“Michael is a rare talent that I just want to sum up in a few words: charismatic, impressive, musical (rare quality to find in the new generation of pianists as we all know), exciting, polished, and always ready to perform all sorts of different repertoire. He always surprises me. What I like the most is the fact that he is always personal: interesting and with a new refreshing insight and approach to the Music he plays. Always charming and individual, he greatly impacts the people who listen to him.” –Eduardo Delgado
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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. He is receiving recognition for his performances not only from music critics but also from great artists of our time – including Eduardo Delgado, Murray Perahia, Maria João Pires, and Alexander Toradze. In addition to possessing an unusually wide range of standard repertoire, Michael’s solo, chamber music, and concerto repertoire includes a large number of masterpieces by living and neglected composers such as Beach, Clarke, Dett, Hailstork, Higdon, Kaprálová, Price, Reubke, Sheng, Silvestrov, Walker, and Walton.
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. 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 The Quarantine Concerts series by Piano Cleveland, the organization that hosts and was formerly known as the Cleveland International Piano Competition. Piano Cleveland subsequently also invited Michael to perform in its Virtu(al)oso global competition for artist relief in early August. He donated nearly 20% 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 throughout American history. 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 together 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 more than 45 complete concerti, 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 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 under the coordination of Alvin McCall, as well as a scholarship student of the Preparatory Program of the Community Music School of Webster University under the direction of Vera Parkin.
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. In October, he performed a mini-concert honoring National Coming Out Day with music by Barber, Higdon, and Tchaikovsky. A concert honoring International Women’s Day is planned for 2021.
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.
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 musicians as Eduardo Delgado, Enrico Elisi, David Halen, Jaime Laredo, Ilya Kaler, Daniel Lee, Garrick Ohlsson, William Grant Naboré, Manuel Ramos, Paul Schenly, Daniel Shapiro, Ruth Slenczynska, and others.
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 soloists 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.
Current as of January 2021