In October 2009 Grammy Award-winning pianist and conductor Peter Nero was honored with lifetime achievement awards from the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and the Philadelphia Musicians’ Union Local 77, AFM. He also received the Mario Lanza Award, in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of music, in November 2009.
“If the perfect pops conductor could be conjured, … he might answer to this description,” wrote Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Peter Dobrin: “Huge talent with polymath abilities and catholic tastes. Musician who actually enjoys giving audiences what they want. Plays piano like a dream. … [H]e might look something like Peter Nero.”
“Peter Nero is, of course, known for his piano playing, covering a range from classical concert repertoire to straight-ahead jazz. His fingers stretch as far as Art Tatum’s, and he practically knows no limits on the Steinway. He is also a fine conductor … Philadelphia is lucky to have him and his, by now, trademark Philly Pops,” said All About Jazz’s Victor L. Schermer on May 8, 2009.
“Nero … plays with the energy of a 20-year-old rock and roll drummer,” noted the Palm Beach Daily News on March 26, 2008. “His Juilliard training shows in the cleanliness of his technique and in his control of the tone of the piano. His technical arsenal includes brilliant passage work, rapid bass lines, arpeggio-like figures ascending and descending, and subtle dynamic variations. His fast playing is thrilling, and his slow playing is marked by a beautiful lyricism.”
A two-time Grammy Award-winning pianist, Peter Nero leads his unrivaled Pops orchestra blending classical, swing, Broadway, blues, and jazz—all performed with virtuosity, authenticity, and an inviting sense of humor. The Washington Post has called him “the epitome of the Pops Conductor/Performer.”
One of his greatest achievements is being the founding Music Director of the world renowned Peter Nero and the Philly Pops. On January 27, 2007, Mr. Nero joined Rod Stewart from the piano for a performance of “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” at the Academy of Music 150th Anniversary Concert. Mr. Nero’s recent guest performances include engagements with the Indianapolis Symphony, the National Arts Centre Symphony in Ottawa, the Charlotte Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, and the Baltimore Symphony, among others. His complete concert schedule can be found at www.peternero.com.
As a Steinway artist for close to 50 years, he recently returned to New York’s Carnegie Hall to perform at a gala celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Steinway with many noted pianists, including Dr. Billy Taylor, Herbie Hancock, and Michel Legrand. Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Nero began his formal music training at the age of seven. By the time he was 14, he was accepted to New York City’s prestigious High School of Music and Art and won a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music. Constance Keene, his teacher and mentor, once wrote in an issue of Keyboard Classics that “Vladimir Horowitz was Peter’s greatest fan!”
Peter Nero recorded his first album in 1961 and won a Grammy Award that year for “Best New Artist.” Since then, he has received another Grammy, garnered 10 additional nominations, and released 68 albums. His early association with RCA Records produced 23 albums in eight years. His subsequent move to Columbia Records resulted in a million-selling single and album—The Summer of ’42—now available on CD.
His recordings over the last 13 years include two CDs with the Philly Pops, Holiday POPS! and Broadway Showstoppers, and three CDs with full symphony orchestra: On My Own, Classic Connections, and My Way. He also recorded Peter Nero and Friends, which contains collaborations with Mel Torme, Maureen McGovern, and Doc Severinsen, among others. His latest CDs are romantic albums titled Love Songs for a Rainy Day and More in Love. By popular demand, four of his earlier vinyl recordings have been re-issued on CD. Music lovers of all generations can now hear him on Rod Stewart’s album As Time Goes By … The Great American Songbook, Volume II.
Mr. Nero’s first major national TV success came at age 17 when he was chosen to perform Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on Paul Whiteman’s TV special. He subsequently appeared on many top variety and talk shows, including 11 guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and numerous appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
Hailed as one of the premier interpreters of Gershwin, Mr. Nero starred in the Emmy Award-winning NBC Special “S’Wonderful, S’Marvelous, S’Gershwin.” Other TV credits include performances on PBS-TV’s “Piano Pizzazz” and with the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., on its July 4th special titled “A Capitol Fourth.” He served as music director and pianist for the PBS-TV special “The Songs of Johnny Mercer: Too Marvelous for Words” with co-stars Johnny Mathis, Melissa Manchester, and the Philly Pops.
Among Mr. Nero’s long list of honors are six honorary doctorates (the most recent from Drexel University in 2004) and the prestigious International Society of Performing Arts Presenters Award for “Excellence in the Arts.” He is also included on two historic walks of fame—one in Philadelphia, and one in Miami, Florida. In 1999 he received the Pennsylvania Distinguished Arts Award, presented by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. Previous honorees include Marian Anderson, James Michener, Andrew Wyeth, and Riccardo Muti. In February 2009, the Abraham Lincoln Foundation of the Union League of Philadelphia presented Mr. Nero with its prestigious Lincoln Award as part of its Lincoln Day 200th Anniversay celebration. The Award is given to persons of distinction who, through their actions, have significantly contributed to the United States of America.
Peter Nero is an active supporter of many important causes, including the funding of school music programs, fundraising for the building of new arts centers across the country, as well as research for cancer, dystonia, and autism.
When not touring the world, Peter Nero makes his home in the Philadelphia area. He has two children—Beverly, a successful film producer residing with her husband in California, and Jedd, a commercial real estate entrepreneur residing with his wife near New York City. Both children have made him a grandfather.