American Concert Pianist, Steinway Artist, Susan Merdinger

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Merdinger's Musings

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Strike- MY OPINION 

As the CSO Strike continues to weigh on the musicians of the CSO, the Chicago Classical Music community and Classical Music lovers around the world, I have been reading with great interest a lot of commentary on the situation at hand. I have noted a gradual shifting away of support from the musicians towards the management. and a general lack of patience with this process.

I want to go on record as saying that I am 100% in support of the CSO Musicians, even as I can rationally agree with some of the points…

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Preparing a concerto for performance with orchestra 

As I get ready to perform Brahms' monumental Piano Concerto No.2 on May 5th with the Northbrook Symphony, I figured my fans might want some insight into the process that I go through to prepare a concerto for performance. 

I will tell you first that it is at once a challenge and a pleasure to play a concerto with an orchestra. The Van Cliburn Silver Medalist Santiago Rodriguez once told me backstage after one of his concerts that "concertos are the bread and butter" of a pianist's career. So, what exactly…

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New friends, new music! 

Coming up next week I will perform a new recital program entitled "Four Centuries- Sonatas". At my November 4th recital at the Northbrook Public Library I will present this program with some discussion about what the definition of Sonata is, and what are the common attributes of a sonata or sonata form. The works I will play span four centuries, hence the title. For openers I will start with two Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti- each a little gem! This will be followed by two fairly famous sonatas- Beethoven's…

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Concertos Galore!  

I just love performing concertos with orchestras- it can be the most gratifying and also at times the most terrifying of musical experiences as a soloist. It's a little bit like chamber music on steroids- so much more to listen for, so much more to watch and observe, so much more SOUND! It is really quite a thrill, and I was lucky to perform two of my favorite concertos last season- Cesar Franck's Symphonic Variations and Beethoven's Triple Concerto. Now this season two more show-stoppers- Tchaikovsky's…

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Fulcrum Point New Music Concert- Chicago Latino Music Festival 

SO delighted to perform in the Fulcrum Point New Music Group's concert this evening at the invitation of the founder and Artistic Director, Stephen Burns, who also happens to be a world-class Trumpet soloist. What a fascinating, electrifying and mesmerizing concert of electro-acoustic contemporary music works by the distinguished composers Gustavo Leone, Gabriela Lena Frank, Elbio Barilari, Rodrigo Sigal, and Javier Alvarez. 

I was delighted to perform in this program along with Stephen Burns, cellist…

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Sheridan Music Studio Presents the Gift of Music! Year-end Donations still being accepted! 

Dear Friends, Family and Fans! 

I want to wish you all Peace, Health and Propserity in this Joyous Holiday Saeason! 

I write to you now to remind you of the mission of Sheridan Music Studio Presents and ask you to consider a year-end tax-deductible contribution to my arts organization which represents many fine professional musicians including myself. Sheridan Music Studio Presents is a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas- which means that your contributions through the Fractured Atlas website…

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Perfect Pianissimo: Jeremy Denk in Recital At Symphony Center 

Sunday afternoon proved to be a challenging time to give a piano recital- a glorious, beautiful day, following a week of the most historic and tumultuous Presidential Election in recent times. Jeremy Denk's recital proved to be at times challenge for both him and the audience, with varying degrees of success. Denk presented a most interesting and engaging recital program, of choice standard repertoire more memorably complemented by some unusual fare.

His program opened with the famous Mozart Sonata in A…Read more

A new facet to my music career- Music Journalism! 

Dear Friends,
I invite you to read the marvelous Music Review Column by Phil Muse, the long-standing reviewer for the Audio-Video Club of Atlanta. Phil has invited me to take over his role as reviewer for the AVCOA, starting in November, and as such, I have written to sample reviews for his August column, which I am re-posting here, by mutual agreement!
I hope you enjoy reading these reviews and listening to these newly released CD's! 

“Colors,” music of Vitali, Janáček, Prokofiev, Beethoven, Debussy – Jessica…

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"The show must go on!" 

Yesterday was a first-time ever experience for me of playing a concert and in the middle of it, the complete lyre and pedal assembly fell off the piano hitting the floor with a big thud! I mean, I have endured some broken strings, and keys falling off, and notes not repeating, and the like. But THIS??? The SOUL of the PIANO just GONE? In keeping with the tradition of "the show must go on" I still never imagined I could continue to perform the Finale movement of Mendelssohn's C minor Piano Trio with NO…

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Reflections on Winning.... 

I sit here today and am proud announce the news about my dear friend and colleague, German-born violin virtuoso, David Yonan, winning First Prize in the Alexander Buono International String Competition, with his performance on the Four Centuries CD we just recorded together in July leading to this significant prize. 

David Yonan is already a First Prize winner of so many international competitions- I don't have to recount them here- you can visit his website to learn more: But what I can…Read more

A lot is happening! 

Looking forward to offering a Chopin Mazurka Masterclass to the Chicago Amateur Piano Guild this Saturday! I've been working on the Mazurka's and finding such joy in the creative spark that Chopin displayed in this stylized dance form native to his homeland- Poland. I cannot wait to listen to the passionately dedicated adult pianists who are in a quest for "piano perfection". Does this "perfection" ever exist? Not a chance...not for any true professional nor amateur. That is the fate of being a musician-…Read more

Reflections on making a violin and piano CD recording... 

Yesterday was Day 1 of my recording session with the German-born violinist, David Yonan. This recording will be our first studio recording together, although we have performed together in so many concerts I have lost count. While I have made numerous duo piano recordings with my husband, Steven Greene, and have played many chamber music concerts which have been recorded live, this CD will represent the first recording of a piano and "other instrument" I have ever made. So I thought it would be interesting…Read more

My new mantra to my students: Look, Listen, Love.... 

This past week of teaching brought to the fore my latest advice in alliterative form- therefore, easy to remember. While teaching one 13 year old prodigy student, who seemed to be having some difficulty digesting the music, I realized that what was lacking in his approach was some relatively basic, fundamental processes that are necessary to bring a 2-dimensional page with black dots and lines all over it to life as a real piece of music.
The first directive is- "Look"- that is to actually study the score…Read more

Reflections on the future of Classical music...from a love, life and death perspective. 

Being a professional musician requires a great deal of sensitivity and high emotional IQ,  no doubt. No greater test of one's ability to control one's emotions in a performance occurs when one is called upon to play at a wedding, funeral or memorial service. Early in my career, I played a ton of wedding gigs. I didn't like it much, and resented often being  simply "background" music. However, over the years I have come to realize that weddings and funerals present a similar intensity of emotion- from the…Read more

Some thoughts on the subject of kindness.... 

" Not everyone will have the heart you do. Not everyone will appreciate you and what you do for them. Sometimes, it won't be easy having a kind heart in a cruel world."
Tony Gaskins, Life Coach and Motivational Speaker

To all my kind and sensitive friends- you're not alone. And yes, you are appreciated, just not by everyone! We must work hard not to take the vicissitudes of life too personally, and try to believe in the goodness that exists in people- obviously some more than others. It is only human nature…Read more

On the meaning of Freedom, Forgiveness, Responsibility and Respect 

As the Springtime is upon us, a new sense of freedom and lightness and gaiety pervades. Hope, renewed energy, sunlight, and more! But what is the real meaning of Freedom? Is freedom simply the opposite of slavery in the most literal sense of the words? Or is there something more to freedom than that? I think true freedom means different things to different people. To me, freedom means being able to be who you are, being able to do what you were meant to do, being able to be  truthful to oneself and to…Read more

The Making of a Musician... 

It's been quite a week here in the Merdinger-Greene household! Our eldest daughter, mezzo-soprano Stefanie Greene, performed her Masters of Music Degree recital on March 19th at North Park University, performing works by Verdi, Strauss, Heggie, and Berlioz. Our middle daughter, Sarah Greene, appeared on the FOX TV show, Final series and season episode of Glee! and our son, Scott Greene, aka Megaphonix, has newly released tracks on Beatport! Husband Steve Greene did accompanying for young artists in solo and…Read more

Some like it hot, some like it cold... 

At this point in my career, as a performer and teacher, I am trying to decide which is better or worse for performing musicians- extreme cold or extreme heat? I am also wondering what are the best solutions for dealing with either extreme condition? Even though we generally are sheltered from the outside elements, one cannot escape the feeling of coldness and drafts in the Winter or the excessive humidity and oppressive heat in the Summer. And there are the summer festivals which of course do require…Read more

On "winning" and "losing"... pre-reflections on the Grammy Awards! 

So this is the weekend of the Grammy Awards. It was my second year as a voting member of NARAS, and I had two entries- my Soiree Solo Piano CD, and French Fantasy, A Piano Duet CD, recorded with my husband, Steven Greene. I cannot tell you how much I would have loved a nomination- as did so many other musicians like myself- both famous, and not-so-famous, signed with big labels, or indies.. All during this process of promotion and networking and hoping to garner votes and support for my entires yielded some…Read more

On learning new, contemporary music...  

In about a month i will premiere a totally new work by Uruguayan-American, Chicago-based composer, Elbio Barilari. Elbio and I have have a wonderful working relationship- I premiered his Toccata Gaucha in 2012, and also performed hi Darwin's Dream Trio on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Series in 2012. Last year, he invited me to perform a solo recital on his Latino Music Festival at the Pianoforte Salon in downtown Chicago, and numerous times at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he is…Read more