Today’s featured faculty is pianist Robert Weirich
Robert Weirich begins an exciting new time in his career, having retired from his twenty-year position as the first Jack Strandberg Missouri Endowed Chair in Piano at the UMKC Conservatory. He has performed in Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and at such summer festivals as Tanglewood, Ravinia and Marlboro, but now looks forward to a deeper connection to music as a unique means of communication.
The New York Times called his 2008 Albany Records release, Piano Music of Aaron Copland, “brilliant, probing and austerely beautiful.” Recent concerto performances include the Stravinsky Concerto for Piano and Winds, Beethoven’s Third and Emperor Concerto, Bartok’s Second Piano Concerto, and Berg’s Kammerkonzert for piano, violin and thirteen winds. His performance of Dohnanyi’s Variations on a Nursery Tune at the new Helzberg Hall was enjoyed by a sold-out audience. His solo repertoire ranges from Bach to works by living composers. An early success was his prize in the first Rockefeller Foundation Competition for the Performance of American Music.
An active chamber musician, Weirich has performed with violinists Hilary Hahn, Arnold Steinhardt and Josef Gingold, cellists Nathaniel Rosen, Colin Carr, and Stephen Doane, hornists William Vermeulen and Eric Ruske, the Cassatt and Whitman String Quartets, to name only a few. When still a student at Yale, he was invited by the noted soprano Phyllis Curtin to accompany her in several recitals, including one at the White House.
He was the Artistic Director of the Skaneateles Festival in upstate New York from 1990-1999; during that time attendance tripled and support grew twofold while winning three Adventurous Programming Awards from Chamber Music America/ASCAP. Other administrative activity included serving as Associate Dean for Strategic Planning at UMKC, a term as President of the College Music Society, and chairing piano departments wherever he has taught. His columns for Clavier Magazine, and its successor, Clavier Companion, have been twice honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Educational Press Association. As a sometimes composer, his works have been performed at festivals nationwide; Steamboat Stomp (for horn and piano) won first prize in the Britten-on-the-Bay Competition and his song, My Brother Dances, won second prize in the Diana Barnhart American Song Competition.
As a teacher, Weirich is justifiably proud of his students, who regularly won major competitions (Awadagin Pratt in the 1992 Naumburg; Stanislav Ioudenitch in the 2001 Van Cliburn), hold university positions throughout the country, and challenged him on a daily basis in the studio. UMKC awarded him a Trustees’ Faculty Fellowship and the N.T. Veatch Prize for distinguished research and creative activity in 2002; he received the first Muriel McBrien Kauffman Artistry/Scholarship Award in 2003, and an Excellence in Teaching Award from the UMKC Faculty Senate in 2006. In 2014 he was awarded the Kauffman Outstanding Teacher of the Year award at UMKC. Earlier prizes include a National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Fellowship, and the Pope Foundation Award for career development. His master classes, presented internationally, are warmly applauded for their insight and effectiveness. During the 2009-2010 season, he performed and taught in China and Argentina, returning to Beijing’s Central Conservatory for ten days of chamber music coaching in the fall of 2013. He has previously taught at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Northwestern University, and the Eastern Music Festival. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University and was awarded their Distinguished Alumni Award in 1989.