Cat Toren is an award winning pianist, improviser and composer residing in Brooklyn, New York. Described as “vibrant, earthy and spiritual” (UK Vibe), Cat “uses bold atmospheric abstraction and fluid melodies to mix deep human warmth with creative fire” (Coastal Jazz and Blues).
Cat Toren holds a Masters in Music Composition from the New York State University at Purchase College and an undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies from Capilano College in North Vancouver, BC, her hometown. She has studied piano with highly respected pianists such as Andy LaVerne and Sophia Rosoff and composition with Dr. Lisa Miller, and Pulitzer Prize winner and nominee Du Yun and Laura Kaminsky. In addition, Cat is passionate about sound therapy; she holds a Sound Healing Training Certificate from the Sage Academy in Woodstock, NY.
On January 21, 2017 (the day of the Women’s March on Washington) Cat released her fourth album featuring a new project entitled Cat Toren’s HUMAN KIND. It has currently sold copies in over seven countries, receiving critically acclaimed reviews such as “A powerful recording” – Bandcamp Daily (The Best New Jazz on Bandcamp) and “Cat Toren should be a household name. Incredible music for 2017” – UK Vibe. The group has toured the Mid-West, New York area and Western Canada to sold out venues promoting the album and its message. The music is influenced by the free-form, socially conscious jazz of the late ’60s as well as today’s resurgent civil rights movement. Jazz, being both music of expression and of the people, has a legacy of standing up for civil rights issues. Keeping with this tradition, proceeds of the album are donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Career accolades include a JUNO Award for Best Instrumental Album of the Year 2013, JUNO Nomination for Best Instrumental Album of the Year 2016, Western Canadian Music Award 2016, and Galaxy Rising Star Award 2010 all with the co-led ensemble Pugs and Crows. Other accolades include numerous grants to fund projects such as a commission to write for a nine piece new music ensemble, Orkestra Futura, in 2014. Noteworthy performances include the JUNO Awards Showcase in Regina and Ottawa, Cornelia Street Cafe’s Piano Festival 2015, Montreal Jazz Festival and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The 2017 Vancouver International Jazz Festival in conjunction with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation asked Cat to be an artist speaker at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Colloquium 2017. The annual topic was Lines of Flight: Improvisation, Hope and Refuge. Cat gave a presentation and lecture entitled Cat Toren’s HUMAN KIND: Music for Empathic Activism and is currently preparing this lecture for print form.