The Music of Schumann will be performed on Sept. 8

The Music of Schumann
a faculty recital featuring pianists Gabriel Dobner, Lori Piitz, Paulo Steinberg, Eric Ruple, and Kevin McMillan (baritone)

Thursday, September 8 @ 8 p.m., Concert Hall

Experience the brilliance of Robert Schumann in this concert featuring Toccata, Op.7, Papillons, Op. 2, Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, and Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (with poetry by Heinrich Heine) Four members of JMU’s esteemed piano faculty are joined by Kevin McMillan in this extraordinary evening to kick off the Forbes Center fall season.

Robert Schumann

Although he went on later in life to write some of the greatest vocal, chamber, and symphonic works, young Robert Schumann (1810–l56) devoted himself exclusively to the piano. He was fortunate to have a father who recognized and fostered his precocious talent. Each of Schumann’s first thirty published compositions is for solo piano, including the selections featured in the recital. Acclaimed pianist Wilhelm Kempff regards these early pieces as ”the most significant works Schumann ever wrote.“ This is not to say that the music of the 1830s was always successful or that it came easily from his pen. Many unpublished efforts reveal a composer struggling to find his voice and give a particular motive its ideal musical setting.

As a teenager Schumann also revealed the literary aspirations that one might have expected from a bookseller’s son. Upon his father’s death, however, he was steered toward a practical profession (law) at the universities of Leipzig and Heidelberg. In truth, Schumann spent more time socializing with poets and composers, learning more about love than law. He maintained the façade of being a diligent scholar for nearly ten years before openly pursuing his musical ambitions. Schumann was understandably drawn by the allure of the touring virtuoso. Ironically, he ruined his own chances for such a career by overstraining his right hand (he used a contraption to strengthen the naturally weak fourth finger), turning instead to composition and criticism. We are certainly the richer thereby, for like Moscheles, Paganini, or Thalberg, Schumann likely never would have found time or inclination to pen the mature essays and compositions that he eventually did.

Gabriel Dobner has appeared with some of Europe’s leading singers in the major concert venues of Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Zürich, Vienna, Tokyo and Nagoya. He has recorded for both the Ottavo and MDG labels, winning high praise from BBC Music Magazine, Fono Forum and the West German Radio in Cologne, who referred to him as a “master among Lieder pianists.” He has also done numerous radio recordings in the U.S., Germany and Japan.

Lori Piitz enjoys a performance career that includes solo, four–hand and chamber music. She has performed in numerous festivals and venues, including the Festival of the Sound in Canada, the Schubert Club in Minneapolis, Lincoln Center and Steinway Hall in New York City, and the Schleswig–Holstein Festival in Germany. Ms. Piitz received her doctorate from Indiana University where she studied with Menahem Pressler.

Dr. Eric Ruple, on the music faculty at JMU since 1987, is on the roster of international concert pianists of Steinway & Sons; he enjoys an active career as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. Concerts in the USA have included several performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Steinway Hall in New York.

Paulo Steinberg has performed as a soloist and as a collaborative pianist in Brazil, the United States, Canada, Iceland and Sweden. His upcoming and recent projects include a CD recording, performances and master classes in Brazil. He also founded a piano festival in Brazil, which takes place every summer, offering piano lessons and master classes to adults, young artists and children. Steinberg’s studies and interests include piano technique, Brazilian and Romantic music.

Kevin McMillan has been described as an “outstanding Schubertian” whose “voice of glowing freshness and beauty is at the service of an intelligent, lively and distinctive personality.” His performing career has spanned over 25 years with more than 750 concerts, 15 professional recordings, a Grammy award, a Gramophone award and numerous Juno award nominations. He has made appearances with virtually every major North American orchestra and has also established a presence in Europe.

Ticket prices: $8–$10 Advance tickets can be purchased online, by phone or in person at the box office (Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. or 1½ hours prior to performance). Major credit cards, cash, checks and JACards accepted. Day of performance tickets will be sold beginning at 5 p.m. at JMU’s Convocation Center Box Office Entrance D. Major credits cards, cash, checks and JACards accepted.
JMU student tickets: $4 in person at Forbes Center Box Office only with student ID. One ticket per ID. Student tickets are not available online.

Mailing Tickets/Will Call — Tickets that are ordered more than two weeks in advance of a performance will be mailed to the address on file. Ticket orders received less than two weeks prior to a performance will be held for pickup at the Will Call window. Buy Single Tickets

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