LSU Boyd Professor of Keyboard Studies & Professor of Jazz Studies
328 School of Music
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-2504
In a performing career spanning over four decades, pianist Willis Delony has won acclaim as one of the nation’s leading classical/jazz crossover artists. His innovative concert explorations of the two musical worlds are showcased in a series of solo piano recordings on the Centaur label. A New World A' Comin' – Classical and Jazz Connections was released in 2001. Double Dance – Classical and Jazz Connections II was released in 2008. Out of Character – Classical and Jazz Connections III, was released in October 2014. His most recent recording is an independent release entitled Butterfly Room – Connections for Solo Piano. Previous album credits include a recording of sonatas by Samuel Barber and Sergei Prokofiev, also on the Centaur label, and a jazz album entitled Civilized Conversations, featuring Delony and bassist Bill Grimes. He collaborated with bassoonist William Ludwig on the Mark Records release, Rhapsody in Bassoon, which features the world premiere recording of André Previn’s Sonata for Bassoon and Piano. His most recent recorded collaboration is with LSU colleague, oboist Johanna Cox Pennington, on her new album Orion Nocturne, released by Albany Records.
Delony has appeared as piano soloist, guest pianist/arranger or conductor with orchestras throughout the United States as well as orchestras in Canada, the former Soviet Union and China. As a solo and collaborative recitalist, he has performed classical and jazz concerts throughout the U.S. – including a solo recital at Carnegie Hall (October, 2014) – as well as France, Germany, the former Soviet Union, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Argentina. He has performed with many of the nation’s leading jazz artists and is co-host/pianist for Louisiana State University’s popular concert series Hot Summer Nights – Cool Jazz. His pops orchestra arrangements have been performed throughout the U.S. and Canada, including over 50 scores written for the Minneapolis-based jazz vocal quintet Five By Design, with whom he has recorded two albums. He has worked for many years with Baton Rouge producer/sound engineer Joey Decker of Disk Productions, co-creating dozens of award-winning commercial soundtracks for clients nationwide. He collaborates regularly with leading contemporary composers, having recently premiered the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by Stephen Dankner with the LSU Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded and performed solo piano works by Paris-based American composer Joseph Makholm, as well as solo piano works by jazz composer Les Hooper. In January 2017, he premiered Greg Yasinitsky’s Jazz Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. In part due to the strength of this performance, the work was awarded The American Prize in composition. In October of 2017, Delony was the featured performer and clinician for the North Carolina Music Teachers Association annual convention, and recently returned from Paris where he presented a lecture/recital on the music of Bill Evans at the IMEP Paris College of Music as well as a solo recital at the Bill Evans Piano Academy.
Delony is the Boyd Professor of Piano and Jazz Studies in the School of Music at Louisiana State University, where he has been a member of the music faculty since 2000. From 1986-2000 he served on the music faculty at Southeastern Louisiana University and is a former member of the music faculty at Delta State University. He is a past recipient of an Artist Fellowship awarded by the Louisiana Division of the Arts, as well as the Edith Kirkpatrick Arts Leadership Award given by the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. He is also a recent recipient of the LSU Distinguished Faculty Award. Delony was a longtime student of the late Jack Guerry at Louisiana State University, and also studied with pianist Ann Schein at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.