Dana Muller and Gary Steigerwalt have performed as duo pianists for more than three decades, creating programs that encompass the historical and stylistic gamut of the piano four-hand genre. As recitalists, they have performed extensively in the United States, South America and Scotland. Festival appearances range from presenting Beethoven’s complete four-hand works at the Beethoven Festival, Oyster Bay, Long Island, to performances at Bethlehem Musikfest (Pennsylvania), Music at Penn Alps (Maryland), and Sevenars Festival and Musicorda Festival (Massachusetts). They performed regularly as members of Wistaria Chamber Music Society and with other western Massachusetts performance organizations such as the Pioneer Valley Cappella (Brahms, Ein Deutsches Requiem). In 2018 they made their debut appearances with Mohawk Trail Concerts and Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. Orchestral appearances include Pennsylvania Sinfonia, Orchestra New England, Pioneer Valley Symphony, and Mesquite Symphony Orchestra (Texas).


Active as promoters of new music, the couple has premiered works by Lewis Spratlan (Dreamworlds), David Sanford (The Silent Hearth), Donald Wheelock (Mind Games), Daniel Asia (Iris), Matthew St. Laurent (Overture for a Lucid Dream), Fred Lerdahl (Quiet Music for two pianos), David Macbride (Still Awake, Steal Away), Anthony Burgess (Schnee in Savosa), and Jan Mul (Concerto for Piano Four-Hands and Chamber Orchestra, North American premiere).


The duo has recorded four compact discs for the Centaur label. Their recording of four-hand works by early twentieth-century European composers (Centaur CD 2127) was hailed “an outstanding disc” by Fanfare, and their album of nineteenth-century Romantic compositions by Anton Rubinstein, Josef Rheinberger and Frederick Shepherd Converse (CRC 2390) was praised for its "panache and conviction” by www.allmusic.com. Also released by Centaur are two volumes (CRC 2272 and 2305) devoted to the four-hand works of Franz Schubert, excerpts from which can be heard in the soundtrack of the critically acclaimed movie Good Will Hunting.


Muller and Steigerwalt appear at schools, universities, and before music teachers’ organizations, offering workshops, master classes and lecture-recitals on a variety of topics. For ten years they wrote program notes and presented pre-concert lectures for the Musicorda Festival on the campus of Mount Holyoke College.


Dr. Steigerwalt is Professor Emeritus of Mount Holyoke College where he taught on the music faculty from 1981 to 2016. Dr. Muller's teaching career encompasses institutional (University of Houston, University of Southern California, University of Hartford, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College) and private studio instruction (Berkeley, California; New York, New York; South Hadley, Massachusetts).


Photo credit: Molly Condit, Great Bear Media




Donald Wheelock, Irwin and Pauline Alper Glass Professor Emeritus of Music at Smith College, has a long career as composer and teacher. Works include six string quartets (Nos. 3 & 4 on Albany Records), solo instrument pieces, song cycles, and larger ensemble and orchestral works. Mind Games, his most recent composition, is one of many for piano, including an ambitious set of Piano Variations, 2007 (Judith Gordon, Albany Records); Suite for the Piano, 1971 (Jeffrey Jacob, New Ariel Recordings); two Elegies (premiered 1980, Monica Jakuc; 1984, John Van Buskirk); A Circular Suite, 1984 (miniatures for younger players); Impromptu, 1992 (commissioned for a Connecticut youth competition); Sonata in One Movement, 1998 (premiered by Deborah Gilwood); Minute Waltzes, 2012 (three tiny waltzes totaling a minute in duration, commissioned and premiered by Judith Gordon), and Subject to Change, 2011 (chromatic fugue for piano four- hands). Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, 2014, is yet to be performed.


Awards include first prize in a Hartford Symphony competition, an NEA fellowship, and two Guggenheim grants. Works can be heard on Albany, Harmonia Mundi and New Ariel recordings. Available through the composer are recordings of three sonatas for solo strings (violin, viola and cello, each with piano) for Gasparo Records (now defunct).



Lewis Spratlan, recipient of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in music and the $35,000 Charles Ives Opera Award (2016) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was born in 1940 in Miami, Florida. His music, often praised for its dramatic impact and vivid scoring, is performed regularly throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Yale University, where he studied with Mel Powell and Gunther Schuller. From 1970 until his retirement in 2006 he served on


the music faculty of Amherst College, and also has taught and conducted at Penn State University, Tanglewood, and the Yale Summer School of Music. The recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Composition, as well as Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Bogliasco, NEA, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and MacDowell Fellowships, Spratlan toured Russia and Armenia in 1989 as a guest of the Soviet Composers’ Union during which time Apollo and Daphne Variations for orchestra was premiered, and Penelope’s Knees, double concerto for alto saxophone and bass, was presented in Moscow’s Rachmaninoff Hall under Emin Khatchatourian.


Recent commissions include Earthrise (one-act opera, libretto by Constance Congdon, San Francisco Opera); Streaming (piano quartet, Ravinia Festival for its centennial celebration); Sojourner (ten players, Koussevitzky Music Foundation for Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble); Zoom (chamber orchestra, the New York ensemble Sequitur); Wonderer (solo piano, Borletti-Buitoni Trust for Jonathan Biss); Shadow (solo cello, Matt Haimovitz); Shining: Double Concerto for Cello and Piano (Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O'Riley); Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra (consortium commission by thirty saxophonists across the country); A Summer’s Day (Boston Modern Orchestra Project).


Life is a Dream, libretto by James Maraniss after Calderón’s La vida es sueño, received its world premiere by the Santa Fe Opera in 2010, Leonard Slatkin conducting. Hesperus is Phosphorus, commissioned by the Crossing Choir and Philadelphia’s Network for New Music, received performances in Philadelphia and New York in 2012, and was released by Innova. Architect, chamber opera based on the life and work of architect Louis Kahn, was released by Navona Records on a CD/enhanced DVD. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project released a CD of A Summer's Day, Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra, and Apollo and Daphne Variations. Of War (large chorus and orchestra) premiered at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Andrew Megill conductor (2015). Nadia Shpachenko premiered Bangladesh (solo piano, commissioned by Piano Spheres) at REDCAT, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles (2015). Common Ground (soloists, chorus, and chamber orchestra, component of Crossing Choir’s “Seven Responses” Initiative) was premiered by Crossing Choir and ICE at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral and repeated in New York as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival (2016).


Spratlan recently completed his fourth opera, Midi, a black French-Caribbean Medea, ca. 1930. Brooklyn's Bargemusic presented an all-Spratlan concert including Six Preludes for Piano, Piano Quartet No. 2, and Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano as part of their Music Now series in 2017. His recorded works may be heard on the labels of Opus One Records, Gasparo, Albany, Koch International Classic, Oxingale, Navona, BMOP, Innova


Photo credit: Gigi Kaeser



John LaMontaine (1920-2013), born in Oak Park, Illinois, studied composition with Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, earning his Bachelor of Music degree in 1942. Working privately with Rudolf Ganz while serving in the U.S. Navy (1942-1946), he completed studies with Bernard Wagenaar at the Juilliard School and Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. A gifted pianist, LaMontaine was selected by audition in 1950 to play piano and celesta in the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini until the conductor’s retirement in 1954.


The late 1950’s were financially precarious for LaMontaine, despite a commission from the Ford Foundation (1958) to complete a piano concerto begun a decade earlier. Earning barely adequate income from composing and accompanying opera singers, he considered a career in finance, taking courses to become a stockbroker in 1959. In the same week he learned that he passed the New York State licensure exam with a score of 97 per cent, that his freshly completed concerto had won the 1959 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and that he was to receive his first Guggenheim Fellowship. Premiered by Jorge Bolet and the National Symphony Orchestra, the Piano Concerto No. 1 “In Time of War”, Op. 9, sparked a succession of commissions that sustained LaMontaine’s career.


Choosing to compose full-time rather than assume a permanent position in music teaching or administration, LaMontaine told an interviewer in 1984, “Part-time composers risk writing part-time music” and added that the downside of the path he selected was living most of his life below the national poverty level. Still, he managed to fulfill brief teaching appointments at institutions such as the Eastman School, University of Utah, North Texas State University, and Whittier College and served as composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome.


LaMontaine’s catalogue includes symphonic, chamber ensemble, ballet, opera, choral and solo instrumental works. By his own admission, he was a prolific but slow worker, usually taking two or three years to complete major compositions such as the Christmas Trilogy (1961-1969), three pageants commissioned by and premiered in Washington Cathedral, and Be Glad then America, Op. 43 (1974-1976), an opera sponsored by Penn State's Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies to celebrate the United States Bicentennial. Other major works were performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, and Pittsburgh Symphony.


In the mid-1960’s and again in 1994, LaMontaine traversed Africa, recording songs of native birds, attempting to decipher their complex melodies and rhythms. Regarding the music of birds as “a tapestry of sound, the counterpoint of nature”, he incorporated ornithological melodies into his compositions, most notably Birds of Paradise, Op. 34 (1964, piano and orchestra), later choreographed as Nightwings by Gerald Arpino for the Joffrey Ballet; Mass of Nature, Op. 37 (1968, chorus and orchestra); and Wilderness Journal, Op. 41 (1970, a symphony combining orchestra, organ, and bass-baritone soloist singing texts of Thoreau).



Daniel Asia has been an eclectic and unique composer from the start. He recently received a Music Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has received grants from Meet the Composer, a UK Fulbright award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, MacDowell and Tanglewood fellowships, a DAAD Fellowship, Copland Fund grants, the NEA (four times) and Koussevitsky Foundation, the Fromm Foundation, and numerous others. From 1991-1994 he was the "Meet The Composer" Composer-in-Residence of the Phoenix Symphony, and from 1977-1995 Music Director of the New York-based contemporary ensemble Musical Elements.


Asia’s five symphonies have received wide acclaim from live performance and their international recordings. Under a Barlow Endowment for Music grant, he wrote a work for The Czech Nonet, the longest continuously performing chamber ensemble on the planet. His recently completed opera, The Tin Angel, and Divine Madness: The Oratorio, are based on the eponymous books by Paul Pines, his collaborator of over thirty-five years.


Asia also is a conductor, educator, and writer. Professor of Music (Professor of Composition and head of the Composition Department) at the University of Arizona since 1988, he has been Coordinator of the UA Fred Fox School of Music American Culture and Ideas Initiative since its founding in 2008 and is


Director of the annual Music + Festival. His recorded works may be heard on the labels of Summit, New World, and Albany. For further information, visit www.danielasia.net.



Matthew St. Laurent is a Los Angeles-based film composer and pianist. A native of western Massachusetts, he has always been passionate about writing music. From an early age, he enjoyed creating his own endings to the classical pieces he was assigned by Dana and Gary—two of his first piano teachers.


At Berklee College of Music, he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in Film Scoring. Shortly thereafter, Matthew moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in TV and film music. Working with established composers and music production companies, he began contributing music for the hit animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He concurrently wrote additional music for several films and video games, including the highly successful reboot of the James Bond GoldenEye game. His music can also be heard on several seasons of Star Wars: Rebels.


Most recently, Matthew has worked as a producer and lead contributor to Noise Refinery, a boutique music company providing tracks for commercials, trailers, and TV productions all around the world. He also lends his talents to the score for Elena of Avalor, currently in its second season, for the Disney Channel. For further information, visit www.matthewstlaurent.com.




David Sanford, director of the contemporary big band the Pittsburgh Collective, has received commissions from the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Speculum Musicae, the Meridian Arts Ensemble, the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, Chamber Music America and the Barlow


Endowment. His works have been performed by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra under Kent Nagano, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra under Marin Alsop, the Detroit Symphony under Leslie Dunner, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players, among others. Honors include the Rome Prize, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Radcliffe Institute. He was the arranger for cellist Matt Haimovitz’s Grammy Award-nominated disc Meeting of the Spirits. With degrees in theory and composition from the University of Northern Colorado, New England Conservatory, and Princeton University, he currently is Elizabeth T. Kennan Professor of Music at Mount Holyoke College.


Photo credit: Tony Rinaldo





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