Israeli musician Michal Schmidt has been a double major instrumentalist throughout her career. She studied in Rubin Music Academy in Tel Aviv, Israel, the Royal Academy in London, England and in the US at the Curtis Institute, University of the Arts and Temple University. Her cello teachers included Uzi Wiezel, David Soyer, Lorne Monroe and Jeffrey Solow. Under Mr. Solow’s tutelage, Michal received her doctorate degree in music at Temple University, centering her dissertation on the cello sonatas of Beethoven. For that project Michal recorded two of the sonatas playing both the cello and piano parts. (See http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mschmidt )
Ms. Schmidt has participated in numerous master classes and festivals where she studied with members of the Guarneri Quartet, cellists Lynn Harrell, William Pleeth, Mischa Maisky and others.
In the summers Michal is active in numerous festivals, including Summer-Trios, the Maine Chamber Music Workshop and Lake Forest Chamber Music Seminar. Michal was on the faculty at Dickinson College as cellist and chamber music coordinator from 2000-2008. She is currently an adjunct cello instructor at the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College. www.michalschmidt.com
Laura Ward has been gracing Philadelphia audiences with her powerful, sensitive and insightful accompanying since arriving here in 1998. As one of the three Co-founding Artistic Directors of Lyric Fest, www.lyricfest.org, Laura’s aspiration to revive and invigorate the art song recital proved pivotal in the genesis of the festival. She continues to define and direct its work, bringing itsperformances to new levels.
Laura’s impressive pianistic talent and vast knowledge of song repertoire has made her a highly valued collaborator, who is sought after by a wide spectrum of highly skilled singers, regionally and internationally. She has been a vocal coach andcollaborative pianist at Washington Opera, The Academy of Vocal Arts, The Ravinia Festival, The Music Academy of the West, the Blossom Festival, the University of Maryland, and Temple University. She has also been the official pianist for the Washington International competition for singers and the Marian Anderson Award. She has performed at several international music festivals such as the Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy and at the Colmar International Music Festival and Saint Denis Festival in France. Laura collaborates regularly with many acclaimed artists including Denyce Graves and Randall Scarlata.
A native of Texas, Laura received her Bachelor of Music degree from Baylor University, Master of Music degree in Piano Accompanying at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Accompanying from the University of Michigan where she was a student of Martin Katz. There she played with the Contemporary Directions, the modern music ensemble, and on occasion with the Ann Arbor Symphony. After the completion of her doctorate she began a long collaboration with the Hal Leonard Corporation. She is the editor of many volumes including, Songs of Richard Strauss, Songs of Gabriel Fauré, and Songs of Johannes Brahms. She has also recorded numerous accompaniment CDs for the Hal Leonard Vocal Library Collections, totaling well over 2,000 songs and arias.