Faculty Profile

Andy Costello

NMS Piano Faculty

Described as “completely unique on the Montreal scene and perhaps the world over” (Innovations en Concert), and “blazing a truly unique path for himself” (PianoForte Chicago), pianist Andy Costello has established himself as a musician of versatility, creativity, originality and imagination.

As a concert pianist, Andy has appeared in recent years at the PianoForte Salon Series (Chicago), Innovations en Concert (Montreal), Experimental Sound Studio (Chicago), Equilibrium Concert Series (Boston), Acoustic Uproar (Boston), Omaha Under the Radar (Omaha, NE), Institute for the Public Life in the Arts and Ideas (Montreal), the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music, Media and Technology (Montreal), Fifth Floor Collective (Boston), Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur (Montreal) and colleges and universities including University of Toronto, University of Calgary, Carleton University, DePaul University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Conservatoire de musique de Montréal.

A sought after chamber musician, Andy has performed with and with members of major ensembles and orchestras across North America – Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Missouri, Toronto and Montréal Symphony Orchestras, International Contemporary Ensemble (I.C.E.), Ensemble Dal Niente, and [sound icon].

Deeply committed to education, Andy served as a visiting artist at The Boston Conservatory for the 2013-2014 academic year; He has previously been guest artist at Time Forms (2014), Laboratoire de Musique Contemporaine de Montréal (2013), Columbia College Chicago (2012-2013), and Scotia Chamber Music Festival (2011).  He regularly visits pre-collegiate institutions as a masterclass technician, chamber coach, and workshop leader.  Andy is currently on the piano faculty at New Music School in Chicago.

Also a gifted collaborative pianist, Andy has previously held the post of vocal and instrumental staff accompanist at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and staff accompanist at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University.  He currently leads an active schedule accompanying Opera, Lied, Dramatic Theatre, and Choral, at organizations such as TUTA Theatre Company, Northbrook Theatre of Performing Arts, First Unitarian Church of Evanston, the Vocal Department of North Park University, as well as at various conservatory vocal and instrumental performance programs in the Chicagoland area.

Dedicated to the music of living composers, Andy has worked personally with hundreds of composers from all over the world.  His solo repertoire champions works by living composers Philippe Leroux, Frederic Rzewski, Jerome Kitzke, Serge Provost, Christopher Harman, John Rea, Andy Vores, Keeril Makan, Marti Epstein, Sebastian Huydts, Anthony Cheung, Jimmie Leblanc, James O’Callaghan, Keith Kusterer, Paul Pinto, David Reminick, Kota Nakamura, Daniel Larraín Vial, Ana Paola Santillán Alcocer, Thomas Carr, and Duncan Schouten. “Andy trouve la profondeur dans chaque note” (“Andy finds depth in every note”), composer Philippe Leroux has stated of Andy’s playing.

With dedication to music of living composers, Andy is equally committed to presenting standard piano repertoire in a fresh way.  Andy will release his solo debut album, pairing preludes of J.S. Bach with fugues of Dmitri Shostakovitch, and vice versa, to be released with Blue Griffin Records in Spring 2016.  Andy’s interpretation of Schumann has been described as “dreamy and sensitive”, and in Shostakovitch, “steely and granitic,” concluding, “…a modernist sampler, intriguing but undemanding, presented by a thoughtful and adventurous artist.” (Boston Musical Intelligencer).

A hallmark of Andy’s repertoire includes music for speaking pianist – solo piano music that incorporates the delivery of text from the pianist in tandem with playing the piano.  This idiom encompasses popular song and cabaret, to avant-garde contemporary classical. On recent speaking pianist performances, Andy has been described as (Atuvu.ca) “…à la fois humoristiques et engagés. Il a su captiver mon attention jusqu’à la toute fin,” (“…funny and engaging at the same time.  He captivated my attention all the way to the very end.”), and “…with a charming, natural ease, and an aura that easily transitioned between concert pianist and lounge singer… a truly enjoyable and moving performance, with a rarely paralleled intelligence in programming.” (Marina Kifferstein, colleague/friend).

As a composer himself, Andy’s music has been described as “inventive color” and “comic but faintly chilling” (Chicago Classical Review). His music has been performed by Ensemble Dal Niente, International Contemporary Ensemble (I.C.E.), ThingNY, Palomar, violinist Marina Kifferstein, percussionist Ben Reimer, soprano Sarah Albu and keyboardists Francis Yun, Elena Doubovitskaya, Sebastian Huydts and Sandra Wright Shen.  His music often deals with theatrical humor, and use of the body and voice.  His music has been heard in Canadian cities such as Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax and Montreal, and the major American cities of Chicago, Boston, and New York.

As an organizer, Andy he founded the Montreal-based Vox Humana chamber collective of speaking musicians in 2011; and in 2014, Andy founded the Morton Feldman Chamber Players (MFCP), a non-profit organization devoted to programming the solo and chamber works of Morton Feldman in the United States and Canada.  MFCP is partnered with the Experimental Sound Studio and Iarca Gallery in Chicago for the 2014-15 season.

Andy holds a B.M., summa cum laude, from Columbia College, and an M.Mus from McGill University’s Schulich School of Music, under Sebastian Huydts and Sara Laimon, respectively.


“My teaching philosophy is a complex convergence of opinions and

schools of thought that, ultimately, can be embodied rather

succinctly: Music is not easy.  There is no easy fix for anything –

there is no short cut to the finish line.  Each musician is unique,

and must find equally unique solutions for him or herself.  My work as

a pedagogue aims to equip my students with a passion for autonomous

problem-solving, so that my students’ personal challenges and

solutions can guide them long after I am gone. The key to learning

the piano is sobering self-assessment, followed by driven, focused

work, fueled by inspired, creative thinking, and resulting in

overwhelming joy and wonder.  Virtually everything I impart to a

student, from technique to expressivity, from fundamental musicianship

to artistic philosophy, is a variation on this underlying notion.” -AC