Michael Sheppard

piano, composer
An interpreter of great acclaim of operatic transcriptions and musical theater scores, Michael Sheppard today stands at a crossroads, spending large amounts of time writing as well as performing and teaching.  He has worked closely with fellow composers John Corigliano, Christopher Theofanidis, Michael Hersch, Robert Sirota and with the late Nicholas Maw, demonstrating a deep love of new music.  His catalogue of works now numbering in the dozens, will be published and marketed by a new entrepreneurial music publishing company soon.

    latest News
    Latest News 18. Jul 2014
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      For more reviews, visit Michael at
      REVIEW from
      Liszt Sonetto 104 del Petrarca

      Uploaded to YouTube on Nov 17, 2011

      From my recital last week at the University of Hawaii. One of my favorite Liszt pieces.

      Michael Sheppard
      Mad World Fantasy

      Published on YouTube on Mar 14, 2012

      Piano fantasy on the song "Mad World", by Tears for Fears. Based more on the version in the movie "Donnie Darko" than the original TFF version. Hope you enjoy it.

      P.S. That buzzing you may hear is from two paper clips, for a prepared-piano piece that had been rehearsed just before the concert, accidentally falling into the piano. We didn't have the proper tool to get them out in time. So there's buzzing. Yay. Anyway, it's barely detectable in the video, so I deemed it not sufficiently horrible enough to keep me from posting it. Also yay.

      Michael Sheppard
      Michael Sheppard
      Invitation to Travel
      A piece I wrote in 2006; performance is from February, 2010 in Indianapolis.  
      Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
      Performance for André Lousada's conducting recital at Peabody. Yours truly at the piano. While I had couple of *derp* moments, overall I think it holds up. The orchestra, it should be noted, while they did fabulously on very little rehearsal, is not a regular ensemble, but rather a pickup-group of Peabody students and friends; the conductors must martial their own forces for these recitals, so the results can be random. I think we all had a good time, though. Hope you enjoy it!  
       Indianapolis Star ,

      a virtuosic soloist possessed of power, sensitivity, earthiness, and humor.

      (Whitney Smith)
      REVIEW from
      Community Concerts at Second presents potent recital by pianist Michael Sheppard
      2014-11-26 The Baltimore Sun,

      " … Sheppard showed off his technical elan and interpretive breadth. … Sheppard's performance was notable especially for the tension and heightened lyricism he achieved in the finale; his superb control of the crescendo passages had a lot to do with that expressive force.

      … a potent, absorbing account of a venerable keyboard classic. 

      … The pianist sculpted the most tender variations of the second movement and the enigmatic finale with particular sensitivity.

      A prolific composer, Sheppard also added one of his own works to the mix, "Invitation to Travel" … a keen exploitation of the piano's coloristic possibilities. The performance was, of course, authoritative."

      (Tim Smith)
      REVIEW from 2014-11-26  
      Michael Sheppard
      2009-01-17 Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era (PA),
      " Soloist Michael Sheppard , a Philadelphia native who trained at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, joined the orchestra for Frédéric Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, composed in 1830. "Sheppard's performance of this mainstay of the repertory was a marvel of delicacy, almost crystalline in its glittering precision, yet warm with feeling and emotion. His style, not as assertive or forceful as some soloists, blended very well with that of the orchestra, achieving an unusual unanimity of approach. For an encore, Sheppard played his own improvisation on Harold Arlen's 'Over the Rainbow,' a delightful performance full of virtuoso runs and unexpected key and register shifts."
      (Elizabeth Patton)
      REVIEW from 2009-01-17  
       Fanfare Magazine ,
      " ...The record company Harmonia Mundi has a laudable track record when it comes to pinpointing young artists of real talent, and it would appear that Sheppard is another one of their bulls-eyes."
      (Colin Clarke)
      REVIEW from
      Liszt Ballade no. 2 in B minor
      From my recital in Orvis auditorium at the University of Hawaii (Honolulu) on 11/11/11. It's also one of my favorite Liszt pieces, and I'm happy with the way it turned out. Hope you enjoy it.  
      Fantasy on Themes from "Harry Potter" - world premiere!
      2011 Performance
      I began writing my Harry Potter fantasy back in 2004 or maybe even 2003. It isn't because of writer's block that it took so long to finish; it's just that I would put it on the back burner for weeks, months, and at one point even years at a time to focus on being a pianist! But whenever I would bring it out again, it would immediately transport me back into the magical world of Hogwarts and all of those friends' adventures.

      This, I think, is largely due to John Williams's irresistible main theme that is woven throughout the scores to all the movies, even the later sequels whose scores he didn't write himself. It's called "Hedwig's Theme" (named for the owl that is Harry's constant companion throughout), and is, for my money, one of JW's more successful tunes in a career of hugely successful tunes. This theme is the basis for my fantasy.

      It started out as almost -- and I say "almost" very pointedly, because there are also a few fun quotes from other, not unrelated, music -- a theme and variations, but then, at a certain point, I discovered that it wanted to go somewhere else; after a few variations, it seems to come to a kind of resting-place, where it wonders about the main material for a few measures, and then takes off in a flurry of other themes, some of which have been hinted at before. It builds to a huge climax using the "Family Portrait" material, which then abates a little and then builds up again into, yes: a fugue. (I had to.) The fugue uses all of the Harry-Potter-related material we've heard so far. Then this builds to an even bigger climax , where a surprise (and, again, not unrelated) theme gets aired for a few measures, but then it keeps going until it seems as if the very fabric of the universe gets ripped in half. Out of that mist creeps Hedwig's Theme in a haze of disorientation; after considering all that has come before, it comes down and touches ground again. Where it touches down is, of course, anyone's g 
       All Music Guide ,
      " power to make an audience sit up and pay attention...thought-provoking for performers and listeners alike."
      (James Manheim)
      REVIEW from