing or picking up tickets.)

Single tickets begin at $25, and UGA student tickets are just $10. Parking is free.

To learn more about all UGA Performing Arts Center events, visit