Cristina Altamura, pianist
“A real tradition is not the relic of a past that is irretrievably gone; it is a living force that animates and informs the present.”
Pianist, educator, and impresaria Cristina Altamura has a multi-hued career shaped by a rich understanding of musical traditions with a distinctly modern flair for communication. She weaves together a crystalline technique, inspired musicality, innovative collaborations, creative programming, a love of community engagement, and a deep knowledge of pedagogy into a lush musical tapestry.
With a prodigious foundation in the repertoire of Western Europe, Altamura’s professional career began with a European debut with the Bucharest Philharmonic led by Karel Chichon; they subsequently developed a fruitful artistic partnership. This debut also led to her appointment as the principal soloist of the State Philharmonic of Bacau from 1999-2003; in this position, she recorded and performed a vast range of the piano concerto repertoire with orchestras throughout Romania and Europe.
Recent notable appearances include performances of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (with 24 pianists) at Spectrum NYC and the Italian Academy at Columbia University; concerts with Dan Trueman and Sō Percussion’s Adam Sliwinski performing the innovative “bitKlavier” instrument at (le) Poisson Rouge and elsewhere; and collaborations with legendary bgirl and choreographer, Rokafella, exploring the intersection of counterpoint, hip-hop, break dance, and the music of J.S. Bach in dates at the Kennedy Center, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, and at Central Park SummerStage. Altamura has performed concerti at Carnegie Hall (Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue) and at Lincoln Center (Mozart K. 488 and Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1) and has been presented in recital in Havana Cuba at the renowned Basilica de San Francisco. This honor was facilitated by Maestro Guido Lopez Gavilan, Principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.
As a presenter and programmer, Cristina Altamura is Associate Artistic Director and US liaison for the Nuova Coppa Italy’s oldest piano competition for age categories, and the founder and leader of the Gavilan Project, a flexible chamber ensemble that explores the music of Guido Lopez Gavilan, whose music has been described as a kind of Cuban magical realism. Altamura’s artistry is deeply shaped by a reverence for the experience and wisdom of musical elders, and the role of musical lineage in contemporary performances. With this inspiration in mind, she has founded Legacy Arts International, a platform through which she can preserve and share the musical knowledge of a range of important living artists. Through this initiative, Altamura is currently writing a book about the impact of piano teacher Franco Scala, founder and director of the tremendously influential L’Accademia Pianistica d’Imola in Italy.
Altamura’s keen interest in musical legacy is rooted in early childhood; her mother, the opera singer and master voice teacher Carmela Bucceri Altamura studied singing during opera’s golden era with Maria Callas’ teacher and is the founder and director of the Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition. Raised in this environment of musical exploration, Altamura’s musical sensibilities are shaped by bel canto traditions and an appreciation for the importance of music as community. Altamura was a Fulbright Fellow and studied in Italy from 1995-2002, first with Marcelo Abbado and then with Maestro Franco Scala. Her artistic education also includes ballet studies at the Joffrey Ballet School and with former Ballet-Russes and New York City Ballet dancers, and training in line drawing and oil painting.
As an educator, Altamura has served on the faculty of the United Nations International School, taught students at Rutgers University, and private studios exploring a full range of art beyond the keyboard in New York, New Jersey, and Italy. She is Founder and Director of the Altamura Studio Summer Piano Lab and is currently compiling curriculum and performance programs for teaching bitKlavier, a next generation keyboard technology developed by Princeton composer/inventor, Dan Trueman.
Cristina Altamura received her Masters Degree from Rutgers University, and her Bachelors at The Mannes College of Music. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband Adam Sliwinski and son Guillermo.