I wanted to see how you handle Debussy's unique concept of the piano, and must say that your delineation of the layers of sound in Estampes is quite amazing. I'm an Ivan Moravec fan, and feel that your simultaneous balancing of different textural strata of Debussy's writing rivals and often surpasses his.
You handled the pentatonic filigree very well...sometimes (as in the bottom system of page 1), it was barely audible, which was terrific; it sounded like another instrument providing this delicate figuration. Similarly, the opening of Soiree dans Grenada was extremely delicate and evocative, and the later passage (the A Major that's laid out on 3 staves), was stunning in it's effect--- the top-staff parallel chords really sounded like a distant choir of sound, with the middle-staff melody clearly prominent (but, forgive the criticism,... the Leger et lointain sounded too "present").
I listened through some of the Schumann Carnaval, and was greatly impressed by the clarity, shaping, and overall idiom of your performance. Your delineation of rhythm and the was particularly good--- your integration of the two upper voices (upper in 8ths, the lower in 16ths) was excellently balanced, and the left- hand accompaniment actually sounded like muted cellos/bassoons, ....? Something utterly unilke a standard piano sound...which I love!
Superb balancing, voicing, imaging, textural delineation....whatever term one chooses. I've heard pianists praised as treating the instrument" like an orchestra"...but never quite like your playing; Brava!
Lawrence Rapchak, Music Director, Northbrook Symphony Orchestra, Northbrook, Illinois
"The orchestra really enjoyed working with you"
Thanks again for a wonderful performance with the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra earlier this month. The feedback has been fantastic and the orchestra really enjoyed working with you. Best wishes,
Sandra Dackow, Music Director, Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra, Ridgewood, NJ
"You were a superstar at both concerts"
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful talent with us for the last two Adelphi Concerts. Everyone agrees that you were a super start at both concerts. We, in the Adelphi, are very proud that we were the first orchestra in New Jersey to have had you as a guest artist. I know you will go far and I want to wish you the best in the world. Please don't forget us and come back and play with the Adelphi again. You were wonderful to work with. With luck and love,
Franz Coldwell, Adelphi Chamber Orchestra, Paramus, NJ
"You are just an outstanding pianist and orchestral player"
I can't thank you enough for your role in yesterday's concert. You are just an outstanding pianist and orchestral player. That doesn't always exist in the same player, so I really appreciated the opportunity to work with you. The Bartok came off amazingly well and sounded extremely professional by everyone, so I was very pleased. We certainly had a great audience and you cannot complain about a full house! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving and we have the opportunity to work together again!
Joseph Glymph, Music Director, Classical Symphony Orchestra, Chicago, IL
"Fantastic and inspiring"
Susan Merdinger is a wonderful musician, fantastic piano player and inspiring teacher! She is an enthusiastic advocate of contemporary music and is a great collaborator on top of that! I recommend her highly for solo, chamber and orchestral engagements.
October 8, 2012
Ilya Levinson, Assistant Professor, Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
"Phenomenal artist...a true master"
Susan Merdinger is a phenomenal artist in the “true sense” of the latin word (a creative person with exceptional skills and comprehensive culture). In a world where only technical skills seem to prevail she is one of the rare examples where the language of the keyboard is still the language of the mind and soul. I love the culture behind music and truly agree with Huizinga that art without historical insights and its philosophical background is meaningless. In my life I met many music performers and so-called music teachers and always became disappointed with the intellectual relationship and the ability to sustain “notes” with thoughts, colors, feelings, arguments…When I met Susan, and began studying piano under her guidance, I understood again the importance of the high quality communication between a student and a master. Learning becomes a complex and deep bi-directional process of fascination, curiosity, interest, charm. The time spent in this process becomes as sparks in a dark night, opening new perspectives, giving ideas and direction.
Susan is a true master with all the qualities of sensibilities, charm, culture, and technical skills.
Dr. Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti, Professor and Chief of Surgery, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL
"Outstanding pianist, charming personality"
Susan Merdinger is an outstanding pianist. Not only has she excelled in the Doctoral Program at the Manhattan School of Music, but also last season appeared twice as soloist with the Westchester Chamber Orchestra, gave at least 20 solo recitals throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and then made a spectacular debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall as a prize winner of Artists International. All these appearances and Susan’s great critical acclaim throughout the U.S.A. and Europe have enhanced both her reputation and that of our school. Not only is she a fine pianist, but also a charming personality, a reliable person and a wonderful ensemble player.
Constance Keene, Manhattan School of Music, New York City, New York
"Truly gifted young artist"
Dear Ms. Merdinger,
It was indeed a pleasure for Artists International to present you in your New York Debut as a Winner of its 1986 Young Artists Auditions. You played beautifully, and your interpretations were not only very musical, but were full of color and the imagination of a truly gifted young artist. I especially liked the Carnaval for its musicality and vivid imagination, and the Debussy for its wide range of impressionaistic color, as well as your outstanding rendition of the Beethoven and Liszt. Because you did so outstandingly well please consider this letter an open invitation to perform in Artists International's Series during any season of your choosing. It will be a pleasure to present you as an alumnus-winner of its Young Artists Auditions.
Unfortunately, the New York Times was unable to send a reviewer to your recital. Sincere there was no "Debuts in Reviews" column in the Sunday May 3rd editions of the New york Times, it is assumed that none of the debut artists for that week were reviewed. Please be advised that Artists International has learned from its 14 years of presenting experience that if an artists was not reviewed in her last N.Y. recital, and if this is brought to the attention of the "Times" Music Editor the next time the artist gives a recital, that the New York TImes will make an effort to have the artist reviewed.
Leo B. Ruiz, Artists International Presentations, Inc, New York City, NY May 1st, 1987
"Refined Musicality and astounding technique"
With 40 years of experience as a concert manager, and having heard thousands of pianists, and having accepted only two hundred of them, I may tell you that Ms. Merdinger’s playing is so special since it not only has the refined musicality and astounding technique, but also the maturity and the phantasy which makes her music so sparkling…We feel that she is the top among the American pianists of her generation.
Harry de Freese, International Concert Administration
"Dancing and sparkling perfectly"
The Chopin G minor Ballade showed many personal touches, much variety of characterization and warmth of singing melody. I particularly appreciated the balletic E-flat section which is so often rushed to death. You got it dancing and sparkling perfectly. You ended the piece with just the right combination of fire and dignity and doom….The Mozart D major Sonata was a joy, with energy, good style and crisp execution, and the perfect amount of pedal.The Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody showed your finest work. You played with zest and security, even in the famously dangerous stride-bass sections. This is no easy piece to bring off, let alone have some real fun with it the way you did.
Anthony Morss, Conductor, New York City, NY
"Invaluable advice and recommendations"
I have had the pleasure to work with Ms Merdinger during the 2010 Midwest Young Artists Concerto Competition where she accompanied my son. She was there for him all the way through, providing invaluable advice and recommendations. Before we met Ms Merdinger, I have never seen an accompanist who would put so much effort and preparation as she did to ensure my son's success in the competition. He was named an overall junior division winner that year and Ms Merdinger's work with him was absolutely instrumental in winning this difficult competition. August 22, 2011
Peter Ganev, Highwood, IL
"Exceptional beauty and artistry"
Susan Merdinger performs classical piano repertoire with exceptional beauty and artistry. Her interpretation of all musical genres and deep insight into composition allows her to provide breathtaking performances in recitals, competitions and on the concert stage. Susan’s passion for and experience with all classical music literature allows her to collaborate and support musicians who aspire to perform compositions combining piano, voice, strings, woodwinds and other types of musical instruments.
As a teacher, Susan provides a comprehensive analysis of musical structure, accent, voicing, rhythm, harmony and interpretation. She has helped her piano students understand the structure and achieve the fingering and phrasing for the most complicated musical passages. She provides the support and encouragement required by students who want to excel while performing in recitals, competitions and master classes. Susan is surrounded by family, friends and peers who she has helped grow musically and personally and we are all thankful for her capacity to share her knowledge, skills and dedication to life, music and the arts.
Richard A. Frank, Chicago, Illinois, February 24, 2011
Your concert Sunday was simply awesome! You are truly world-class and your colleague was equally marvelous!
JoAnn Minds, Evanston Music Club, Evanston, Illinois
"Beautiful, peaceful, uplifting"
On behalf of the staff and members of the Highland Park Senior Center, I cannot thank you enough for the beautiful concert you and your colleagues performed on November 14th. The talent was unbelievably amazing and the music selection was just perfect for a cold winter's day! Much of the audience, including myself, closed our eyes and allowed ourselves to be transported to another world...a beautiful, peaceful and uplifting place in our music filled thoughts! It was an amazing experience!The admiration expressed to me, by our members, as the concert finished and over the following days made it clear that you touched the lives of many.
Laura Frey, CPRP, Highland Park Senior Center Highland Park, IL
"Amazed and thrilled"
"Brilliance and sensitivity"
Susan Merdinger is an outstanding talent. She combines great intelligence and technical prowess with determination, stamina and drive…Happily, in her case, brilliance is counterbalanced by sensitivity, power alternates with grace.
Michael Pollon, Director Emeritus, Westchester Conservatory of Music, White Plains, NY
"Your talent added that special ingredient of elegance to the evening"
Dear Susan and Steven, Thank you so much for your wonderful and enjoyable performance at our reception on November 20th at Taven on the Green restaurant. I am sure all who attended inlucding our guests of honor, Phyllis and Martin Barell and our special guest speaker, Jon F. Kennedy Jr. were delighted by your delivery. Enclosed please find some photos of you with John F Kennedy Jr. which i hope you will enjoy. Best wishes for a prosperous and healthy New Year. Sincerely,
Brenda Wilkin, Executive Director, David Yellin Teachers College
"It was absolutely breathtaking"
I find it difficult to express how grateful I am to you for last saturday evening. It was absolutely breathtaking! You are a tremendously talented pianist and as I mentioned at the concert, there's no doubt that your music will be heard in recital halls world-wide. Let me also add that you are beatuiful young lady both inwardly and for all to see.I hope that the enclose certificate of appreciation will help to convey the feelings of all of us at SJK and that it serves as a happy remembrance of the evening. Bill joins me in sending our warmest regards to your husband and your parents. We look forward to seeing you at Carnegie Hall! Sincerely,
Stephanie Joyce Kahn, President, SJK Mobile Audio Libraries
"I could have listened to you all night long"
The highlight of the evening for me was when you played Debussy. I could have listened to you all night long…You added something. And I think it is your imagination that enhanced the sound. And that sound was serene. Rain splashing gently on oriental gardens was a clear vision in that hall.
Eleanor Ehrenkrantz, PhD, White Plains, NY
"Exciting and energizing"
Susan Merdinger brings great enthusiasm to her virtuosic piano performances. Her repertoire is vast and she has a fearlessness that makes performing with her exciting and energizing. September 13, 2011
Nora Williams, Violist/Violinist, Chicago, IL
"Mastery and sensitivity"
Susan blends her mastery of the piano with a sensitivity for her students. An accomplished pianist whose love of music resonates with her students. Susan is a role model for my daughter, engaging her through instruction, performance and achieving her personal best.
Dave Sametz, Highland Park, Illinois February 22, 2011
About Four Centuries CD by David Yonan and Susan Merdinger
Susan and David,
Well I have been listening to your CD for most of the day. I am really very impressed. There seems to be a special bond between you that renders the duo unique and makes the listener guess who is leading whom? Indeed the well chosen works on the CD are extremely well balanced between piano and violin. Mozart was so new sounding due to your excellent dynamic contrast and super articulation . The violin David recorded with has a wide array of colours that really made Mozart sound novel. Schumann was also superior in terms of how you both sang with one voice. The lebhaft mov't really made me think of how desperate Schumann must have been and how much inner sorrow there was in his soul. He almost seems desperate to write a happy or exciting third movement but he was of course covering up his own despair by recalling what once was in his life. The Bloch was new to me and well I liked it straight off and more so on subsequent hearings. As with other works of this period, there is a sense of profound believe in the cultural heritage of the Jewish people and one he wishes to spread in his most particular way. A very new sounding work and harmonically my kind of stuff. The Levinson started out in the same tone as the Bloch and then began taking shape of its own . Beautifully written for the violin and expressive it did somewhat perplex me at first and admit to having had to listen a few times as I could not understand where some of the material came from. Then the changes of register helped me understand that constant variation was the skill at work here. Some moments seemed to me to be recollections of childhood experiences that were recalled or reminisced upon in maturity. The title seemed to me to be the bridge of time looking backwards. Indeed The element of time plays a dramatic role as does silence and this yet again adds to the constant variation technique at work. Bravo to Mr. Levinson. Well those are my thoughts and I will certainly enjoy this disc for much time to come. My sincerest congratulations to you both . My scores arrived from my publishers today so I will put them in the mail tomorrow . He sent me all that was ready and nicely engraved. Hugs to you from Milano! ??
Sandro Fazzolari, Composer, November 2015
Brilliant performance-thank you!
You made me cry when I listened to you play beautifully and spirited.
Would you consider performing at Ravinia Festival ...The composer would be proud. Bravo.
All the Best,
Scott and Kathryn Dickinson, October 22, 2018
We were lucky to sit in the front row at yesterday's Highland Park Strings Concert. We were able to watch your fingers fly from one end of the Steinway to the other; your performance was fantastic! Your outfit was gorgeous and you looked as beautiful as your performance. Thank you for such a wonderful Sunday afternoon.
Caroline and Ron Siegel, October 22, 2018
The Concert today was beyond spectacular. LOVED every piece. I had a perfect seat where I could watch Susan playing. She blew me away. That's one of my favorite concertos....
Audience member, October 21, 2018
Carnegie Hall Winners Concert- 2015
"The concert at Carnegie Hall was just plain incredible. I never heard the Porgy and Bess variations by Igor Frolov and so amazing and fresh. The piece stands in it's own right in the same league as other major violin variation works. To play it you need amazing control and skill from both the violinist David Yonan and the accompanist-the wonderful pianist Susan Merdingerand that both artists really have. But beyond the technical aspect, there was music and soul that shone through. I am glad I went to the concert and glad I got to hear and meet the artists! Congrats!!!"
Danny Flam, Member, National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences (New York, 9/2015) , Former member, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
"The standing ovation you received was richly deserved"
Dear Susan, We thank you so much for your performance at the United Home last Wednesday. What pleasure you brought! Your skill as a pianist is matched by your charm and warmth. The rapport you established with your audience was immediate. The Standing ovation you received was richly deserved. Good luck in your upcoming Carnegie Hall concert. I hope you'll play for us again soon! Sincerely,
Zelda Reeber, Director, United Home for the Aged Hebrews, New Rochelle, NY
"All of us were mesmerized"
Dear Susan, Congratulations on the wonderful piano recital you offered our community here at the library on February 26th. Many in the audience left with glowing remarks about your performance. Sometimes I wish i coudl tape record the audience's reaction to share with a performer. One quote I remember was an enthusiastic, " She's definitely a professional". Be assured you left everyone with a lovely impression of Haydn and Beethoven and all of us were mesmerized by your playing of the Prokofieff Seventh Sonata. Again, many thanks and best of luck in a very promising future!
Demita Gerber, Program Coordinator, White Plains Public Library, NY. March 14, 1984
"You brought great joy and happiness to all"
Dear Susan, On behalf of all of the participants of the YMCA's Chautauqua Seminar on the Arts, may I express to you our deep appreciation for your excellent performances on various occasions at Chautauqua. We especially value the warmth of your personality and your concern fgor individual human beings as well as for national and international affairs. We definitely shall keep you in mind for the future and shall get in touch with you at a later date regarding the possibility of performing in various cities, such as Chicago, New York and others, as well as at our Conference Centers in Silver Bay, NY, Black Mountain, NC, and Estes Park, CO. You brought great joy and happiness to all of us through you beautiful art and gracious and intelligent perosnality. We wish you lots of success in your further studies at Yale University- please remember you have many new friends. With warm greetings to you and your parents,
Nicholas Goncharoff, Director of Special Programs, YMCA of the USA.
"It gives me great pleasure to recommend this outstanding talent"
Having been Susan Merdinger's teacher during her formative years , ages 12-18, it gives me great pleasure to recommend this outstanding talent who, in my opinion, can look forward to an outstanding career.
Susan Merdinger combines great intelligence and technical prowess with determination, stamina, and drive- qualities indispensable for a performer's career. Happily, in her case, brilliance is counter-balanced by sensitivity, power alternates with grace.
Her progress as a young student was surprisingly rapid and always exceeded expectations. Her recent Weill Recital Hall recital proved to me that this development continued and even accelerated as she grew into msturity seldom seen at her age.
Michael Pollon, Director Emeritus, Westchester Conservatory of Music, White Plains, NY, May 26, 1987