George Gershwin had his “American in Paris”, and now, nearly one hundred years later, award winning composer, producer and pianist Calvin Jones is our American in Ukraine – Kiev, specifically.

How did someone born in South Dakota land in Ukraine?

Before traveling overseas, let’s stay in South Dakota and talk “Chopsticks,” the classic tune that all piano students, and especially non-piano students, bang out if there’s a piano in the house.

It’s 2010; Calvin had reimagined that universal piano classic. His arrangement became popular in recitals and competitions. Serendipitously, he was contacted by the Miss America organization on behalf of Teresa Scanlan, Miss Nebraska, who had been winning local pageants since age 13 performing Calvin’s “Whitewater Chopped Sticks.” Teresa asked Calvin to mentor her and edit the full version to the 90 seconds allowed in pageants. Six weeks later she performed it before a worldwide audience during the talent portion of the Miss America Pageant. Her blazing performance propelled her to win the Miss America 2011 Pageant, at 17, the youngest person to win the title of Miss America in 90 years.

Soon after, Calvin was invited to work with movie producer Gerald Molen (“Schindler’s List”, “Jurassic Park”). While writing the score to the movie 2016, (which at $33 million became the second highest grossing documentary in America), the film’s director thought it would be fitting to record it with an orchestra. Calvin recalled hearing a Ukrainian orchestra and choir perform in his home town, and before he knew it, Calvin found himself flying halfway across the world, little knowing his future life would be so closely intertwined with Ukraine. His music resonated with Kiev musicians and music lovers, and soon, he began receiving invitations to perform with Ukrainian orchestras.

Embracing the rich musical life and beauty of Ukraine, he made his second home in downtown Kiev, steps away from a botanical garden. On a beautiful Indian summer day, leaves were turning a brilliant gold, inspiring a walk through that garden. Lost in the beauty of the moment, he was jolted back to the present when a woman came into view. Her face radiated kindness; her inward beauty and approachability emanated clearly. After a brief encounter, they went their separate ways. 10 minutes later they ran into each other again. A sign from God?

Calvin and Inga spent the rest of that day together, walking through the city, where she introduced him to the cathedrals and architectural wonders of Kiev. He in turn, introduced her to his music. It was love, both musical and personal. They are now married.

Calvin continues to compose, perform and record his music worldwide. His latest recording, Paramount: The Symphony Sessions, brings together musicians from several Eastern European nations, where the governmental relationships are contentious and strained, but the musical ties are invincible. Paramount unites his American classical music roots with romantic and rustic Ukrainian tapestries.

History and Discography (click here)