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World Class Pianist to Perform at Lodge

By Starved Rock Lodge | Aug 12, 2014

(Utica, IL) – The Great Hall of Starved Rock Lodge will be the setting for a piano concert in honor of the Lodge’s 75th Anniversary.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is set for Wednesday, August 13 at 6:00 p.m.

Opening the concert will be Miss Stephanie Bias, a pianist and student from LaSalle-Peru High School. Bias will perform “Sounds From Starved Rock Canyon,” which was composed by Josephine M. Boyle in 1913. Bias memorized and played this 8-minute work of art as a surprise for her grandmother’s 75th birthday. Her grandmother, Donna Ficek, traditionally played this piece to her daughters at family holidays in the 1970’s.

The premier pianist for the evening will be Michael Pecak, who was born in Chicago, IL and began playing the piano at the age of five. Since then, he has performed to great acclaim throughout the United States and Europe. At fourteen, Pecak appeared as soloist with the Paderewski Symphony Orchestra and was awarded its “Youth Music Award”. Over the years Michael has won awards from such organizations as the ISMTA (Illinois State Music Teachers Association), the North Shore Musicians Club Scholarship, the Polish Arts Club Scholarship, the Chicago Chopin Society, and the Kosciuszko Foundation. As a laureate of the prestigious Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition in New York City, Michael earned special recognition for his performances of works by K. Szymanowski and F. Chopin.

Pecak earned his Bachelor of Music Degree from Northwestern University where he majored in both Piano Performance and Orchestral Conducting. As a scholarship student at Northwestern, he studied piano with Alan Chow, conducting with Victor Yampolsky, and chamber music with Elizabeth Buccheri. During the 2008-2009 academic year, Pecak was a Fulbright Scholar at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, Poland. The focus of his studies was the music of 20th and 21st Century Polish composers. In 2012, Michael earned his Master’s Degree in Piano Performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where he studied with legendary pianist Andre Watts. While at Indiana, Michael was also an Associate Instructor of Piano and was named an Artist-in-Residence at the Polish Studies Center of Indiana University.

In addition to the modern piano, early keyboard instruments and historical performance practices have been important pursuits for Pecak. An accomplished fortepianist and harpsichordist, he received a scholarship from Early Music America to participate in the 2012 Vancouver Early Music Festival and has also won the Bechtel Award for Young Keyboardists from the Historical Keyboard Society of North America. In 2012 - 2013 Pecak received a Fellowship from Cornell University where he completed a concentrated year of study of the fortepiano with Malcolm Bilson. Currently, Pecak is pursuing a Doctorate in Music in fortepiano and historical performance practices at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.