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Pianist shares his career-long interest with Polish composer Chopin

Howard County Times

When Columbia-bred pianist Brian Ganz plays an all-Chopin program, he has a lot of keyboard knowledge at his fingertips. That certainly will be the case when he performs for the Sundays at Three concert series on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 3 p.m., at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia.

Ganz, who is a regular performer in this series, will be playing the 19th-century Polish composer Frederic Chopin's Two Nocturnes, Op. 9; Twelve Etudes, Op. 10; Introduction and Variations on a German National Air, "Der Schweizerbub"; Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. Posth; Polonaise in G-sharp minor, Op. Posth.; and Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53, "Heroic."

Consideringthat there are around 250 works composed by Chopin, it is not difficult to put together an all-Chopin program. Indeed, this 56-year-old pianist has put together many suchprograms overthe years.

His career-long interest in the composer has evolved into a formalized game plan. In 2010, Ganz embarked on a 10-year project to play the complete works of Chopin with the National Philharmonic at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda. This project was initiated by the Polish-born Piotr Gajewski, who is the founder and director of the National Philharmonic.

The seventh concert in that particular series, "Chopin: Young Genius," will be given at Strathmore on Feb. 18, 2017.

Another testament to Ganz's Chopin expertise is that he was the artist-editor of the Schirmer Performance Edition of Chopin's Preludes in 2005.

That dedication to Chopin is an indication of how Ganz'sdedication to local cultural venues is a vital aspect of his overall career. The Takoma Park-born pianist moved to Columbia at age 9. A graduate of the Peabody Institute, where he studied with Leon Fleisher, his career got aboost when he was co-winner of the first grand prize at the 1989 Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud International Piano competition in Paris. Also gaining him attention was when he was the 1991 silver medalist with third prize inthe Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Piano competition.

Ganz has been on the Peabody Institute faculty since 2000. Another strong institutional tie is at St. Mary's College of Maryland. He has been associated with that liberal arts-oriented public college in southern Maryland since 1986, where he is an artist-in-residence and member of the piano faculty.

Living in the centrally-located Annapolis definitely has helped with the mileage in terms of getting to North Bethesda, Columbia, Baltimore and St. Mary's City.

As a performer, he has enjoyed numerous appearances both close to home and much further away. He has appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony, National Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic and City of London Sinfonia. Conductors with whom he has worked include Leonard Slatkin, Mstislav Rostropovich and Marin Alsop.

Ganz,who made his recording debut in 1992, also has an audio presence forthose who want to hear himin the comfort of their own homes.

All of this adds upto an intensely musical life. It'seasy to understand whyBrian Ganz especially likes a quotation by British writer Aldous Huxley: "After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."

Brian Ganz performs Sunday, Nov. 6, at 3 p.m., at Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia. Tickets are $15; free for those under 18 accompanied by an adult. Go to

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