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Make Music Chicago Day

Susan Merdinger and Sheridan Solisti Chamber Orchestra

Chicago, IL --As part of the city-wide and nation-wide Make Music Day of celebration on the Summer Solstice, Susan Merdinger and Friends will take the stage in Ganz Hall at Roosevelt University as Sheridan Solisti Chamber Orchestra. 

The concert program will include Ernest Bloch’s Concerto Grosso No. 1 for Strings and Piano (1925), with Steven Greene, pianist; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23, K. 488 with Merdinger conducting from the piano;  Dvorak’s lively Rondo for Cello and Orchestra with Nazar Dzhuryn, Cello Soloist; Gershwin’s Summertime, arranged for Cello and Orchestra, and two contemporary works: Ilya Levinson’s American Landscapes for Orchestra and Aaron Alter’s Solar Rays for Flutes and Orchestra. The Concert will open with Franz Danzi’s Duet for Viola and Cello with Concert Master Charles Pikler and Principal Cellist Nazar Dzhuryn. 

Sheridan Solisti Chamber Orchestra was founded by Steinway Artist Susan Merdinger in 2019, but has been dormant since then, in large part due to the Pandemic. The orchestra was founded to help promote its members both as soloists and orchestral musicians. 

Although Merdinger is well-known as a soloist, few people are familiar with her orchestral conducting talents, first nurtured when she was an undergraduate and graduate student at Yale, under the tutelage of Robert Kapilow, Otto Werner Mueller, and Seymour Lipkin.  Recently, Merdinger had the opportunity to conduct the Highland Park Strings from the piano in Mozart’s Concerto No. 25, and guest conducting the North Shore Chamber Orchestra.  “I always dreamt of being a conductor, since I have always thought about the piano in terms of orchestral colors and sounds, and I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with members of an orchestra”, explains Merdinger from her home studio in Fort Sheridan, Illinois.  “I also enjoyed many years in a youth orchestra playing the flute, piano and celeste, which was a formative experience for me that continued while at Yale.  As a teen, I studied violin under New York Philharmonic member Asya Meshberg, but I found it excruciatingly painful for my fingertips and gave it up after three years!  I also had eight years of ballet and figure skating, the choreography of which is something I can subconsciously draw upon when conducting an orchestra."  Although it was difficult enough to be a female pianist in the earliest years of her career, Susan happily chose to focus on performing as a soloist and chamber musician- her primary passion!  “At a certain point, however, I began to realize how much I love being enveloped in symphonic sounds and the enormous repertoire that an orchestra offers.  The gender barriers seem to be falling away for female conductors.  Thus, I am continually seeking out more opportunities to conduct orchestras in some of my favorite symphonic repertoire.  Much of my orchestral repertoire I learned in my 30+ year career as a duo-pianist performing orchestral transcriptions and arrangements such as Stravinsky’s “Petrouchka”, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, or Brahms’ Haydn Variations, for example,” explains Ms. Merdinger.  “However, keeping an ensemble of two, three, or four people together is entirely different than keeping an orchestra of 40-60 people in sync”! For this Make Music Day concert, Merdinger will perform and conduct from the piano, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23, in A major, K. 488. Merdinger explains her choice as a return to her “Viennese classical roots”, as this was the very first concert she studied as a young pianist around age 12.

The Ukrainian-born American cellist, Nazar Dzhuryn, the featured soloist and Principal cellist for the concert, is a member of the Sheridan Solisti Piano Trio with Susan Merdinger and Cyrus Forough.  Nazar Dzhuryn’s worldwide performances have been hailed  by critics and audiences alike as “Captivating" and "Inspiring."  Mr. Dzhuryn appeared in concert with many classical music legends such as Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, Daniel Barenboim, Mstislav Rostropovich and Georg Solti. Nazar describes his background with the Dvorak Rondo which he will perform with the NSCO:

”It is a piece I have played since I was sixteen years old and it was on my audition list to Moscow Conservatory in 1990. Dvorak is very famous for his concerto op.104 and this is op.94 written before. I like this piece because it gives freedom of expression, interaction with an orchestra, a momentum that every time you live in a different way. I enjoy performing in solo, chamber or orchestra settings, and this Rondo is a fun solo to perform because of its Eastern European style which is my heritage.” Nazar began his cello studies at age six in his native Lviv, Ukraine. “At that time I was a humble and quiet kid who was doing what I was told to do. I did not think of inspiration at that time, but I do now. My earliest inspirations were Feuermann, Piatigorsky, and Shafran”, Nazar reminisced.

Nazar’s solo recitals for Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts and the PianoForte Salon Series have been broadcast live on 98.7 WFMT. He has appeared as a soloist with the Moscow State Symphony “Young Russia,” Moscow Conservatory Symphony, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, in the prestigious Rush Hour Concerts at St. James Cathedral and as a guest artist with Chicago Chamber Musicians. Merdinger immediately thought to invite Nazar Dzhuryn to be a featured artist on the program. Susan explains “I love Nazar’s sound and interpretations of all the music we have performed together, from Schubert to Schumann, Beethoven to Brahms, Piazzolla to Prokofieff.  Nazar can play anything and everything and do it so well. Since we already have a long-standing collaborative partnership as a duo and piano trio, I thought it would be great to work together again with Nazar from the podium in a Chicago venue, reachinga new audience.”

For more information please visit: www.susanmerdingerpianist.com


2023 Chopin with a View International Piano Competition and Festival

Fourth Annual Competition!

Distinguished Jurors are announced and Applications are accepted now through March 31st, ( Late fees have been waived) with video submissions due by April 1st.

Ringing in the New Year 2023

Annual Musicale draws a record crowd!

Susan and Steven Greene, Owners of Sheridan Music Studio host the Annual New Year's Day Musicale in their home- after a two year suspension due to the Pandemic! A delightful group of musicians and music lovers enjoyed a 5 hour long party with homemade food and drink, and glorious music performed by some of Chicago's finest musicians. Click on the link to view the full-length video!

Performers included: Aidan and Leilan Watts, violinists; Grace Tong, pianist: Tao Tong, tenor; Cantor Stefanie Greene, soprano; Charles Pikler, viola and violin: Steven Greene, piano; Xiaoping Wang, piano; Susan Merdinger, piano; Irina Feoktistova, piano; Nora Williams, viola; Violetta Todorova, violin; Martine Benmann, cello; Sasha Levinson, cello; Ilya Levinson, piano;