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Susan Merdinger | American Melting Pot (Live)

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Leonard Bernstein Martha Argerich Morton Gould

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Aaron Alter, Composer Elbio Barilari, Composer Facebook Page of Susan Merdinger, Pianist Ilya Levinson, Composer Morton Gould, Composer Official Website of Susan Merdinger, Pianist

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Classical: Contemporary Classical: Piano solo Moods: Solo Instrumental
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American Melting Pot (Live)

by Susan Merdinger

Steinway Artist Susan Merdinger performs live Contemporary American Piano Music. This music highlights the rich and varied legacies our immigrants have brought to this country and the cultural "Melting Pot" that makes Americans proud!
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Pieces of China: I. The Great Wall (Live)
Susan Merdinger
3:50 $0.99
2. Pieces of China: II. Fable (Live)
Susan Merdinger
2:12 $0.99
3. Pieces of China: III. China Blue (Live)
Susan Merdinger
1:30 $0.99
4. Pieces of China: IV. Puppets (Live)
Susan Merdinger
1:14 $0.99
5. Pieces of China: V. Slow Dance (Live)
Susan Merdinger
2:17 $0.99
6. Pieces of China: VI. China Chips (Live)
Susan Merdinger
3:02 $0.99
7. Ballade in F-Sharp Minor (Live)
Susan Merdinger
6:20 $1.99
8. Piano Sonata (Live)
Susan Merdinger
12:40 $1.99
9. Toccata Gaucha, Pt. I (Live)
Susan Merdinger
14:43 $1.99
10. Toccata Gaucha, Pt. II (Live)
Susan Merdinger
6:35 $0.99
11. Shtetl Scenes: I. Forgotten Dreams (Live)
Susan Merdinger, David Yonan & Christopher Ferrer
3:59 $0.99
12. Shtetl Scenes: II. Freylakh (Live)
Susan Merdinger, David Yonan & Christopher Ferrer
2:07 $0.99
13. Shtetl Scenes: III. Lullaby and Nigun (Live)
Susan Merdinger, David Yonan & Christopher Ferrer
4:29 $0.99
14. Shtetl Scenes: IV. Introspection - V. Chosidl (Live)
Susan Merdinger, David Yonan & Christopher Ferrer
5:17 $1.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
AMERICAN MELTING POT CD is Winner of Best Classical Album from the 2019 Clouzine International Music Awards, and a 2019 Gold Medal Winner of the Global Music Awards for Best Album and Instrumentalist.

"My goal performing, recording and compiling this American Melting Pot CD of my live concert performances of music by American Composers is to demonstrate not only my deep commitment to supporting the work of living composers of my own time, but also to demonstrate the rich and varied legacies of musical traditions that are embodied in composers who were both born in the USA as well as those who were immigrated to the USA and now call America "home". It is my hope that the true American spirit of welcoming immigrants and their assimilation into a large society which embraces diversity, inclusivity and the dissemination of ideas- both musical and otherwise, will be celebrated and exemplified in the works I have chosen for this compendium of American music. In these works we can hear the influences of musical styles emanating from or originating in China, Eastern and Western Europe, South America, and the USA. Indeed, American Music is a fusion and integration of musical styles as our American society is indeed a "Melting Pot"- of which I am very proud to be a part. It has been my great privilege and honor to work with each of these talented and distinguished composers!"
~Susan Merdinger, Pianist

Morton Gould, (1913-1996): Capping  a life full of achievements in all facets of music are Morton Gould's 1995 Pulitzer Prize for StringMusic, commissioned by the National Symphony for the final season of music director Mstislav Rostropovich, and his 1994 Kennedy Center Honor in recognition of lifetime contributions to American culture. Born in Richmond Hill, New York, on 10 December 1913, Gould was recognized early on as a child prodigy with the ability to improvise and compose. At the age of six he had his first composition published. He studied at the Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School), but his most important teachers were Abby Whiteside (piano) and Vincent Jones (composition). In addition to his Pulitzer Prize and Kennedy Center Honor, he was Musical America's 1994 Composer-of-the-Year. A long-time member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, Gould was elected president of ASCAP in 1986, a post he held until 1994. In 1986 he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He also served on the board of the American Symphony Orchestra League and on the National Endowment for the Arts music panel. In a handwritten letter to Susan Merdinger, dated April 22, 1990, Morton Gould wrote: "I repeat what I expressed verbally after your last New York Concert-namely - my pleasure not only of your interpretation of my work, but with the whole concert. I thought the performance of my Pieces of China (1985) was excellent - as I did the Haydn and the rest of the program.....Bravo and regards, Morton." Susan Merdinger has been an ardent performer of Gould's music including his Two Pianos (1987) and several other works. www.mortongould.com
Quote from the Westchester Gannett Westchester Newspapers: The Daily Times
Dated February 18, 1990.
Excerpt from review by Francis Brancaleone
"In Gould’s Mode:
Merdinger attacked Gould with gusto. From his 1985 suite, she selected “Fable”, “Puppets” and “China Chips”. The first piece contains a number of tone clusters (dense dissonance brought about by striking a large group of keys with the forearm), which had the predictable shock effect, while other portions of the piece gave off a kind of bluesy/jazzy feel. “Puppets” relied on stock Oriental scalar flavor and gong-like sonorities, while the third piece built to a tremendous climax in the pursuit of which Merdinger may well have challenged the record for most notes-per-second performed on a Sunday afternoon."

Fernando A. Vazquez: Mr. Vazquez comes from a long line of established musicians in Argentina. He was introduced to the piano at the age of three where he studied piano with the parents of world renowned pianist Bruno Gelber; whom along with Martha Argerich, developed his outstanding technique from world virtuoso Vicenzo Scaramuzza. He wrote his first composition at the age of seven and for the remainder of his young years continued to play and perform in several venues in Argentina and United States.  Fernando went on to pursue a degree in Piano Performance studies at Longy School of Music in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1995 along with a  degree in Ocean Engineering and Public Policy. He currently serves as a public entity advisor on global issues related to Climate Change and Sea Level Rise. In 2003, Mr. Vazquez permanently lost the use of his right hand by a neurological condition called Musician's Focal Dystonia which affects a group of muscles in high-level musicians causing involuntary muscular contractions of some fingers. Instead of loosing hope and completely abandon his musical career,  Fernando found that this same same condition had opened the opportunity to further deepen his compositional talents. "Focal Dystonia guided me to a more intimate and centered place in myself as a artist, it elevated me to realm of composition. The Ballade in F-sharp minor, composed in 2011, is a virtuosic piece chock full of musical texture and light. The harmonic idioms in the piece are meant to speak in a language that both eclectic and surreal , where glimpses of ancient musical prose meet modern chromaticisms". This performance marks Merdinger's and Vazquez's first collaboration.

Aaron Alter: Mr. Alter received his Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University where he studied piano with Frances Larimer and Gui Mombaerts and composition with Lynden DeYoung and David Noon. During that time, Aaron immersed himself in the European classical tradition as well as explored more modern European and American music. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree from Princeton University where he studied with Milton Babbitt and James K. Randall. While at Princeton, he received a fellowship from the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood Festival as well as a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts' "Meet the Composer" program. Aaron’s new music, which he refers as his “New Beginning,” is an exploration of a new style and energy that defies categorization.  His new works display influences that span the range of Medieval European music all the way to Jazz and Rock.  Aaron has won several prizes for his "new" music- including a Silver Medal in the Global Music Awards and Honorable Mention in Chamber Music from the American Prize competition, confirming that Aaron’s “New Beginning” was being well received by performers, audiences and critics alike. Aaron also serves as a board member of the Carlsbad (California) Friends of the Arts.
"My New Beginning - Part I (Sonata) is a compelling blend of musical tradition with the new.  The work was inspired by the first movement of Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata, Op. 53.  You might hear many influences in the work, from classical piano all the way to Jazz and Rock. The composition is written in a big, orchestral style and projects the full range and sound of the piano. The Piano Sonata is dedicated to Susan Merdinger who premiered this work in November 2018, as well as Solar Rays for Piano Trio in 2017." www.aaronalter.com
Elbio Barilari: Mr. Barilari was born in 1953 in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he studied at the Conservatório Universitario before continuing his education in Brazil at the Cursos Latinoamericanos de Música Contemporáne. Since settling in the United States in 1998, Barilari has lectured at the University of Chicago and the Instituto Cervantes. He is a professor of Jazz History and Latin American Music at UIC, and hosts the internationally-syndicated Latin American music radio show “Fiesta”, on WFMT 98.7 and he is Co-Director of the Chicago Latino Music Festival. Barilari is active as a classical composer and as a jazz musician. His classical pieces have been commissioned and performed by orchestras and chamber ensembles such as Grant Park Festival, Ravinia Festival, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Arts Orchestra, Avalon String Quartet, Fulcrum Point, Kaia String Quartet and many others at the national and international levels.  As a composer, Barilari has received commissions from the Grant Park Music Festival, Concertante di Chicago, Chicago Park District, and Orquesta Filarmonica de Montevideo. In addition to works for orchestra, chamber ensembles and solo instruments, he has provided scores for more than forty plays in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Mr. Barilari is the Vice-President and Artistic Director of Delmark Records in Chicago. Toccata Gaucha received its world premiere by Susan Merdinger at WFMT and subsequent performances at several festivals. It is a work that highlights the native dances of Uruguay and South America, such as the Milonga and Pericon, and is based on the characters of the native Uruguayan cowboys of the South American Pampas, known in Spanish as Gauchos. Merdinger has also premiered Barilari's Darwin's Dream Trio with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Series and his Saxon Variations for Piano for WFMT.  www.delmark.com

Ilya Levinson: Russian-born Ilya Levinson graduated from the Moscow State Conservatory, where he studied composition with Alexander Pirumov and orchestration with Edison Denisov. After immigrating to the United States in 1988, Levinson completed a Ph.D. in Composition at the University of Chicago where his training included instruction from Ralph Shapey, Shulamit Ran, John Eaton, and Howard Sandroff. Levinson is Associate Professor at the Music Department of Columbia College Chicago and Music Director of the New Budapest Orpheum Society, artists-in-residence at The University of Chicago Humanities Division, specializing in performance of Jewish Cabaret music. NBOS was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium for their album, As Dreams Fall Apart —The Golden Age Of Jewish Stage And Film Music (1925-1955). Their two previous CD’s: Dancing on the Edge of the Volcano and Jewish Cabaret in Exile are also recorded on the Cedille label. Ilya Levinson is composer-in-residence with American Music Festivals, an organization committed to promoting cultural exchange and American music. Levinson’s catalogue includes operas, musicals, symphonic and chamber music, film scores and original music for theatre productions. His music has been performed by the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Series- Tononi Ensemble, Yaroslavl Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Sarajevo Philharmonic, CUBE Ensemble, New Music Ensembles of The University of Chicago and Northwestern University, Pianissimo! Ensemble, and Duo Montagnard among others. Ilya Levinson was a winner of the 1994 Midwest Composers Competition and recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships in Music Composition in 1997 and 2003. Susan Merdinger has been a strong proponent of Levinson's works, performing and/or recording his Elegy for Violin and Piano (2011), Ghost Tango for Piano Trio (2017), Fireball for Four Pianos (2015), Broadway Medley for Classical Pianists for Four pianos (2015), and Hanukkah Medley for Two Pianos (2019).
"Forgotten Dreams: Shtetl is a small Jewish village in pre-World War II Eastern Europe.  After the Second World War the Shtetl is gone, its' population perished in gas chambers of the concentration camps.  I used to dream about Shtetl, but now I am forgetting even the dreams. Freylakh: It's a lively dance, fulI of rhythm and joy. The piece starts slowly and suddenly it's pace accelerates to a very fast tempo. Lullaby and Nigun: In a Shtetl women were raising children and doing housekeeping, the men were praying. The sounds of lullaby could be heard over Nigun, a melody that would carry the prayer to the highest realms of human spirit. Sometimes they would clash, sometimes they would answer each other..... Introspection: Do I do enough to be a righteous person? What's in my soul? Is the God listening to me or not? Am I lost? These are the questions every Jew asks constantly. Chosidl: It's a slow dance full of energy; it's steady rhythm entrances you. The opening phrase of Forgotten Dreams returns at the end of the dance". www.ilyalevinsonmusic.com
Steinway Artist, Susan Merdinger has been internationally acclaimed in prestigious newspapers and journals for her stunning performances, particularly noted for her recordings of Schumann, Brahms, and Beethoven. Among her many honors, Merdinger is a two-time First Prize Winner of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition in Professional Solo and Duo Piano, two-time Gold Medalist of the Global Music Awards, Winner of the Dewar’s Young Artists Award in Music, Winner of the Artists International Young Musicians Competition, Winner of Best Classical Album in the Clouzine International Music Awards and 2nd Prize Winner in the American Prize for Chamber Music. Performing her sold-out solo recital debut in Carnegie Recital Hall at age twenty-four, Merdinger has continued to grace the stages of some of the world’s best concert halls. She has appeared as soloist with professional orchestras such as the Chicago Philharmonic, the State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico and the Northbrook Symphony and has been a frequent Visiting Artist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Series. Merdinger’s live performances and recordings have been broadcast worldwide on WQXR, WFMT, BRT-3 (Belgian National Radio), NPR and BBC Television. Merdinger received her formal education at Yale University, the Yale School of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music. Merdinger is Founder and Artistic Director of Sheridan Music Studio LLC and Artist Faculty of Summit Music Festival in New York.  www.susanmerdingerpianist.com

David Yonan, violin: Internationally acclaimed concert violinist David Yonan gave his Carnegie Hall Debut in 2015 as 1st Prize winner of the International Alexander & Buono String Competition New York. A three-time Global Music Award winner in 2015, Yonan was born in Berlin, and quickly recognized as an artist of extraordinary ability after winning the Berlin Youth Competition at age ten. He gave his recital debuts in Berlin, Moscow and St. Petersburg at age eleven. A year later, he debuted in the Berlin Philharmonic Hall as a soloist with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and was invited the following year by conductor Gerd Albrecht to perform at the “Violinists of the 21st Century”concert at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, which was televised globally by Deutsche Welle TV. The Berliner Morgenpost wrote, “Yonan is a name to memorize for the future”. Since then David Yonan has toured as a soloist throughout the United States, Europe and South America with major orchestras in prestigious concert halls around the globe. www.davidyonan.com

Christopher Ferrer, cello: is a member of Lakeshore Rush and teaches at the New Music School. He performs with Camerata Chicago and has been a featured chamber musician on WFMT. From 2013-2014 he worked as principal cellist for the West Side Story North American Tour. Christopher attended the Royal College of Music in London and Northern Illinois University. While in high school, he was a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Encore Chamber Orchestra. Christopher studied cello with Ann Griffin, John Sharp, Sasha Boyarsky, and Cheng-Hou Lee. He has had the opportunity to perform in masterclasses and participate in coachings with Julian Jacobson, Janet Hilton, Lewis Kaplan, and Warren Jones.



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