Two new piano professors entertain with unique concert

Peter Klimo and Michael Krikorian in their Piano concert.

As the audience entered the Fresno State Concert Hall, they were witness to a rare sight – two Steinway grand pianos positioned as an interconnecting puzzle opposite each other with lids off exposing the golden soundboards inside the glossy black bodies.

Following the opening piece, new piano faculty Dr. Michael Krikorian and Dr. Peter Klimo emerged with conductor Dr. Thomas Loewenhiem and bowed to an applauding audience. Select members of the symphony orchestra stepped away for the performance of Mozart’s “Concerto in E-Flat Major for Two Pianos, K. 365” so the pianos could stand out with the remaining orchestra.

It’s unusual to see two pianos perform at the same time. Retired professor of piano Anreas Wertz was in attendance and said there had only been a couple of recitals during his tenure with a duo – none with an orchestra. Piano technician Terry Barrett, who worked on both instruments at the same time to get them sounding good together, said the same.

“I tune one piano first as well as I can,” said Barrett. “I roll the pianos close together keyboard to keyboard and play one note on the master tuning and then on the 2nd piano. This makes it possible to tune the pianos exactly together.”

“The first movement begins with a traditional orchestral exposition as it introduces the melodic themes for the movement,” Elton Chong wrote in the program notes for the concert. “The pianos soon enter unaccompanied as the pianos play off each other’s lines seamlessly with orchestral accompaniment throughout the movement.”

The sold out audience was enthralled by the performance and gave an extended standing ovation to the two newest faculty members in the Department of Music.

“It was a wonderful evening and felt like a very warm welcome to the community. I was further delighted to learn that we packed the hall!” Klimo said.

The Fresno State Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 2022-23 season with two new Department of Music piano faculty members Dr. Peter Klimo and Dr. Michael Krikorian on Saturday, Oct. 8.

The concert began with the orchestra performing Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide.” Among the most popular pieces for orchestras worldwide, the overture is the final movement in the 1956 operetta “Candide,” which many experts say is a glimpse into Bernstein’s later work. It also set the stage for the unique showpiece that would come next.

The second piece in the concert features two grand pianos, showcasing the talents of Klimo and Krikorian at the same with Mozart’s “Concerto in E-Flat Major for Two Pianos, K. 365,” a rare treat for classical music aficionados.

Finally, artist Viktor Hartmann was remembered in “Pictures at an Exhibition,” composed by Modest Mussorgsky and orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. The ten short movements end in a finale that brought the full power of the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra and another standing ovation.

“I’m very much looking forward to future performances here!” Klimo said. “If you thought a double concerto was exciting, and it is, on the next orchestra concerto November 19th we will be performing Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano. Would love to see you there!”

New Faces: Michael Krikorian
New Faces: Michael Krikorian

Dr. Michael Krikorian bio

Praised for his “intensity and precision” (Hye Sharzhoom) and hailed as a “star pianist” (Donald Munro, The Munro Review), Dr. Michael Krikorian is a Fresno-born pianist, composer, music educator, and scholar. He has won top prizes in numerous competitions and given acclaimed performances across the United States and Italy, France, Germany, South Korea, and China. Some recent performance highlights include recitals at the Conservatoire de Lyon in France and the Shanghai Oriental Art Center in China. Received by a “wildly appreciative audience” (Donald Munro, The Munro Review), his concert in the Philip Lorenz International Keyboard Concerts series was named one of the top 20 cultural events of 2019 in the Central San Joaquin Valley by The Munro Review. In 2018, he was a top prizewinner in the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, including the prize for “best performance of an opera transcription or paraphrase.” He holds degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Southern California (USC), the Manhattan School of Music, and California State University, Fresno.

Dr. Krikorian serves as Assistant Professor of Piano and Music Technology at his alma mater, California State University, Fresno. He has also taught at the USC Thornton School of Music and at the Concordia Summer Chamber Music Camp at Concordia University in Irvine, CA. In high demand as an adjudicator for festivals and competitions, Dr. Krikorian has served as a judge for the California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT), the University of Alabama Huntsville Piano Competition, the Image International Music Festival Competition, and the Artciál International Piano Competition.

Dr. Krikorian serves as the VP for Conferences and was recently appointed President-Elect of CAPMT. In the past, he served as the Chair of the Young Professional Leadership Network (YPLN), and as the South Regional Chair for the CAPMT Concerto Competition. He is also the co-founder of the SoCal International Piano Competition, which has drawn participants from across four continents. A charismatic speaker and scholar, he has been invited to present at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) National Conference, the CAPMT State Conference, and the MTNA Collegiate Chapters Piano Pedagogy Symposium.

In addition to performing and teaching, Dr. Krikorian composes music for the concert stage and visual media. His original score for The Fidelio Incident (Act 3 Games), a video game based on Beethoven’s opera, Fidelio, has been praised as “brilliant” (Evan Dickens, Adventure Gamers), “powerful” (James Paley, COGconnected), and a soundtrack that “effectively conveys the mood” (Joe Juba, Gameinformer). In July 2021, Dr. Krikorian taught as a guest artist in the CSU Summer Arts course titled The Art of Scoring for Video Games alongside Garry Schyman, Edouard Brenneisen, Jason Hayes, and Peter Scaturro.

New Faces: Peter Klimo (Music)
New Faces: Peter Klimo (Music)

Dr. Peter Klimo Bio

Hungarian-American pianist Peter Klimo has been studying piano since the age of nine. A Los Angeles native, he began his piano studies with Vicharini and Rosanna Marzaroli and continued with Dr. Tyler Tom while attending the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Klimo earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music studying with Dr. Nelita True, his Master’s Degree from the Yale School of Music studying with Peter Frankl, an Artist Diploma from Texas Christian University with Dr. Tamás Ungár, and his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music with Alan Chow.

Having participated in several international competitions, Klimo won 3rd prize at the 2019 Bartók World Piano Competition, 3rd prize at the 2019 Bösendorfer International Piano Competition, 2nd prize at the 2014 International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in Utrecht, as well as special prizes at the 2017 Maj Lind and 2014 Wideman International Piano Competitions.

Performance highlights in recent years include concerto performances in Budapest, Hungary, with Zsolt Hamar and the Hungarian National Philharmonic and with Gergely Ménesi and the Liszt Academy Symphony Orchestra; Phoenix, Arizona, with Matthew Kasper and the Phoenix Symphony; Seoul, South Korea with Hee-Chuhn Choi and the KBS Symphony Orchestra; Los Angeles, California with John Roscigno and the 52nd American Liszt Society Festival Orchestra; Columbus, Georgia with George del Gobbo and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

Also an avid chamber musician, Klimo has toured with violinist Tessa Lark in the US and Holland and with the Belenus Quartet in Austria and Holland. He performed Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., at Sprague Hall at the Yale School of Music with all members playing from memory, and at the Dakota Sky International Piano Festival. He most recently performed the work throughout Holland in 2016 with winners of the International Tromp Percussion Competition.

Passionate about education and sustaining the art form, Klimo has given masterclasses at Cal State University Northridge, Hardin Simmons University, at both Los Angeles and Orange County High Schools for the Arts, for the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic Society and the Steinway Society of Western Pennsylvania, and served as a faculty member for the 2013 inaugural year of the DBS Summer Music Festival in Hong Kong. He has been called to adjudicate competitions both local and international, has maintained a private studio in Los Angeles, and is Assistant Professor of Piano at California State University Fresno.

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Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

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