Born: March 11, 1962 Primary Instrument: Piano
Becky Archibald is an award-winning pianist, composer, recording artist, and educator. Spanning solo piano to chamber music to jazz, Becky’s music has taken her far – from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall (solo debut, 2006) to a California house concert playing Frank Sinatra’s piano, to the Dordogne Jazz Summer School (DJSS) in Monteton, France (composer-in-residence since 2009.) Known for her innovative programming, she produced “Fresh-Faced Jazz” for the Indianapolis Spirit and Place Festival, featuring jazz artists performing inner city children’s first musical compositions, and a live radio concert on WFYI’s “The Classical Connection,” featuring Archibald performing her compositions with members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, along with a reading by award-winning author and classical music reviewer for the New Yorker Magazine, Alex Ross. With the Ronen Chamber Ensemble, Becky co-produces “The Rite of Swing” – the annual showcase of her work in chamber music and jazz – which raises funds for her educational outreach both locally and abroad.
Becky was recently commissioned by the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) to write a jazz composition for the celebration of the completion of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a world-class urban bike and pedestrian path that connects neighborhoods, Cultural Districts and entertainment amenities. Her “Cultural Trail Theme,” written for 12 instruments, including saxophone quartet, trumpet, piano, Latin percussion and ‘cycla-phone’ (an instrument she invented out of bike parts) was premiered on May 10, 2013, at the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Brian Payne, CICF president and founder/leader of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, stated that commissioning Becky to write the theme “was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my 12 years at the foundation.”
An Anderson native, and a graduate of Anderson University, Becky holds a Master in Piano Performance from California State University at Long Beach. Her life took a new direction when she wrote a piano piece for her mom’s birthday in 1997—her first composition, Searching. Since then, Archibald has written over 200 compositions, and has released 5 piano CDs – Searching, The Long Ride Home, The Light at the End of the Blues, The Christmas One, and Mood Swing. Her music has been placed on cable and network television in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and in countries overseas, including China, Japan, Hong Kong, France, Finland, Poland, Russia and the UK. Becky’s chamber music has been commissioned by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Ronen Chamber Ensemble and Kent Leslie, and has received premieres by The Ronen Chamber Ensemble, The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Fishers Chamber Players, Butler University Composers’ Orchestra, and Alias Chamber Ensemble in Nashville, TN. She has written the score for a musical comedy, The Pied Piper of Hoboken, and music for the films Coming to My Senses and Robert Indiana: American Dreamer. She has been a guest artist at Butler University, Ball State, Depauw, Anderson, I.U.P.U.I and University of Indianapolis, the Indiana History Center, Indiana Landmarks, American Cabaret Theatre and The Jazz Kitchen.
Becky’s CDs have been played on radio stations around the country and overseas, including NPR’s All Things Considered and All Songs Considered. “Her music unfolds like I expect a good story to unfold,” says Bob Boilen, creator of ASC. The L.A. Jazz Scene describes Mood Swing, a mix of solos and chamber music, as “consistently intriguing.” Just Plain Folks, an international organization of independent musicians, selected The Long Ride Home as “Best Solo Instrumental Album” in their 2002 CD awards. And The Christmas One received a “Recording of Exceptional Merit” award in 2006 from Wisconsin Public Radio, WRST-FM. Becky also performs her piano/horn duet, “Bittersweet,” with Kent Leslie on his 2007 release, With Every Leaf a Miracle.
Another surprising turn in Becky’s career happened a few years ago . . . in France. Through a 2008 Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Becky fulfilled a dream of immersing herself in jazz studies at the Dordogne Jazz Summer School in the village of Monteton, where she wrote and premiered her first chart, “Midnight at Monteton.” Returning home to Indiana, Archibald dove into a flurry of writing. Becky recently published three jazz songbooks of her French-inspired music, and, with Jim Farrelly as co-producer, she released a new jazz CD, Midnight at Monteton, in June, 2013. Becky is the 2009 recipient of the Outstanding Alumni in Music Award from Anderson University. She has also received grants from the Indiana Arts Commission, ASCAPlus, the Indianapolis Foundation and Central Indiana Community Foundation. Becky serves as Professor of Composition at Anderson University, and is a private teacher in Indianapolis. Becky also enjoys writing and telling stories about the creative process. Please visit her blogs at startwithablankpage.blogspot.com and beckysblogfromfrance.blogspot.com.
Awards:Outstanding Alumni in Music Award from Anderson University – 2009 Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis - 2008 The Christmas One received a “Recording of Exceptional Merit” award in 2006 from Wisconsin Public Radio, WRST-FM. Just Plain Folks, an international organization of independent musicians, selected The Long Ride Home as “Best Solo Instrumental Album” in their 2002 CD awards.
The interpretations of her songs on this CD are excellent, featuring some of the finest jazz musicians based in Indianapolis. Particularly rewarding is the playing of Jim Farrelly on soprano, alto and alto flute, flugelhornist P.J. Yinger and guitarist Sandy Williams plus the pianist herself.
Midnight At Monteton (available from www.beckyarchibald.com) is highly recommended. — Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene, August 2013 (Read more at http://www.scottyanow.com/LAJSCDRevAug.html)
“Becky Archibald’s music is a music all its own – part jazz, part classical, part serious, part popular – that gives tone and color to the feelings we all have. That’s what good music does. She’s a great accompanist to the spoken word, and her recorded music is something to keep close by – it’s music that belongs in our lives. — Bill Harley, Grammy-winning storyteller/songwriter
“Her music unfolds like I expect a good story to unfold.” — Bob Boilen, creator, NPR’s All Songs Considered.
A terrific, jazzy release! From ballads, to swing, to blues, Becky Archibald's first record with a jazz combo offers a different and welcome sound. Listen and you'll agree: Once Is Not Enough. – Don Wolff, St. Louis radio host, I Love Jazz
“. . .she's broadened her musical reach to take in real jazz played with top-drawer veterans of the scene.. . .Her fetching compositions give comfortable space to three top Indianapolis bassists, and they revel in it: Steve Dokken on 'Lemonade' and 'Deux Chapeaux,' Jack Helsley on 'Can't Let It Go' and 'And Then There Were Two' and Fred Withrow on Bullet Proof Blues. The arrangements are tidy and spunky, sometimes, as in 'Can't Let It Go', recalling the bop-era small-group swing sound fashioned by Manny Albam, Al Porcino and others. Jim Farrelly enjoys a slew of nice showcases for his adeptness on a range of reeds; speaking of which, the proceedings get off to a rollicking start with a cameo bass-clarinet appearance by Mark Ortwein in 'Deux Chapeaux.' – Jay Harvey, read more at http://jayharveyupstage.blogspot.com/
“Archibald’s music is a thoughtful flow of ideas, written and improvised, with flashes of humor but an introspective quality drawn from the wells of Chopin, New Age and Gershwin. . . “ — Robert Doerschuk, Nashville Scene, Nashville, Tennessee, June 26, 2003.
“Classifying her work is like wrestling a sand dune. In Archibald’s universe, unique musical life forms evolve from random strands of piano-key DNA” — Gary Weir, Indianapolis NUVO Newsweekly, July 23, 2003. 4-Star Concert Review.
“Pianist Becky Archibald’s solo set is consistently intriguing. Her melodic compositions, although obviously worked out in advance to an extent, sound very spontaneous, lyrical and logical. Her playing displays her classical technique and one is occasionally reminded of Keith Jarrett, but Ms. Archibald’s style and sound are quite original. While some of the songs on Mood Swing are thoughtful ballads and “Waltz” is a bit dreamy, Becky Archibald also introduces “A Really Mean Boogie Woogie” and the rollicking “Rocktober.” After performing 11 solo pieces, Ms. Archibald is heard on alternate versions of three songs, two taken as duets with and one as a trio. The heartfelt playing throughout this passionate set is haunting and memorable. Mood Swing is highly recommended and available from www.beckyarchibald.com. Becky Archibald deserves to be much better known in the music world.” — Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene, December 2007.
“. . .I’ve been a big fan of Becky Archibald’s original and distinctive music for a number of years. A lot of solo piano albums easily fade into the background, creating a warm ambiance, but Archibald’s music is often big, bold, and gutsy. She is also capable of breaking hearts with a tender, soulful melody. I love her versatility and the way she lets the listener in on the creative process and inspiration for each piece in the liner notes. Becky Archibald and her award-winning music deserve much broader recognition, and “Mood Swing” just might do it for her. Eleven of the fourteen tracks are solo piano; the last three are ensemble versions of songs that also appear as solos and are fascinating examples of how much adding one or more musicians can change the interpretation of a piece of music. “Mood Swing” is an outstanding album from start to finish, certain to touch your heart, put a big smile on your face, and get your toes to tappin’. . .” — Kathy Parsons, Solo Piano Publications, November, 2007. 5-Star CD Review.
“Is it still possible to do a solo piano Christmas album that is truly different without being too “out there”? In Becky Archibald’s hands, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” . . . My favorite is “Happy Holiday Rag,” which is a medley of “Happy Holiday,” “Up On the Housetop,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” This joyous little piece all but dances out of the CD player, closing the CD with a great big grin and a hearty “ho ho ho. . .” — Kathy Parsons, Solo Piano Publications, August, 2006. 5-Star CD Review.
“VERY FINE!! The recording quality, too, is the best. This is certainly one of the most fresh and unique Christmas CD's I have heard in a long time. I love your style ... it is so uniquely YOU!” — Tom Knox ,Nashville Public Radio—WPLN.
“. . .How do I decide which get the highest recommendation? I’m looking for those few who say something new with their interpretations, yet remain entirely in the spirit of the carol. Without question Becky Archibald's ‘The Christmas One’ tops this tree. Unlike most piano CDs I receive, hers won't work as background music at all. Your attention will keep returning to the music as she takes one delightful new turn after another with familiar carols.” — Gerry Grzyb ,Oshkosh Public Radio—WRST-FM.
“A lyrical and melodic player, Ms. Archibald begins and closes with swinging renditions of Jingle Bells and Happy Holiday Rag and otherwise mostly performs more introspective but still quietly joyful selections. Among the songs that she gives beauty to are O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Silent Night, Deck The Halls and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. The music is delightful and heartfelt, a perfect addition to anyone's Xmas Jazz collection.” — Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene, December 2005.
“Becky's unusual piano arrangements of the usual joyful classics, capture the other emotions associated with Christmas...melancholy, loneliness, yearning...that strike every one of us at least once in our lives. If you're feeling blue, Elvis isn't the only one to pull out this Christmas.” — Tanvi Patel, AMZ Music, Los Angeles, CA.
“The Light At The End Of The Blues is a set of thoughtful and melodic piano solos that are influenced by her classical training but full of jazz improvising. Although occasionally overlapping into New Age introspection, her solos feature more passion and variety than is heard in that idiom. . . Often taken out-of-tempo and sounding like the soundtrack of a dream, her piano solos develop gradually and logically but without being predictable. This subtle set grows in interest with each playing. . . it particularly rewards those who listen closely.” — Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene, February 2005.
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Willing to teach:
Professor of Composition, Anderson University Private lessons in piano and composition from my home studio in Indianapolis.