Meet Artist-in-Residence, Daniel Pesca

Pianist and composer Daniel Pesca joined the Music Department in the fall of 2016 as lecturer and Director of the Chamber Music Program. We asked Daniel a few questions to get to know him better. 

How did you get started in music? 

Once I began piano lessons at age seven, I was almost immediately completely consumed by a passion for playing and writing music. I grew up in Alabama, where opportunities for high-quality musical training were limited—so I was lucky to begin studying at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY at the age of 16.

How did you come to develop a passion for chamber music?

My passion for performing both chamber music and contemporary music dates to my undergraduate years at Eastman. I started accompanying my freshman year and never stopped. I found immense joy in the process of working with others, especially after my early training as both pianist and composer, which was so solitary. Now I regard collaboration as one of the most rewarding aspects of being a musician!

Who have been your favorite artistic collaborators?

I've been fortunate to have so many extraordinary collaborators—but I must mention flutist Sarah Frisof, who is coming from out of town to play with me on my upcoming recital. Sarah and I have been playing together for over a decade now, playing at universities and on concert series across the country, and we released our first CD last summer.

I also must mention my close collaborations with composers, especially three members of the faculty at Eastman: Robert Morris, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. Bob (as we call him) and Carlos have written substantial pieces for me, and I'm looking forward to participating in a recording of Ricardo's music this coming year.

I love projects that bring music into dialogue with the other arts. Several years ago, I had the extraordinary opportunity to premiere a new series of brand-new solo pieces inspired by the paintings of Anna Schuleit Haber—the stage was surrounded by her monumental canvases!

What are you most excited for in your new role at the University of Chicago?

I've been enjoying my time here at the University immensely! It is a great pleasure to lead the Chamber Music Program with the collaboration of the Spektral Quartet, who are both extraordinary musicians and great people, and the students I've worked with in the program are inquisitive and eager. I'm amassing ideas for the future—I see immense potential in the program, and I think our upcoming events will be very exciting! I'm pleased to be an artist-in-residence with the New Music Ensemble, too, under the tireless direction of Barbara Schubert. The University is fortunate to have such marvelous student and faculty composers, and it's a pleasure to contribute to concerts that showcase their works!

What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

Since I just started here in September, I'm still learning the ropes. So, my hope is that, during 2017, I'll continue to find my feet in Chicago—at the University, yes, but also in the wider city. It was inspiring to witness—and to perform on!—the Ear Taxi Festival just a few weeks after my move to town this Fall. The Festival showcased the range of music-making this city has to offer, which is truly astonishing! I'm also looking forward to the travels I have planned this summer—performing residencies in Vermont, Italy, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis. One of the great pleasures of being a musician is getting to see so many different places—and getting to meet and work with new musicians!

For more information about Daniel, you can visit his website at