Among the tenants displaced by a fire at a New Jersey apartment building is pianist Terrence Wilson, who got some of early concert gigs with the Baltimore Symphony.

Terrence Wilson, a dynamic, affable pianist who has performed several times with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since the mid-1990s, was among tenants displaced by a three-alarm fire Saturday night at an apartment building in Montclair, NJ.

The fire broke out on the second floor and quickly spread, reaching Wilson's apartment directly above on the fourth floor, where his piano and music scores, not to mention all his other personal belongings, were housed.


Wilson left the building around 6 p.m. Saturday to walk to a restaurant for some take-away. Returning about 45 minutes later, he smelled smoke and spotted fire trucks.

"I saw the fire in the windows of my living room," he said.

The pianist has been allowed to return briefly to his apartment.

"It didn't look good at all," he said. "Where there wasn't soot and broken glass, there was water. It's pretty devastating. In the next couple of days I'll have a chance to go back and make a more accurate assessment. I did not have renter's insurance, regrettably. I discontinued it a couple years ago, when I had to cut some expenses."

Baltimore audiences got to experience Wilson's talents early in his career. He was featured on the BSO's former "Live, Gifted and Black" series when he was 18 in 1994, playing a Liszt concerto, and the next year performing Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini."

The New York-born pianist participated in some of the orchestra's Martin Luther King tribute concerts, including one in 2002 that showcased his account of Ravel's Piano Concerto.

In 2001, Wilson was soloist in Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 on a BSO subscription program led by Daniel Hege. He performed Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" with then music director Yuri Temirkanov in 2005, the  same year the pianist joined Temirkanov and the BSO for a concert tour of Spain.

The BSO was not Wilson's only connection to Baltimore. He and other members of the excellent Ritz Chamber Players were presented by the Shriver Hall Concert Series in a memorable program in 2008.

The pianist's career highlights include being soloist in the 2011 Grammy-winning recording of Michael Daugherty's "Deus ex Machina."

"This had been one of my best summers in a long time," Wilson said. "I played with the Philadelphia Orchestra in June and the Independence Day concert at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. And then this happened. It has completely changed my whole life."

Offers to help Wilson with temporary housing have been made by friends and colleagues, including those in Baltimore, among them Hopkins Symphony music director Jed Gaylin, who is scheduled to conduct a concert featuring the pianist this weekend with the Bay Atlantic Symphony in Atlantic City.

"I am so blessed with so many friends who have opened up their homes to me, even some with pianos, so I can practice," Wilson said. "The outpouring of support has been really overwhelming. I think I've cried more from that, from having my heart filled with gratitude, than from the fire."