NDNU’s Ralston Performers Series Continues with “Piano Fantastique,” January 25

Belmont, CA, January 15, 2009 — NDNU’s Ralston Performers Series begins the year with a rousing piano concert as the University’s director of Piano Studies showcases his award-winning talents in “Piano Fantastique: Michael Schmitz in Concert” at 3 p.m., January 25 in the Ralston Hall Mansion Ballroom.

The concert series is a showcase for NDNU’s professional Music and Vocal Artsfaculty, and special guest artists. Spring 2009 highlights works for piano solo and classic German lieder. Dr. Schmitz’s program will include Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, Beethoven’s Sonata in A flat Opus 110, Chopin’s Mazurkas and Ballades in G Minor and F Minor, and Preludes by Rachmaninoff. A reception in the formal dining room will follow the concert.

Renowned as a performer and pedagogue in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dr. Schmitz gives frequent recitals and master classes throughout the Peninsula. He has also won numerous competitions in the Southwest, and performed as a soloist with the Master Sinfonia Orchestra, the University of Arizona Orchestra, Catalina Chamber Orchestra, and Orchestra Nova. His performances have been broadcast live in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Mexico.

Dr. Schmitz looks forward to performing the works of his favorite composers in the acoustic Ralston Hall Mansion Ballroom. “Beethoven has always been one my favorite composers,” he said.  “I especially enjoy his late sonatas, like the Opus 110, because they show such maturity. In early Beethoven works, you hear him grappling with fate, but his late sonatas seem to demonstrate an understanding of his life and his sufferings. He combines religious elements, like fugues, with both solemn and playful aspects. I find it very moving; like the last words of a grandfather to his grandchildren.

“The Chopin Ballade No. 4 in F Minor has also been one of my favorite works in the piano repertoire,” Dr. Schmitz added. “This is the first time I’ve programmed it, so I am really excited to play it.”

He has developed an exceptional studio of award winning piano students who have performed with major orchestras, and have been accepted to top music conservatories. Dr. Schmitz is in frequent demand as an adjudicator at prestigious national and international competitions.

He received both Bachelor and Master degrees in music from then College of Notre Dame, working with Thomas LaRatta. He then earned his Doctor of Music Arts degree from University of Arizona, where he studied with Ozan Marsh and Paula Fan. His dissertation revealed Asian influences in the piano music of Claude Debussy.

Tickets for the “Ralston Performers Series” cost $20 general admission, $10 students and seniors. The Ralston Hall Mansion is located on the University campus at 1500 Ralston Avenue in Belmont. For more information, call NDNU’s Department of Music and Vocal Arts Box Office at (650) 508-3729 or concerts@ndnu.edu.