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Arturo O’Farrill

pianist, composer

Arturo O’Farrill (pianist, composer, and educator) was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. He received his formal musical education at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. O’Farrill’s professional career began with the Carla Bley Band and continued as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. In 2007, O’Farrill founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music.

In 2010, O’Farrill traveled with the original Chico O’Farrill’s Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra to Cuba, returning his father’s musicians to his homeland. He continues to travel to Cuba regularly as an informal cultural ambassador, working with Cuban musicians, dancers, and students, and bringing local musicians from Cuba to the U.S. and American musicians to Cuba.

During 2017-2018, O’Farrill performed with orchestras and bands including his own Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and Arturo O’Farrill Sextet, as well as other orchestras and ensembles in the U.S., Europe, Russia, Australia, and South America.

An avid supporter of the arts, O’Farrill has performed with Ballet Hispánico and the Malpaso Dance Company, for whom he has written three ballets. In 2017, Alvin Ailey Dance Company toured the ballet Open Door, choreographed by Ron Brown to several of O’Farrill’s compositions and recordings. Brown’s Evidence Dance Company commissioned him to compose New Conversations, which premiered in 2018 at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts. He has also received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Philadelphia Music Project, The Apollo Theater, Symphony Space, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Young Peoples Chorus of New York, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

O’Farrill’s well-reviewed and highly praised “Afro-Latin Jazz Suite” from Cuba: The Conversation Continues (Motéma) won the 2016 GRAMMY Award for Best Instrumental Composition and the 2016 Latin GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. In 2018, he won his sixth GRAMMY award: Best Instrumental Composition for “Three Revolutions,” a work from Familia-Tribute to Chico+Bebo.