Pianist Josu Okiñena at Carnegie Hall
Okiñena presents his project “Xuxurlak” culminating his research on Spanish musical heritage.
Josu Okiñena has devoted his professional activity to research and interpretation, grounding it as a scientific activity from a transdisciplinary approach. He obtained his PhD at the University of Valladolid, and after receiving the first prize in piano and chamber music at the Conservatorio Superior in his hometown, Donostia-San Sebastián, he took lessons from Felix Lavilla and won the first prize at the Real Conservatorio de Música in Madrid, and in Santiago de Compostela the prize Andrés Segovia and José Miguel Ruiz Morales for the interpretation of Spanish music.
Later he moved to New York to study at the prestigious Julliard School of Music, taking lessons from Oxana Yabloskaya, then continuing his studies in London where he received advices from performers such as Krystian Zimmerman, Bruno Leonardo Gelber and Ivo Pogorelich. For five years, he took lessons from Maria Curcio, a former student of the legendary pianist Arthur Schnabel.
Once these influences were assimilated, which have resulted in a personal style that is admired in renowned halls around the world, Josu Okiñena returned to his hometown, Donostia, to support with his pedagogical work the creation of the Music Highest School in the Basque Country, Musikene, in 2001.
In addition, he has taught postgraduate courses in different universities in Spain, Latin America and the United States and has participated in seminars dedicated to musical research at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent, University of Warsaw and CUNY (City University of New York).
Okiñena has performed in some of the most prestigious venues in the world and has participated in prestigious International Festivals and collaborated with renowned orchestras. In 2006, due to his commitment to contemporary music and in particular to the composers of his country, he premiered together with the Euskadi Symphony Orchestra the “Concerto for piano and orchestra” by Ignacio Tellería.
Okiñena has recorded the complete works for voice and piano by Felix Lavilla, together with Cecilia Lavilla Berganza, and the complete works for voice and piano by Aita Donostia together with Almudena Ortega. In March 2011, Josu he received the prize from the University of the Basque Country and the Orfeón Donostiarra for his research about composer Aita Donostia entitled Autopoietic communication, the basis for musical interpretation: his study in the work for voice and piano by JA Donostia.
In 2013, he recorded a CD for the label Sony Classical with piano compositions by Aita Donostia, and was praised by critics as the pianist revelation of the year, placing his CD among the ten best albums of 2013. In 2014 he toured the U.S., performing in New York, Reno, Chicago and Miami. Two years ago he also recorded for Sony Classical a selection of piano works by Erik Satie.
Currently he combines his work as a teacher and researcher with the interpretation, while he is immersed in different musical projects such as the album Xuxurlak with its focus on recovering on Basque music heritage. Last year Okiñena started an international tour which will take him to the United States of America, the Southern Cone of Latin America, Europe and Japan.