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Professor Tsitsaros releases Double CD of Original Compositions

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Released October 15 on the Centaur label, this new double CD contains several original compositions representing the compositional output of the last nine years of Professor of Piano Pedagogy Christos Tsitsaros. Marking a new creative phase, the works of this period are characterized by an idiomatic musical language abounding Greek and Middle Eastern references, and are deeply inspired by the Mediterranean landscape and rich imagery found in ancient Greek and Cypriot mythology.

In addition to the solo pieces that Professor Tsitsaros performs on this CD set, there are two chamber music works, the Introduction and Dance for Violin and Piano, performed by John and Joseph Irrera who commissioned the work, and the Fantasy for Oboe, B-flat Clarinet, and Piano (Hal Leonard, 2017), performed in collaboration with U of I professors John Dee (oboe) and J. David Harris (clarinet). The Fantasy was commissioned by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and premiered at the 2017 MTNA Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

The piano solo works featured are Three Preludes: A Mythical Triptych (Hal Leonard, 2014) for which Prof. Tsitsaros was awarded 2014 Distinguished Composer of the Year by the Music Teachers National Association; Seascapes, a series of five tonal tableaux inspired by the scenery and musical tradition of his native, Cyprus; his latest publication, Five Summer Pieces (Hal Leonard, 2021), and an earlier collection, the Lyric Ballads (Hal Leonard, 2012). Prior to this release, Dr. Tsitsaros produced four albums of original music with the Centaur label (1998, 2008, and two in 2011).

Prof. Tsitsaros’ new piano collection, Five Summer Pieces, published in May 2021, marks a 30-year collaboration with Hal Leonard, the largest music publisher in the U.S. Launched in 1992 as a result of Prof. Tsitsaros winning the composition competition of the 1992 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, this longstanding relationship yielded a series of collections representing all levels of advancement that have been embraced by the teaching community and young pianists in the United States and internationally. Some highlights include Autumn Sketches (1993), Poetic Moments (2003), Songs Without Words (2004), Dances from Around the World (2007), Sonatina Humoresque (2009), Lyric Ballads (2012), Sea Diary (2017), and Three Preludes: A Mythical Triptych (2014). Many of these works have been adopted by prestigious examination systems and competitions, such as the Gina Bachauer Junior Piano Competition and the National Federation of Music Clubs; they have also been performed in festivals and recitals worldwide. In addition to his original collections and individual solos, Dr. Tsitsaros served as contributing composer to the Hal Leonard Student Piano Library, a widely adopted beginning piano method first appeared in 1996. He also edited and recorded the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, First Lessons in Bach, and Bach’s 19 Little Preludes for the Schirmer Performance Editions series, a venture between Hal Leonard and G. Schirmer. His Symmetrical Warm-Ups (2011), a compendium of short, transposable exercises, aim at helping the pianist prepare for practicing sessions and concerts in a safe and anatomically ergonomic way.

Dr. Tsitsaros has given numerous workshops and presentations across the United States and participated in prestigious conferences, such as the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, the Music Teachers National Association Conference, the International Conference on European Music Education in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Symposium on Piano Pedagogy in Seoul, Korea, where he was featured artist in 2013. Representative of these activities is his latest lecture/presentation for the 2021 Virtual National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy on developing students’ creativity by means of a linear approach to keyboard harmony and texture.

Composed in the summer of 2018, the Five Summer Pieces are evocative tone poems that can be performed partly or in their entirety in a recital setting.  “Sweeping melodies, expressive chromaticism and textural brilliance capture the true essence of Romantic story telling in Five Summer Pieces: Romantic Tone Poems for Piano Solo. Composed by Christos Tsitsaros, internationally acclaimed composer and professor of piano pedagogy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, this masterfully crafted collection for late-intermediate to advanced level pianists orchestrates a developing story line encompassing all five pieces, from the mystical beginning of Reverie to the lively and technically vivid conclusion of the Toccata.[….]The portrayal of emotional freedom and imagery embedded in the music forms a potent combination, and the relative comfortability of impressive virtuosic passages gives the pianist a sense of technical control and ease within the natural shape and extension of the hand. Ultimately, this contemporary take on the tone poem serves as an efficient and thorough guide to musical narration and expressivity.” (American Music Teacher, October/November 2021 issue, reviews, pp. 44-45.)


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