Acclaimed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as “a commanding solo player, the most supportive of accompanists, and a leader in chamber music,” pianist Jeffrey Sykes has performed throughout North and South America, Europe, and Japan. He has garnered praise for his interpretations of music both old and new: the San Francisco Examiner praised his appearance with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players as “a tour-de-force performance [that was] the evening’s major delight.” And The Well-Tempered Ear commented that “Mr. Sykes displayed the ideal Chopin touch and tone. His fleet fingers captured the lightness of the bel canto singing style in Chopin, with its filigree runs and quickly turned ornaments, all making the hard sound effortless and graceful.”
Together with violinist Axel Strauss and cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau, Sykes is a founding member of the San Francisco Piano Trio. Praised for its virtuosic ensemble playing throughout a wide repertoire ranging from the trios of Haydn and Beethoven to those of Leon Kirchner and Astor Piazzolla, the trio has performed throughout the United States. Mr. Sykes’ recent activities include performances at the African American Art Song Alliance; a tour along the Seine and Danube rivers; performances at the Musée des Impressionismes in Giverny, France, home of Claude Monet; performances in the US Virgin Islands; performances with the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society; a Carnegie Hall recital under the auspices of the Pro Musicis Foundation; a live broadcast over WGBH, Boston Public Radio; and a tour of Chile sponsored by the US State Department.
Mr. Sykes is the founder and artistic director of the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society of Wisconsin, a highly-acclaimed and innovative chamber music festival now in its thirty-second season. He was recently appointed Artistic Director of the Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio, Texas. He plays frequently at Music in the Vineyards in Napa Valley, California; and in 2007, he served as the guest artistic director of that festival. He has recorded for the Albany, CRI, Mandala, Centaur, and Cactus Pear record labels.
For eighteen years, Mr. Sykes served as the Music Director of Opera for the Young, a preeminent producer and presenter of opera for children that has introduced more than 2 million children to opera. He works extensively as a vocal coach throughout the US and teaches piano, chamber music, and vocal coaching at the University of California at Berkeley. He also joined the faculty of California State University-East Bay in the fall of 2008 where he directs the piano accompanying and vocal coaching programs.
Mr. Sykes holds degrees with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden-bei-Wien, Austria. He continued his education as a Fulbright scholar at the Hochschule für Musik in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. A recipient of the Jacob Javits Fellowship from the US Department of Education, he completed his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.