James Madison University School of Music

Piano Faculty

PATRICIA BRADY, Professor Emeritus, part-time

B.M., B.A, Rhodes College; M.M. University of Memphis;
D.M., Indiana University.

As a graduate of Indiana University, Dr. Brady’s major teachers included James Tocco, Sidney Foster, and Daniel Fletcher. In addition to teaching graduate piano pedagogy at JMU, Dr. Brady coordinates the Keyboard Skills Area, supervising graduate instructors who provide instruction in piano to music majors.

Dr. Brady has performed solo and chamber music recitals in the U.S. and in Europe, and has conducted lectures and workshops on a variety of piano related topics. Research and study of Rachmaninoff’s Etudes-Tableaux resulted in a doctoral dissertation and performances of these important works. Another area of research has focused on visual associations (color, light, atmosphere) in piano works from the late 19th century to the present. This endeavor led to lecture-recitals featuring the piano music of Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Griffes, Bartok, Prokofiev, and George Crumb. In 2000-2003, Dr. Brady received university research grants which led to performances of piano and chamber works of the French composer, Albert Roussel. These works were featured in recitals performed in the U.S., France, Belgium and Portugal.

In the area of pedagogy, Dr. Brady has pioneered strategies for incorporating composition and collaborative performance into pre-college piano study, and has included composition as part of a regular regimen of music study for young pianists.  In addition to teaching activities at JMU, Dr. Brady maintains a private piano studio and is active in Virginia and nearby states as a clinician, adjudicator, and coordinator for theory testing and performance auditions.

Email: bradypl@jmu.edu
Office: 540.568.6648

GABRIEL DOBNER, Professor; Coordinator of the Piano Area

Pianist Gabriel Dobner first appeared in concert in Europe in 1991 as part of a chamber music festival with various members of the Villa Musica Chamber Music Ensemble based in Mainz, Germany. 1993 marked the beginning of his eight years in Germany, after having been awarded a German Academic Exchange Scholarship (DAAD) to study lied accompanying in Munich with Professor Helmut Deutsch. The following year he won the special accompanist prize in the International Hans Pfitzner Lieder Competition in Munich.

While living in Augsburg, Mr. Dobner quickly established himself as one of Germany’s most sought after collaborative pianists performing regularly with such singers as Cornelia Kallisch, René Kollo, Kevin McMillan, John Wesley Wright, Alan Bennett, Alexandra Petersamer, Uta Buchheister, as well as instrumentalists Allan Vogel (principle oboe of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra), Ulf Rodenhäuser (former principle clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic), Paul Ellison (former principle double bass of the Houston Symphony Orchestra) and Patrick Sheridan (Tuba). These collaborations led to performances in many of the major concert venues in Europe, including Munich, Dresden, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Cologne, Vienna and Zürich. He has also performed in the United States, Canada, Japan and Spain.

Gabriel Dobner has recorded for both the Ottavo and MDG labels. His first recording for MDG, consisting of songs of Liszt, Dvorák and Mahler with Cornelia Kallisch, won 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”. In addition to CD recordings, he has recorded for the Bayrischer Rundfunk, Südwestfunk, Westdeutscher Rundfunk
Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, Chubo-Nippon Broadcasting Company in Japan and
Saint Paul Sunday.

Gabriel Dobner received his Bachelors Degree in piano performance from Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University, where he studied with Ludmila Lazar. He then went on to Indiana University in Bloomington to earn his Masters Degree with James Tocco, as well as his Doctoral Degree with Leonard Hokanson, eventually becoming Prof. Hokanson’s teaching assistant.

Gabriel Dobner joined the faculty at James Madison University in the fall of 2001. Previous teaching engagements include Indiana University and the Nürnberg/Augsburg Hochschule für Musik in Germany .

Email: dobnergt@jmu.edu
Office: 540.568.6002

ROBERT HALLAHAN, Assistant Professor

Since beginning his career as a jazz pianist in 1975,
Bob Hallahan has been heard across the U.S. and around the world, in concerts, nightclubs and jazz festivals from East Coast to West and as far as Beijing, China, where he toured as part of a cultural exchange sponsored by United Airlines. He has appeared as a featured solo pianist at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and as a sideman with jazz luminaries such as saxophonists Joe Henderson, James Moody, Lou Donaldson, Arthur Blythe, Clifford Jordan and Bud Shank, trumpeters Clark Terry, Freddie Hubbard and Byron Stripling, trombonists Conrad Herwig and Wycliffe Gordon, guitarist Pat Metheny and singers Anita O’Day, Sheila Jordan, and René Marie.  Other festival and club appearances include the East Coast Jazz Festival, Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., Zinno and the Jazz Standard in New York, The Deer’s Head Inn in Pennsylvania, Nardis in Istanbul, Turkey and Le Club in Moscow, Russia. 

Since 1997 Bob has been the pianist with Robert Jospé and Inner Rhythm, and can be heard on the band’s five recordings to date: Blue Blaze, Time to Play, Hands On, Heartbeat and Inner Rhythm, Live!  Other recordings include I Thought about You with saxophonist Fred Haas, and The Street Where You Live with guitarist Adam Larrabee. Jazz writer Joel Siegel of Washington D.C.’s City Paper and Jazz Times magazine described Bob as a “ … thoughtful, lyrical pianist (who) can swing hard when required…”, and Owen Cordle of The Raleigh News and Observer found his playing “… reminiscent of Oscar Peterson at his most swinging…”.  He has appeared on nearly two dozen recordings as both a sideman and leader.  His latest recording, Here with the Bob Hallahan Trio was released in September, 2014 on the 32 Bar label.
An experienced jazz educator, Bob joined the faculty of James Madison University’s School of Music in Harrisonburg, VA in 2010, where he is teaching applied jazz study, jazz theory and jazz improvisation in the new jazz major curriculum.  He was on the Jazz Studies Program faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1981 to 2010 teaching applied jazz piano, jazz keyboard class, small jazz ensembles, jazz history and jazz appreciation, and regularly performing in schools and communities around the Commonwealth with the VCU Jazz Masters faculty quintet.  Bob also taught jazz piano at the University of Virginia from 1988 to 2010.  While there, he was a co-founder and played in the highly acclaimed Free Bridge Quintet  from 1998 to 2010.  In 1990, Bob took a one-semester leave of absence from VCU and UVA to assume the post of artist-in-residence at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.  He also teaches every summer at Interplay Jazz Camp in Vermont, and was on the faculty of Izmir International Jazz Camp in Turkey in 2012 and 2013. 

Email: hallahrf@jmu.edu
Office: 540.568.5278

LORI PIITZ, Associate Professor

D.M., M.M., Indiana University; BMus, University of Ottawa (Canada); A.R.C.T., Royal Conservatory of Music, University of Toronto. Piano professors with whom Ms. Piitz has studied include Menahem Pressler, Leonard Hokanson, Jean-Paul Sevilla and Helgi Fatovic.

Canadian pianist, Lori Piitz, has lived, performed and taught in both North America and Europe. Prior to moving to Virginia, Ms. Piitz lived in Germany for 9 years where she participated in recitals for the Wagner Society and the New Music Association of Germany, as well as at the International Flute Congress in Frankfurt. A frequent soloist with the Neusäss Chamber Orchestra, she also presented a cycle of Beethoven works for cello and piano, with Professor Helga Winold, in Munich and Augsburg. Ms. Piitz has been a guest at the Festival of the Sound in Canada, the Schleswig-Holstein and Villa Musica Festivals in Germany, and at the Mozart Bicentennial Series in Avery Fisher Hall, New York. She and her duet partner, Gabriel Dobner, have performed in Canada, Europe and the United States, including the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. In 2006 they returned to Germany to present recitals commemorating the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.

Ms. Piitz holds a Bachelors degree in piano performance from the University of Ottawa where she was awarded the prestigious 'Isobel Firestone' performance scholarship. She received two full scholarships to the Banff Center of Fine Arts where she worked with Martin Isepp and Marek Jablonski. Ms. Piitz has been heard on both the French and English networks of CBC Radio, both as a soloist and chamber musician. She has been a winner in the Canadian Music Competitions (CMC) and was a finalist in CBC television's “Virtuoses en Herbe” Competition.

Since joining the piano faculty of James Madison University in 2002, Ms. Piitz has participated in the Contemporary Music Festival at JMU, the Bach Festival at EMU, the Richmond Chamber Music Festival and the Staunton Music Festival. Previous teaching engagements include the University of Ottawa, Indiana University, Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg and the Augsburg/Nürnberg Hochschule für Musik.

Email: piitzle@jmu.edu
Office: 540.568.6646

ERIC RUPLE, Professor | Steinway Artist

Eric Ruple enjoys an active career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. He has performed several times at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.: including a solo concert of the music of Beethoven in 2007. He has been a pianist for the Virginia Symphony and Richmond Symphony. Mr. Ruple has performed and presented concerts and masterclasses at a several universities and festivals throughout the United States. He has twice been a guest clinician for the City Music Festival in Hong Kong, China. In 2010, he taught and performed solo and chamber music at Opusfest in Cebu, Philippines. In May, 2012, he is scheduled to perform at the American Liszt Society Festival, in Oregon.

Mr. Ruple has been on the James Madison University music faculty since 1987 and coordinated the Piano Area from 1992-2010. He has been a MTNA Nationally Certified Teacher since 2001. In addition to JMU, Mr. Ruple has taught in a variety of other settings, including his summer work as a faculty member at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts. He often adjudicates competitions and festivals throughout the region.

Mr. Ruple has been particularly interested in late twentieth-century American piano music and has received acclaim for his performances of works by Elliott Carter, Frederick Rzewski, Robert Muczynski, John Corigliano and George Tsontakis, to name a few. He has done workshops and concerts on the music of fellow Arizonan, Robert Muczynski. Also of particular interest is the music of Beethoven, which resulted in a sabbatical leave from James Madison University in 2006 for the study and subsequent lectures and performances of Beethoven’s monumental “Diabelli” Variations.

Eric Ruple received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Piano Performance from Arizona State University, an Artist Diploma from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and his Doctorate from the University of Michigan. Among those with whom he has studied include: Leon Fleischer, Eugene Pridonoff, Theodore Lettvin, Martin Katz, Ozan Marsh and Charles Fisher. He has also worked with members of the LaSalle and Guarneri String Quartets.

Email: rupleek@jmu.edu
Office: 540.568.6375

PAULO STEINBERG, Associate Professor

Paulo Steinberg has performed as a soloist and as a collaborative pianist in Brazil, Canada, Iceland, and in the U.S., including two solo recitals at the Kennedy Center. Recent engagements include performances at the International Festival “Experiencing Villa-Lobos” and the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival “The Rhythms and Colors of South America”. He is Associate Professor of Piano at James Madison University.

Dr. Steinberg holds a bachelor’s degree in piano from Universidade de São Paulo, a Master’s degree from Arizona State University, and a Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University. A winner of several national competitions in Brazil, he was also the recipient of a substantial scholarship from the Brazilian Government while pursuing his Master’s degree. He has studied with Brazilian pianists Gilberto Tinetti, Caio Pagano and Paulo Gori, and Belgian pianist Ms. Evelyne Brancart.

Dr. Steinberg initiated a partnership with Música no Museu, an organization in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that co-sponsors a competition yearly, providing performance opportunities and scholarships for young musicians. He often serves as an adjudicator in competitions, and offers master classes, lectures, workshops and performances in the USA and abroad. Besides his love for performing and teaching, Dr. Steinberg holds an administrative position as president of the Virginia Music Teachers Association. His two CD projects are underway – a solo recording on Brazilian music and a CD for Clarinet and Piano, collaborating with Dr. Janice L. Minor, clarinet professor at James Madison University.

Email: paulosteinberg@gmail.com
Office: 540.568.6977