Performing Artist, Collaborator, Educator, Interdisciplinary Researcher, Producer, Thinker
Welcome to the website of Dion Cunningham! With a unique artistic voice and a bold, imaginative exploration of the sonic world, Dion strives to help inspire the transformation of humankind through inventive presentations of traditional and contemporary art forms.
Born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas to parents, Deanza and Edris Cunningham, Dion Cunningham began his musical studies studying piano with Mrs. Dawn Sands. After high school, Dion attended Macalester College (St. Paul, MN) where he received both Biology and Music degrees studying piano with Mr. Don Betts. In 2013, Dion graduated from the prestigious Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Music in Piano studying with Marian Hahn. For his outstanding musical achievement, he was awarded the Frances W. Wentz Turner Memorial Prize. In 2019, Dion graduated from the University of Maryland with a Doctor of Musical Arts studying with Cleveland Page and Rita Sloan.
In 2015, Dion was recognized nationally when was awarded 2nd prize in the American Protege International Piano and Strings competition as well as 3rd prize in the American Prize Solo Piano competition. As a result of his success, he made his debut in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in November of that year. Dion has maintained an active career as a soloist and collaborator which has taken him to North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe. His participation in festivals include Art of Piano (Cincinnati, OH), Crescendo Music Festival (Hungary), Interharmony Music Festival (Italy) and Virtuosi e Bel Canto Festival (Italy). On the occasion of the Bahamas’s 40th Anniversary of Independence, Dion was asked to present a solo recital at the request of the Governor General. Dion has also given performances at the bequest of the LINKS foundation of Maryland and has served as pianist for the world premiere of the opera “Qadar,” commissioned by the Smithsonian, at the Kennedy Center and Strathmore (Washington, DC).
Dion has also collaborated in chamber recitals throughout the East and Midwest United States as well as Canada. In 2016, Dion debuted his edutainment series “Adventures in The Arts,” which has, to date, been presented to over 800 students in the Bahamas and United States. Other recent engagements included recitals with mezzo-soprano Bri Cooper on the occasion of the Bahamas 43rd Anniversary of Independence (Washington, DC), a concert tour debuting new works for Trumpet and Piano featuring Dr. Josh Ganger, collaborations with Netherlander Soprano, Dr. Nicole Jordan and a solo recital in Richmond, VA.
Dion’s experience as an educator is also significant. He obtained hisDiploma in Ed. from the College of the Bahamas and M.M. Ed from Vandercook College (Chicago, IL), and has taught from the preschool through tertiary levels for 12 years in the Bahamas and the United States. Service activities remain close to Dion’s heart and such pursuits have given him the opportunity to work alongside musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the OrchKids program and the East Lake Expression Engine (Chattanooga, TN), where they provided music instruction for inner city students. In partnership with the Bel Canto Singers (Nassau, Bahamas), Dion has had the opportunity to bring colleagues from the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Maryland to the Bahamas to do benefit concerts and workshops with Bahamian students for the past 8 years.
It is Dion’s hope to use his career as a performer and educator to inspire those from non-traditional backgrounds to pursue careers in music. He believes that music has immense power to bring about the positive change we need in our communities by promoting mutual understanding of the things that connect us as human beings.
"To engage in the solitude of daily practice is to come face to face with myself - my greatest strengths and deepest flaws. It’s me and my thoughts, my creativity, my body, my technique and my instrument. Few pursuits offer the opportunity to develop one’s intrapersonal relationship so completely. I am grateful for the opportunity to know myself intimately through this mode of self-exploration and to share these discoveries with audiences."