'Improvisation for classical pianists' presented by Moira Lo Bianco

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Michiko Rehearsal Studios

149 W 46th St

New York, NY 10036

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Moira graduated in Classical Piano Performance at F. Torrefranca Conservatory in Italy in 2004.
Soonafter, she undertook graduate studies at The University of Tor Vergata and completed her
Bachelor of Arts with an Ethnomusicology thesis on Calabrian folk music and its traditions.
Under the tutelage of Oscar award-winning composer Luis Bacalov, Moira studied film
scoring at Siena's Accademia Chigiana. Looking to develop her ability as a pianist, composer and
arranger, she received a scholarship to pursue further studies at Berklee College of Music and
graduated in 2012. Moira currently sits on the Piano Faculty at Berklee, where she also
founded The Equinox Music Festival and co-directed it with Stephany Tiernan. Recently, she
received the Berklee Faculty Fellowship Grant that allowed her to study the music of Brazilian
pianist and composer Francisca ‘Chiquinha’ Gonzaga.

Moira has recorded for Steinway Spirio and her solo album ‘Imago’ was released in March
2016, produced by Steinway & Sons label (Naxos distribution). In 2013 she released her debut
album ‘Lunaria’, featuring Bruno Raberg on double bass and Marcello Pellitteri on drums.
She also had the chance to start a workshop series called Improvisation for Classical
Pianists, focusing on the element of improvisation in classical music. She has enjoyed
collaborations with oud and violin virtuoso Simon Shaheen, Global Jazz Institute director
Marco Pignataro, Grammy award winning clarinetist Kinan Azmeh (Silk Road Ensemble),
among many others. She counts numerous performances between festivals (Villa Celimontana
Festival, Newport Jazz Festival) concert halls (Steinway Hall, Bohemian National Hall, Berklee
Performance Center), cultural spaces (Institute of Contemporary Art, French Cultural Center, Goethe
Institut, Italian Cultural Center, Shapshifter Lab) and clubs (Regatta Bar, Ryles, Zinc Bar, Rockwood
Music Hall, Cornelia Street Café).

Moira is a Steinway Artist and a Steinway Educational Partner.

Description As a classically- trained pianist, I want to share the idea that improvisation dates back centuries and belongs to the classical tradition. My goal is for students to revisit the classical repertoire, understanding composers’ historical context and style. We will develop ear training exercises useful for analyzing composition, creating progressions and voicing on the piano, and developing piano solo techniques. Students will acquire the necessary tools to create their own improvisations using classical compositions as source materials and eventually write original compositions that can freely re- invent a classical composition. I aspire to offer students this genre as a source of inspiration that is useful, exciting and enriching outside of the classical and traditional context.

Course Objective The first weeks will be structured around the study of musical forms with improvisation, improvisation techniques and classical composers including J.S. Bach, F. Chopin, E. Satie, I. Albeniz and B. Bartok. For each composer, will cover historical context, ear training and composition analysis and the learning of improvisational tools. We will also explore composers from students’ home countries, and the impact of native folk on the classical genre. Students will explore the similarities and differences between composers’ styles. Last part of the course will be dedicated to students’ original compositions. The goal is to offer examples of the range and personality, creativity and diversity among composers’ styles – inspiration for students as they create their own original improvisations and compositions.

January 18th - Lesson 1

  • Presentation of the course
  • Improvisation in Classical Music (historical references and listening examples)

January 25th - Lesson 2

  • Exploring 3 Improvisation Techniques: paraphrase, creation of original melodies, free form improvisation

February 1st - Lesson 3

  • Musical forms with improvisation- Preludes (analysis, listening examples and homework assignment)

February 8th - Lesson 4

  • Johann Sebastian Bach’s inventions (analysis and ear training exercises)
  • Introduction to the Art of Counterpoint and Imitation technique (homework assignment)

February 15th - Lesson 5

  • Figured Bass – Basso Continuo (analysis, comparison with chords symbols notation, homework assignment)

February 22nd - Lesson 6

  • The Piano Music of Frederic Chopin (listening examples)
  • The influence of Polish folk Music in Chopin’s work
  • Chopin’s 24 Preludes, op.28 (analysis and listening)

March 1st - Lesson 7

  • Analysis of melodic paraphrasing in Chopin’s work
  • Developing ear training exercises useful for composition analysis, creating progressions and voicing on the piano, and developing piano solo techniques (homework assignment)
  • Arrangement of one of 24 Preludes, op.28 (homework assignment)

March 8th - Lesson 8

  • The impact of folk music on classical composers
  • The music of Bela Bartok, Isaac Albeniz, Erik Satie

March 15th - Lesson 9

  • Improvising on progressions and scales included in Bartok’s, Albeniz’s and Satie’s work (homework assignment)
  • Write and original composition, including Bartok’s, Albeniz’s and Satie’s elements (homework assignment)

March 22nd - Lesson 10

  • Exploring composers from students’ home countries (analysis, listening examples and homework assignment)

March 29th - Lesson 11


  • Students will perform a classical composition of their choice
  • Briefly discuss historical context of the work, analyzing the composition by examining rhythm, harmony, melody, style, form, etc.

April 5th - Lesson 12 & 13


  • Creating arrangements of a classical composition, including improvisation. Exploring concepts of paraphrase, creation of original melodies, and freeform improvisation

April 12th - Lesson 14 & 15


  • Students will write an original composition, including improvisation. Students’ pieces can freely re- interpret a classical composition, reinvent a piece, or simply communicate students’ memory of a classical composition

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Michiko Rehearsal Studios

149 W 46th St

New York, NY 10036

View Map

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Refunds up to 7 days before event

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