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"In my opinion, Michael Lu is a uniquely gifted and highly talented pianist." Alexander Toradze
"From the first performance, I was so impressed with his magnificent talent. Already with an amazing technical ability, what impressed me the most was his musicality, artistic, and personal approach to the music he was playing!" Eduardo Delgado
"Michael's passion for music leads him to a constant search for the deepest meaning beyond the notes. He strives to achieve perfection ... he studies and analyzes in detail each work he plays, but goes well beyond that, trying to read as much as possible about the composers and their times, and form a vision as complete as possible to lead him on the right path. His natural musicality can reach peaks of true artistry, and has continued to mature since I've known him." Antonio Pompa-Baldi
Noted for “moving” (Pianist) performances of a “warm, enveloping tone” (Cleveland Classical), 21-year-old American pianist Michael Lu is a young artist with an everlasting desire to reveal the true essence of each piece of music he touches and convey a powerful spiritual message to every listener. His thoughtful and intelligent performances are rapidly earning him recognition.
In 2020, Michael became one of ten pianists personally selected by Murray Perahia to participate in his series of masterclasses on Beethoven piano sonatas sponsored by G. Henle Verlag in 2021. Michael will receive a full-ride scholarship to work with Maestro Perahia on Beethoven's piano sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111, and perform a lunch concert with the other selected pianists in the historic Schloss Fürstenried in Munich, Germany. He also has been one of six pianists selected by Maria João Pires to participate in her first Partitura Residency in North America, at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, originally scheduled to be held in May 2020 but currently postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Michael was scheduled to study with the great pianist for one week and then share the stage with her at a Gilmore Keyboard Festival concert, in addition to performing outreach concerts for the greater Kalamazoo community.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 which shut down live concerts, Michael received invitations from numerous organizations to perform home recitals broadcasted online. In April, he performed a recital of Bach, Schumann, Mozart, and Chopin for Piano Cleveland's The Quarantine Concerts series. Piano Cleveland subsequently also invited Michael to participate in its Virtu(al)oso global virtual competition for artist relief in early August. His competition recital included the world premiere live performance of the Cotton Dance by Florence Price, as well as works by Schubert and Schumann. He donated 15% of his prize earnings to Anti-Slavery International and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. In June, Michael performed a recital for 5pm Series. The opening piece was the Andante second movement from the Piano Sonata in E minor by Florence Price, the first African-American woman composer to gain national and international recognition. He dedicated the recital, which also included works by Liszt, Franck, and Beethoven, to all victims of Black oppression. Through this recital, Michael raised hundreds of dollars to benefit the International Rescue Committee, Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, and the NAACP. Michael's performance of the Price Andante was subsequently selected by Pianist as one of the "best online performances" of that week. In July, Michael performed the first movement of Price's sonata, paired with Schumann's Toccata in C major, for the Art of the Piano festival's OnLive! Young Artist Concerts series.
With a concerto repertoire that includes dozens of complete works, Michael has performed as soloist with nearly a dozen orchestras encompassing three continents, most notably including the Orchestre de Cannes in France, the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra in the United States, and the Todi International Music Masters Ensemble in Italy. The young artist has worked with such conductors as Francesco D’Ovidio, Sergio Monterisi, Stephen Mulligan, Gemma New, and others. Michael’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra conducted by Gemma New at a sold-out Powell Symphony Hall in 2017 was broadcast on PBS affiliate KETC (Nine Network of Public Media). An accomplished chamber musician, Michael has performed chamber music with members of the Chicago Symphony and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras in the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, and throughout high school was a member of the Young Artist Chamber Program of the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis and a scholarship student of the Preparatory Program of the Community Music School of Webster University under the direction of Vera Parkin.
Michael has won prizes at numerous competitions, including the First Prize in the Midwest International Piano Competition in 2014 and a gold medal with High Distinction in the Manhattan International Music Competition in 2019.
A lifelong dream of Michael's is to use the power of great music to make a profound difference in the world. In December 2017, he founded Classical Music for a Better World (CMBW), and currently serves as its president and artistic director. CMBW’s sole mission is to inspire every single member of society to make the world as great as possible for all by powerfully communicating the human spirit through the ethereal beauty of classical music. The pursuit of this mission is centered on a series of online mini-concerts. In August 2020, CMBW hosted a lecture-recital on Florence Price’s Piano Sonata in E minor; Michael spoke about the sonata for almost 90 minutes before performing it in its entirety. Mini-concerts honoring National Coming Out Day (where Michael will perform music of Tchaikovsky, Barber and Jennifer Higdon), Beethoven’s 250th birthday (where Michael will perform the sonatas nos. 14, 24, and 32), and International Women’s Day (where Michael will perform, among other works, his own transcription of Amy Beach’s Romance for Violin and Piano) are among those planned for the 2020-21 season.
Born in August 1999 in Boston, Michael moved to St. Louis when he was three years old. He began his piano studies two years later at the age of five. During his years in high school, his mentors were Stanislav Ioudenitch and the late Seth Carlin. Michael currently studies with Antonio Pompa-Baldi as a full-scholarship student of the Cleveland Institute of Music. Michael also had additional private studies with Reid Smith and Jon Kimura Parker. Through his teachers, Michael can trace his pedagogical lineage back to many key figures of the Russian, German, and French pianistic traditions, including Alexander Goldenweiser, Heinrich Neuhaus, and Josef and Rosina Lhévinne from the Russian tradition; Artur Schnabel, Rudolf Serkin, Edwin Fischer, and Wilhelm Kempff from the German tradition; Alfred Cortot, Georges Mathias (a student of Chopin), Yves Nat, and Marguerite Long from the French tradition; and other figures such as Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Ferruccio Busoni. Michael has had the privilege to be coached in masterclasses and private lessons by such great pianists as Eduardo Delgado, Enrico Elisi, Garrick Ohlsson, William Grant Naboré, Paul Schenly, Daniel Shapiro, and Ruth Slenczynska.
Michael has been very passionate about teaching piano from a young age; since giving his first piano lessons at the age of fourteen, his students have won international competitions and appeared as soloist with such orchestras as the Alton Symphony Orchestra, Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Missouri Baptist University Orchestra. Outside of music, Michael’s passions include roller coasters (he once rode the Batman: The Ride roller coaster at Six Flags St. Louis 93 times in a single day), bowling, swimming, watching sports (he is a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros baseball teams), food, literature, movies, and TV shows.
Michael is a great admirer of the artistry of many great musicians of the past, including, among others, the pianists Artur Schnabel, Alfred Cortot, Vladimir Horowitz, Claudio Arrau, Leon Fleisher, Rudolf Firkušný, Emil Gilels, Glenn Gould, Mieczysław Horszowski, William Kapell, Alicia de Larrocha, Dinu Lipatti, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Sviatoslav Richter, Arthur Rubinstein, Peter Serkin, and Vladimir Sofronitsky, and the conductors Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Otto Klemperer, Carlos Kleiber, George Szell, and Arturo Toscanini; their recordings are a major source of influence and inspiration for his music-making.
English and Mandarin Chinese (fluent); German (elementary proficiency); Italian (basic knowledge)
String Quintet in C major, D. 956 by Franz Schubert
Chopin Preludes by Cortot (1933); Schubert piano sonatas (D. 850, 959, 960) and Beethoven piano sonatas by Schnabel; Liszt Mephisto Waltz No. 1 by Kapell (1945); Janáček piano music by Firkušný (1970-1971); Rachmaninoff playing his transcription of his song "Lilacs" (1942); Scriabin Piano Sonata No. 3 by Sofronitsky (1946)
Beethoven String Quartet Op. 127 by Busch Quartet or Schubert String Quintet D. 956 by Emerson SQ/Rostropovich
Schubert Symphony No. 9 by Furtwängler/BPO or Beethoven Symphony No. 7 by Kleiber/VPO
Art Tatum's "Piano Starts Here" album, or the expanded edition of Ella Fitzgerald's album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, especially "Mood Indigo" and "Love You Madly" with Oscar Peterson
Steel Vengeance or Millennium Force at Cedar Point
Anything that is good
The Legend of 1900
Curb Your Enthusiasm
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