George F. Spicka

Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award
MD
Author: George F. Spicka
Credits: George F. Spicka

I. Composer / Pianist

 II. Paintings & Drawings

 III. Photography

IV. Video

 V. Hobbies & Interests

 VI. Unsolicited Comments

 VII. References

VIII. Available CDs

 

I. Composer / Pianist

Pianist GEORGE F. SPICKA has composed over 600 diverse works ranging from jazz, to electro-acoustic, to new music piano and chamber works, and music for worship and educational purposes.

A member of the Baltimore Composers Forum since 1994, he has debuted and performed over thirty new works. He has also served as board member, secretary, vice president, and president.

He has been showcased twice in New York under the sponsorship of American Music Center's NewMusicBox editor, Frank Oteri.

His music has been performed by Gary Thomas (Miles Davis), Edna Huang (Sonora Ensemble), Jacqueline Poulauf and Noah Getz (Pictures on Silence) Barry Dove (Global Percussion Ensemble), and the Powerhouse Big Band (Fletcher Music School).

Maryland Life Magazine's August 2011 online issue featured a piece about his video work, "The Maryland Suite," a work-in-progress encompassing new music and photography.

He was the featured performer for Baltimore Clayworks 2011 Winterfest Jazz Preview.

In 2009, the Fletcher School of Music's Powerhouse Big Band and Level III Jazz Ensemble featured his compositions and arrangements in concert, plus the school featured his ensemble performing a concert of original music.

2009 also saw him as founder, director and pianist for Baltimore Jazz Works, an ensemble that features performances of compositions from the Baltimore Jazz Real Book.

His 1988 composition, Free Fall, was used as the theme music for the Maryland Public Television produced TV commercials, promoting the 2008 Baltimore Free Fall Festival.

He conceived and organized the First Annual Baltimore Jazz Composers Showcase, which was held on October 23, 2005, at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center. This event was the subject of a feature article in the Baltimore Sun by writer Carl Schoettler.

In May of 2005, he debuted the original composition, "My Front Yard" on Maryland Public Television's "Artworks This Week," as part of the promotion for a Baltimore Composers Forum concert. He returned to the station in October 2005 to perform another composition, "Emerald Raindrops," which was featured in the First Annual Baltimore Jazz Composers Showcase.

He was commissioned by Heritage Theatre Artists' Consortium to write original music for the June/July 2005 world premiere of the play, "Levy's Ghost", by Lewis Schrager and directed by Harriet Lynn that was produced aboard the USS Constellation in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The play has been featured on Maryland Public Television's "Artworks This Week," Fox-45 TV, and reviewed by the Baltimore Sun.

In 1987, he founded JAZZ STREET STATION, an ensemble that performs the work of Greater Metropolitan Baltimore area jazz composers. In 1994, he engineered and produced the ensemble's debut CD, "The Rhythm Of Love," which was selected to appear on the 1994 Grammy Nominations Ballot and nominated for a Washington Area Music Association award in the contemporary jazz category. In the summer of 2000, "Flashback," one of his compositions from this CD, achieved the rank of #13 out of 800 listings in the MP3.com jazz vocalist genre competition.

Under his leadership as Artist Director and pianist, the group performed over six dozen concerts throughout the Mid-Atlantic region including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Oregon Ridge Park, Blues Alley, Baltimore Museum of Art, Wilmington Cityfest, King of France Tavern, Walters' Art Gallery, Frederick Festival of the Arts, Charleston Jazz Series and the Shore Jazz Society.

The group was selected as Round 3 Semifinalists in Musicians Magazine's "1996 Best Unsigned Band Competition," the only jazz group from Maryland in over 3,000 entries nationwide.

1996 saw the release of the CD single, "Go Home/Ride Me Home" by him and his late wife's original music roots rock band, "Jane Lamar & Snidley's Daughter," which received extensive acclaim and airplay in Europe. The same year, he performed for 6 weeks as the on stage pianist in Center Stage's production of Noel Cowards' Private Lives.

In 1997, they entered into a publishing agreement with Transition Music, (Hollywood) and subsequently have had a song placed in the New Image Entertainment film production, "October 22nd."

2002 saw his debut of his eleven-movement piece, "The St. Petersburg Suite," as part of Baltimore's Vivat! St. Petersburg Festival.

Honors: A former resident of Silver Spring, MD, he was nominated for the D.C. Mayor's Award for "Outstanding Emerging Artist." That same year, he was a finalist in American Mensa's "Arthur SIG Exchequer Award" for artistic excellence. He competed in the First Annual Theolonius Monk International Jazz Piano Competition and has been awarded two music composition grants by the Maryland State Arts Council for demonstrating "exceptional creativity and originality." He performed as a solo pianist for the Honorable John Conyers (D-Mich) and the Congressional Black Caucus, and was featured as a performer/panelist at the D.C. Federation of Musicians Jazz Symposium. His biography is listed in "Who's Who in the East" and "2000 Outstanding Musicians of the 20th Century."

Education: He attended the University of Maryland as a Music Education Major. He has studied improvisation and composition privately with internationally acclaimed jazz pianists/composers Jessica Williams and Marc Copeland, and studied composition and orchestration with 20th Century composer John Stevens, himself a student of Pierre Boulez.

Media: His activities have been highlighted in International Musician, the National Jazz Service Organization Jazz Journal, Music Monthly, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore City Paper, Maryland Live Magazine, Alive Magazine, and All About Jazz. He's performed on Fox 45's Morning News and twice on Maryland Public Television.

Radio features have included WBJC, WJHU, WEAA, WPFW and WTRI.

Organizations: He currently holds membership in the following: American Music Center, Sebelius Music, All About Jazz, American Federation of Musicians (locals 40-543/161-710), Broadcast Music Inc.(BMI), American Mensa, Baltimore Composers Forum (President/Vice-President/Secretary/Composer/Pianist/Recording Archivist), Baltimore Jazz Alliance (Life Member), Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, and the Baltimore Songwriters Association.

 

II. Paintings & Drawings

George showed talent at painting at an early age, and had several works displayed in grade school.

Influenced while studying with Jessica Williams, he began what was to be the creation of several hundred paintings and drawings in various mediums.

Throughout the 1980's, a number of his pen & ink drawings were used as cover art for the Metropolitan Washington Mensa newsletter, "Capital-M" and for American Mensa's special interest group newsletter, "M-Arts."

Starting in the 1990's, he began to use his paintings as cover art for his CD's and most recently, has begun to use his visual creations in the video medium.

 

III. Photography

Over the years, he has taken thousands of photographs, documenting everything from places his visited to daily life experiences.

He began utilizing these images as part of his video project work which begun in 2011.

 

IV. Video

Beginning in 2011, and combining his skills in composition and visual arts, he has so far created over 50 videos that have been uploaded onto YouTube and Vimeo. Some have been based on earlier compositions, while others are new work. Themes range from social commentary, to psychology and emotional states, to natural occurrences and scenes, some of which are overlooked by conventional media.

 

V. Hobbies & Interests

Developing an interest in fossils in grade school, he now has a collection garnered from over 50 localities in the Mid Atlantic region. Besides doing private research and giving talks on the subject, in the 1980's, he took four years of honors geology courses at Montgomery College, Rockville MD, and also served as a docent in the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of History Naturalist Center, where he reorganized and added over 100 new specimens to the local rocks collection.

In 2010, he bought an un-restored 1969 Chevrolet Caprice, which has gone on to win national awards and recognition in the Historic Preservation of Original Features classes of several national classic car clubs. Traveling to various meets and shows has provided additional opportunities to document events and locals of interest that might otherwise be overlooked.

 

VI. Unsolicited Comments

"It was a delightful journey as I followed your thoughts up, down, and around a wonderful spectrum." – Barry Glassman – Founder, Baltimore Jazz Alliance

" … the overall impression is…impressive. You should be proud!" – Gail Marten - Editor, Baltimore Jazz Alliance Newsletter

"I am so impressed by your piano playing and interpretation. You are really awesome !!!" - Brian B. Smith, Cold Spring Jazz Quartet

" …it captures the spirit of the performance and pays homage to the Baltimore Jazz Real Book." - Barry Glassman - Founder, Baltimore Jazz Alliance

"This is a very nice and well played. I cant really find a comparison to any other jazz pianist that I know. It reminds me of a kind of painting - dark colors flowing down into light colors coming up. You seem to be doing something similar by laying out small patterns of notes that contrast a bit with the patterns before and after, while still maintaining a harmonious flow". – Steve Estes, audiophile collector and jazz enthusiast

… the project was a big success last time, largely due to your efforts … and your reputation as a prolific and highly regarded composer …" – Mark Osteen - Chairman, Baltimore Jazz Alliance

"… And I am agog at your improvisational skills on Keyboard Mania. I can only imagine all the hours & sweaty practice that you've logged to be able to shift gears in tempo & mood so effortlessly." – Craig Hankins, Hopkins University

 "I've been listening to Famous Lost Words and enjoying it very much. I'm looking forward to the other discs." – John Lewis – Arts and Culture Editor, Baltimore Magazine

"What a diverse body of work. You are awesome!" – Wayne Alvarez, Director, 210 Jazz Orchestra – Austin TX

"I've been listening to your CD -- I absolutely love it! Damn good work!" – Ed Fatheringill - Director, Jazz Caravan

"Just a note to tell you how much I enjoy listening to your solo piano CD. It is really very interesting musically. It has a wide appeal. I turn it on for background music while I am reading but I can't concentrate. Something always grabs my attention and I turn the sound up and put my work down and just listen" - Blaise Keller – drums and percussion. - San Francisco

"There are things in it to admire. Much passion, drama. It's kind of like clouds. At the moment it seems to be shaping up to something, it changes to something else." – Gavin Brown - Baltimore Composers Forum

"George, I enjoyed listening to and seeing your ensemble in action. You have terrific ideas and style in your solos.- Robert C. Roberts, Arizona

 "Thanks so much for your CD's. they are awesome … A Glassful of Doubt' is simply brilliant and a masterpiece." – Mike Zampi - Zampi Productions, Baltimore MD

"This is just sublime. Thank you for something exceptionally beautiful". – Mark Chello - singer, songwriter

"I enjoy listening to how your music unfolds. It's not predictable. :))" - Roger Aldridge – composer

"It is pianist and composer in unison. A combination of Liszt and Monk at work. What Mr. Spicka gives us in A Glassful of Doubt, is a self-contained, bold declaration of belief in the creative spirit." - Mark Yacovone, Program Director, WDUQ-FM - Pittsburgh 

"Thank you very much for sending along Keyboard Mania. I think it is terrific. I've always personally liked improvisations of the sort you are doing ... I plan to give your CD to a friend ... He runs The Jazz Gallery, where jazz related art work is presented and wonderful concerts take place" - H.O. - Chiaroscuro Records, Broadway, NY

"I must say that you have put a lot of work into this demo. I'm really not used to see this kind of demo (and I get quite a few!). Very professional! I appreciate your technique, touch and your way of building your solos" -J.S. - Ayler Records, Sweden

 

VII. References

Frank Oteri: Editor – NewMusicJukebox, American Music Center – New York, N.Y. 212-366-5260 ext.15 / fjo@amc.net

Bob Jacobson - Vice President, Baltimore Jazz alliance / 410-415-5199 / BOBBOJ@aol.com

Cheryl Goodman – Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / 410-370-8994 cgoodman@bsomusic.org

Barry Glassman: Webmaster, BaltimoreJazz.com / 410-887-2490 bglassma@bellatlantic.net

Harriet Lynn: Director, Heritage Theater Artists' Consortium / 410-235-4457 / hlynn@umbc.edu

Paul Iwancio: Founder, Baltimore Songwriters Association / 410-455-3822 / iwancio@umbc.edu

Mark Osteen: Chairmant, Baltimore Jazz Alliance / 410-339-7721 mlcost33@comcast.net

 "As we enthused on the evening of your concert, both Bill and I enjoyed the evening tremendously. The music was fascinating and all your research into the history of Russia made it resonate in all kinds of ways." - Joan Davidson, Director, Vivat St. Petersburg

"Congratulations! - Your St. Petersburg Suite was sensational - There were so many elements to it - So well conceived - performed and enjoyed. The whole evening's event was memorable and inspired. Thank you for an extraordinary musical experience." – Harriet Lynn, Director, Heritage Artists Theatre

 

VIII. Available CDs 

A Glassful of Doubt / Original Solo Piano Improvisations, May 2002

Famous Lost Words / Synth and Sound Works, Volume #1

Interpredations / New Music for Piano and Other Sounds

Keyboard Mania / A collection of original solo piano improvisations, 1998-2001

Shiftsense / Synth and Sound Works, Volume #2

The Taunting World / Solo Piano Improvisations, October 2002

U…F…O… and Other Oddities / Jazz Works – Volume One