“Ilona is a true music lover… a musical warrior working in the trenches to create new avenues for fan and artist to come together. Ilona has earned respect and admiration for her work in the New York music scene to create a new kind of intimate artist/fan concert experience. We share a common vision with Ilona in her desire to bring artists and fans closer. We salute Ilona Oltuski… a true piano lover dedicated to making a difference Bravo!”

Richard WatermanReal Piano Music.com


Born in Berlin and growing up in Frankfurt, Germany, Ilona was always interested in the creative fields of dance, music and the arts. Studying Art History at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University and piano at the Hoch’sche Conservatory, founded by Clara Schumann, culture and its historic and current correlation with society were at the core of her investigative efforts for the Historic Museum and the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt. Her dissertation on the Bezalel School in Jerusalem, was published as the first publication of its kind on Jewish Art, as part of the University’s press series. After moving to New York with her husband, Ilona continued to pursue the piano, her favorite instrument, and in doing so met and befriended many pianists ranging from various levels of amateur to professional players. Through conversations with these musicians, Ilona – a passionate amateur herself – made her reentry into the writing world by sharing her experiences, quest, and lust for piano playing with the public, and composed her first articles on blogcritics.org . (Since 2008) Soon thereafter, Ilona started her English blog ‘GetClassical’ and her German blog, ‘Wohltemperiert aus New York,’ and began writing for Naxos Deutschland, and various online publications including Classical Post, as well as the contemporary outfit Sequenza21. Ilona has also written for Listen Magazine, Jűdische Allgemeine Zeitung and for the German PianoNews Magazine; her article on pianist Inon Barnatan was published in a collection of articles in Staccato Verlag’s “Gespräche mit Pianisten” in 2017. Her blog was selected “as blog of the month” by Gramophone. Her article on the Taubman Technique was featured as a special guest post on Jessica Duchen’s famed London based blog site and her many profiles of artists reside on their respective sites.

Since 2018, Ilona was also chosen as a member of the jury at different piano competitions, the Piano School of New York City, the Tsai Performance Center Concerto Competition at Boston University, the Philadelphia based Young Pianists’ Academy and the George Gershwin International Competition.

Building alliances with international performers and talent agencies alike, GetClassical has further become synonymous with artist collaborations in salon-style concerts, with the intent to create a new audience base and fans for the young performers. Recognizing early on the magnetism of varied spaces for the classical genre, GetClassical has produced concert events in NYC since May 2012, with programmed and some surprise guest artists. Varied locations included events at the Gramercy Park Hotel’s Rose Bar, India House, Yamaha,  Louis Meisel Gallery, Le Poisson Rouge as well as a monthly classical music series at Zinc Bar. In 2019 events at Union Arts Center in Sparkill , St.John’s in the Village and its Revelation Gallery were added.


GetClassical is honored to have formed a partnership with the Vendome Prize at the Verbier Festival.





Finding GetClassical among the venerable Artistic Partners of the Vendome Prize is an outstanding and humbling endorsement and we are delighted to seek out opportunities for the chosen artists of the Vendome Prize, who would like to come to New York City to start building an audience base. Beyond a concert opportunity, GetClassical will aim to connect international guest artists within a social framework of colleagues and peers, and welcome the artists to the city that never sleeps, but also is easy to get lost in.

...music has long been trickling out of traditional concert halls
and into cooler, more contemporary watering holes. Hosted by the
music blog GetClassical, this concert series hits a sweet spot in the
art-filled Rose Bar {and other newly initiated concert venues] with a
feel that's downtown Manhattan by way of 19th century Paris salon...its 
variety show atmosphere is known to draw audience members to the stage.
And quite a variety show it can lead to, given that {some of} the last
installment's couches were filled with musicians ranging from arty
Juilliard students to Carnegie darling Evgeny Kissin. 
- Harper's Bazaar Hot List, June 2013








GetClassical  also embarks on a new passion project with GetClassical In School, bringing charismatic performing artists into the classroom and new audiences into the concert hall, through collaborations with concert series like Frank Salomon’s People’s Symphony Concerts, the Aspect Chamber Music Series and Eurasia Festival. These concert series will collaborate with GetClassical In School, to invite the classroom, visited beforehand by our artists, to their concert.

We have two school residencies, one at a private and one at a public school in NYC and we are coming to a school in your neighborhood soon.





Newsletter of our GetClassical In School performer, Irene Abrigo, announcing her school visit for GetClassical ahead of her Weill Recital Hall recital with the New York Chamber Orchestra.

(Photo: 16 Years old Ambassador for GIS, Adam Jackson and Concert Pianist Ching-Yun Hu ahead of her GetClassical Concert at the German Consulate General,  visit the Rabbi A.Schneier Park East Day School, Photo Credit: Overtone Productions)

GetClassical is a LLC in partnership with THE FIELD’s fiscal sponsorship for its related fund raising activities, offering Tax Deduction to interested sponsors.  All Activities for the new initiative GetClassical In School are non-for profit through this fiscal sponsorship. We count on your tax deductible support  –  please use the linked The Field button.

Please scroll down to the GIS section to read more about GetClassical In School and our Artistic and Pedagogical Advisory that includes NYC Performing Arts Education Advocate Rachel Shapiro, the Director of the Irving S.Gilmore International Keyboard and Awards, Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, and Conductor, Music Director and Distinguished Professor of Music, Gerard Schwarz, as well as the iconic pianist and pedagogue, mentor of superstar pianists and former Director of the Curtis Institute of Music, Gary Graffman.


Finding GetClassical among the venerable Artistic Partners of the Vendome Prize is an outstanding honor and we are delighted to seek out opportunities for the chosen artists of the Vendome Prize, who would like to come to New York City...
GetClassical In School is excited about the collaboration with Frank Salomon, Manager of Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, which will invite our school children, visited by extraordinary talent in the classroom, to their world class concerts. This is a unique opportunity to...

With a surge in concert offerings in the city that never sleeps, convoyed by less media coverage, audiences’ informed choices of which artist to follow and what performance to attend, are limited. GetClassical Recommends on Facebook seeks to fill that gap and help to spread the word and access (with discounted tickets) in support of new talent and concert series’ programs that are geared to live up to high expectations.


Concert pianist Ching-Yun Hu performs at the German Consulate General November 19th.  GALA CONCERT for GetClassical In School, in participation with chorus master Frank Mathis's children choir November 19th., 2019, at 6 PM  PLEASE REGISTER WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS HERE...
Cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach has been lauded by the press for the "gripping emotion" and "powerful artistry" of her interpretations, qualities which have led to a striking career including a wide range of artistic collaborations. She has appeared extensively in...

Get Classical in School

Many students are not exposed to the great classical music that is part of our heritage.

We believe passionately in this music and want to share our love of it with the next generation.

We bring charismatic, professional instrumentalists and singers, who are accomplished musicians and experienced educators to your school.

Through sharing our wonderful music, we teach collaboration, cultural history, and a taste of foreign languages, addressing the inherent elements of performing: mutual respect, self-confidence and emotional expressiveness.

We make classical music both educational and fun.

Ilona Oltuski/GetClassical and the initiative GetCassical In School is a sponsored artist with The Performance Zone Inc (dba The Field), a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization serving the performing arts community.

Contributions to The Field earmarked for Ilona Oltuski / Get Classical are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information about The Field, or for our national charities registration, contact: The Field, 75 Maiden Lane, Suite 906 New York, NY 10038, phone: 212-691-6969.


I salute Ilona’s initiative to introduce GetClassical In School, bringing classical music into the classroom. Sparking enthusiasm through personal encounters with charismatic performers will serve the next generation, bringing the joy of music into their lives.

- Evgeny KissinPianist

It gives me a great pleasure to support GetClassical in School. More than ever the world needs programs dedicated to development of arts and music in schools. Arts education process is universally recognized as one of the most valuable to children of all ages. I wish Ilona and GetClassical much success in this new and important endeavor.

- Philippe QuintViolinist

As a composer and manager at Naxos of America, I applaud Ilona Oltuski and her efforts to bring classical music to the genre’s future audience. Music education is central to what we do each and every day, and many arts organizations pay only a glancing acknowledgement of its importance. New York may boast a lot of wonderful things, but age-appropriate learning modules for the enjoyment of classical music – how it works, who are its practitioners – are largely missing...

- Sean HickeyComposer, Senior Vice-President, NAXOS OF AMERICA, INC.

“For me, being an artist has always been, above all, about communication. Ilona’s initiative to introduce GetClassical In School is a fantastic way to bring artists exactly where they ought to be; directly in the classroom exchanging ideas with future generations. I look forward to participating in GetClassical In School whenever possible!”

- Alisa WeilersteinCellist

“Music, more than any other art form, has the capacity to endow all of us, and especially young people, with the ability to transcend any challenges of present circumstance to conceive of – and ultimately attain – the brightest, happiest, most beautiful future of our dreams. I am honored to take part in GetClassical In School’s vital mission to foster inspiration that can broaden children’s horizons and propel them to achieve their full potential.” Yours with excitement, Jonathan DePeri

- Jonathan DePeriFounder and Artistic Director of Gotham Arts, Leadership Committee Member GetClassical In School

It is my pleasure to endorse Ilona Oltuski 's important initiative GetClassical In School. During my many years as an educator of young talent, I have seen firsthand how terrific it is to inspire youth to build a lifetime with music. With best wishes for continued success for you and GetClassical In School.

- Gary GraffmanPianist, Pedagogue, Pedagogical Advisory Board for GetClassical In School

Aspect Chamber Music series is very excited about the ‘GetClassical In School’ initiative. The mission of GetClassical is important to us - bringing great performers to the classroom will help foster children’s interest in music; inviting students to the concerts of performers they have met personally may forge a special connection and inspire children’s love for classical music. We are enthusiastic to work on developing opportunities for collaboration with GetClassical in the fall.

- Irina KnasterFounder & Artistic Director ASPECT Chamber Music Series

Dear Ilona, I wish you great success with your new project GetClassical In School and I am very happy to be included as an artistic advisor.

- Gerard SchwarzConductor, Educator, Artistic Advisory Board GetClassical In School

"I wholeheartedly support GetClassical In School's efforts as critical in our national drive to inspire the next generation of music lovers and enthusiasts. Childhood is an age of exploration and wonder, and I can't think of a better way to develop a child's curiosity than a hands-on approach such as this. Bravo, and I look forward to seeing this wonderful initiative develop!"

- Pierre Van Der WesthuizenDirector of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and Awards, Artistic Advisory Board GetClassical In School

"We in the Emerson String Quartet applaud the mission of GetClassical In School to bring great music to both public and private schools throughout the New York metropolitan area. Classical music has a well-proven beneficial effect on young people's intellectual, emotional and social development. In an era when arts education in public schools has undergone frequent budget cuts, and when the classical arts have a hard time competing with the massive commercial reach of popular culture, it's more important than...

- Emerson String QuartetString Quartet, Educators

What is GetClassical all about?


Ilona Oltuski has devoted herself tirelessly to broadening the audience for classical music by presenting exciting concerts in intimate, innovative New York venues. Her GetClassical series has featured established sought-after artists as well as emerging new talents. A prolific writer, she has spotlighted both prominent artists as well as anticipated stars of tomorrow in interesting interviews on her blog. llona's impeccable taste, comprehensive knowledge of music and strong contacts within the industry, has ensured success in her many endeavors. She...

- Edna LandauWriter, Consulting Educator, Artist Management

Among the best writers and interviewers proudly stands Ilona Oltuski and her GetClassical blog. She quickly gets to the point of an interview with her musical background and inquisitive mind. At the same time she offers a special and unique angle to any article she writes. Being interviewed by her is always a comfortable and inspiring process.

- Lucille Chung and Alessio BaxPianists

My manager and I loved your article and thought it was one of the best we have ever read. It's on my website now.

- Yuja WangPianist

I have had the great pleasure to see first hand the remarkable work Ilona does; presenting concerts, interviewing artists and writing about music. Her musical knowledge is extensive and her charm and brilliance are always apparent in her writing on musical subjects and her interaction with artists. She is very special in so many ways, but it is especially gratifying to have a real music lover producing concerts and reporting on music.

- Gerard SchwarzConductor, Educator, Producer

"It was such a pleasure talking to Ilona and having an interview that was as exhaustive and intelligent as it was readable and entertainingly written. Music journalism is becoming a rare art and it's nice to know it is in good hands."

- Inon BarnatanPianist

When I first became aware of Ilona Oltuski’s GetClassical series, I wondered if perhaps here was a kindred spirit. Now, as a frequent reader of her discerning journalism and a follower of her concerts, I am truly impressed with her devotion to musicians, her intelligent and informed writing, and her infectious enthusiasm. She is not only an ally in the arts, but also a role model.

- Natasha ChernyNatasha Cherny Founder and Co-President, The Drozdoff Society Producer, Impromptu! Classical Music Recital Series

Ilona, I was so happy with your exceptional article about Young Concert Artists.. You captured every iota of the spirit of the organization in an articulate and warm way. It is fun to come to your events too -\ off the beaten track and yet fully connected to the spirit of great music. All best Susan

- Susan WadsworthFounder, Director Young Concert Artists

We were thrilled to see Orpheus so accurately represented by GetClassical.org in Ilona’s wonderfully thorough and sensitively written blogpost. It’s rare to be interviewed by someone like Ilona—someone who comes in already intimately acquainted with the culture of Orpheus, an interviewer who “gets” what we do and whose questions come from a place of genuine curiosity about what we do—past, present and future. GetClassical.org is the perfect vehicle for the 21st century music lover and musician.

- Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
  • We had a blast on this inspirational encounter for #getclassicalinschool with #ireneabrigo and #albertcanosmit and kids at #stuyvesanthighschool
  • Honored beyond words ...
  • "Initiatives, like Ilona's GetClassical In School are essential today, more than ever, not only to ensure the future of classical music, but also to initiate and encourage an open dialogue through the only real universal language, the arts. Classical music in particular has the capability to inspire young people and serve as a role model for the ideal citizen: one with an independent voice but able and willing to work together with others for a greater goal. it is a logical and imperative step that a city as culturally vibrant and varied as New York, relies on classical music as part of a child's education and upbringing. “
Alessio Bax Pianist 
Photo: Marco Borggreve
  • “Congrats Ilona, this is a marvelous Initiative. Since I have joined the musical world, I have seen firsthand the joy in answering to the public’s need and to share this gift. GetClassical In School is an incredible opportunity to have kids inspired by truly passionate performers, who spread their love for the music and can fill kids’ hearts with that spirit in close encounters. I would love to partake whenever possible.” Rachid Bernal, Pianist
  • Very honored for all the endorsements by wonderful generous artists from around the world in support of #getclassicalinschool "Ilona’s  GetClassical in School is a fantastic project and I am happy to be part of it!
I have been supporting  a similar project Rhapsody in School all over Germany - it is an exiting experience to bring children and young people closer to classical music!
The young generation is extremely open-minded and appreciates the guidance with great enthusiasm and curiosity! This intense personal exchange between generations is of such a high value in our fast-moving digital world. With GetClassical in School the young generation has the unique chance to get closer to music in a direct and personal way, discovering new things for their soul and mind! Being an artist means sharing your emotions, feelings, life experience and knowledge with the people around you.
Get Classical in School is a great opportunity to put this mission into action!
Music was there for centuries, music will be there for centuries and music will always connect the world!“ Kirill Troussov, Violinist and Educator 
Photo: Marco Borggreve
  • Something different tonight ! Ian Bostrige is superb with Brad Mehldau in Songs by Mehldau and Schumann #bradmehldau #ianbostridge ##zankelhall #robertschumann
  • An amazing presentation as good will ambassadors for music education today by #JoshuaBell #AlessioBax at #KaufmanMusicCenter
  • "We in the Emerson String Quartet applaud the mission of GetClassical In School to bring great music to both public and private schools throughout the New York metropolitan area. Classical music has a well-proven beneficial effect on young people's intellectual, emotional and social development. In an era when arts education in public schools has undergone frequent budget cuts, and when the classical arts have a hard time competing with the massive commercial reach of popular culture, it's more important than ever to reach the hearts and minds of children who might otherwise have little or no exposure to this invaluable legacy."Emerson String Quartet

Concert pianist Ching-Yun Hu performs at the German Consulate General November 19th. 

GALA CONCERT for GetClassical In School, in participation with chorus master Frank Mathis’s children choir

November 19th., 2019, at 6 PM 










When:   Tuesday November 19th, 2019 at 6 PM (concert starts at 6.30 PM) please leave some time for security check

Where: German Consulate General
Otto-Carl-Kiep Auditorium
871 United Nations Plaza (1st.Avemue at 49th)
New York, NY 10017

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 6.00 PM
Admission is free, but an RSVP is required! registration from October 11th: https://get-classical.eventbrite.com



The German Consulate General of New York presents the concert for GetClassical In School’s mission: Inspired by the German based Rhapsody in School initiative, GetClassical In School brings charismatic performing artists to New York classrooms. Sparking the imagination and priming young students’ ears to classical music – through an utmost personal encounter – the class is then invited to attend a concert performance by the artist.

Founded by music journalist and concert curator Ilona Oltuski, GetClassical In School brings the successful concept to New York City, and beyond. This event offers a platform to kick off GetClassical In School efforts in support of classical music appreciation, connecting participating artists and educators.

GetClassical proudly presents the gifted pianist, 2008 Rubinstein competition winner and PYPA Festival founder/artistic director Ching-Yun Hu in concert. Frank Mathis, chorus master and the FFRCC Children Choir. Featured onstage interview with Jonathan Eifert, PR.,  introducing the artist and her participation with GetClassical In School.

Photo: Hilan Warshaw, Overtone Media LLC. School Visit at Rabbi Arthur
Schneier, Park East Day School. GetClassical In School 
Artist in Residency Program

Concert Program:                                                 

Schubert/Liszt Lieder transcription, Auf dem Wasser zu Singen
Schumann/Liszt Lieder transcription, Widmung  
Schubert/Liszt Lieder transcription, Erlkönig
Jeremy Gill (b. 1973, Harrisburg) Fantasie-Transcription: “Wie selig sind doch die” (*NY Premiere)
Alkan  Le festin d’Ésope (Aesop’s Feast), Op. 39 No. 12
Chopin Sonata No. 3 in b-flat minor, Op. 58 
GetClassical in School is a liaison between artists and schools. The concert at the German Consulate is a generous endorsement of GetClassical In School’s mission, supported by many of the finest international musicians and an artistic and pedagogical advisory board that includes the iconic pedagogue Gary Graffman, former Director of the Curtis Institute of Music, Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, Director of Gilmore Keyboard Festival and Awards and Gerard Schwarz, Artistic and Music Director, Palm Beach Symphony Distinguished Professor of Music, The Frost School of Music, among others.
“Ilona’s GetClassical is a very special platform for music lovers and musicians. You can always find out the latest highlights on the NY music scenes through her excellent articles. Her new efforts with GetClassical In School are tremendous. I have worked so beautifully with Ilona and am looking forward for more!”
Ching-Yun Hu, concert pianist, educator, festival director PYPA.


Read Ilona’s article on Ching-Yun Hu and her latest Rachmaninoff recording here.





Declared a “first-class talent” and praised for her “poetic use of color and confidently expressive phrasing” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), the distinguished Taiwanese-American pianist CHING-YUN HU is recognized and acclaimed worldwide for her dazzling technique, deeply probing musicality, and directly communicative performance style.

Ching-Yun Hu’s concert career has flourished with a host of engagements on five continents after winning the top prize at the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel-Aviv, Israel, where she was also awarded the Audience Favorite Prize. Immediately after, she was engaged for a seven-city tour across Israel and a special invitation from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on only a week’s notice. A year later, she won the Concert Artists Guild Competition in New York City.

Ching-Yun Hu’s 2018–2019 season highlights include performances in Philadelphia, Amsterdam, Beijing and Bogotá. She gave the Asia premiere of Red Cliff, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by Yiu-kwong Chung and the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan, following the concerto’s world premiere with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and Dirk Brosse. She is heard in return engagements with the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra in Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor. She returns to Colombia for a residence at the Festival Internacional de Piano en Ibaque. She also embarks on an eight-city tour of China–“Ching-Yun Hu’s Silk Road Project”. Ching-Yun Hu released her latest solo album,Ching-Yun Hu: Rachmaninoff in Spring of 2018. A collaboration with Philadelphia’s WRTI radio, her album received critical acclaims. The Pianist Magazine gave it “5 stars” and proclaimed it “essential listening for Rachmaninoff admirers.

A native of Taipei, Ms. Hu made her concerto debut at the age of 13 on a tour in Japan and Taiwan. One year later, she moved to the United States to continue her musical studies at The Juilliard School, working with Herbert Stessin. She worked with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and received additional guidance from Karl-Heinz Kaemmerling in Germany.
In addition to performing, Ms. Hu is a keen advocate for the promotion of classical music. She founded the Yun-Hsiang International Music Festival in Taipei in 2012, and the Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy (PYPA) in 2013. Now onto it’s 7th year, PYPA has blossomed into one of the most highly-anticipated summer piano festivals on the East Coast encompassing intensive master classes and public concerts featuring internationally celebrated pianists. The accompanying guest lecture series led by music industry executives offers insight to students and the local community.
Ching-Yun Hu serves on the piano faculty of the Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance at Philadelphia’s Temple University. She is a visiting professor at the Shenzhen Arts School and an honorary artist of the Henan Cultural Center in China. Ching-Yun Hu is a Steinway Artist. Full bio.
Music Journalist and concert curator Ilona Oltuski, Ph.D., was born in Berlin, grew up in Germany and lives in New York City, were she became an avid voice within the classical music scene. With the new initiative GetClassical In School, she builds a liaison between artists who will share their talent, expertise and enthusiasm through informal encounters and participating schools that want to spark their students’ interest and broaden their horizon. Building on the momentum of that initial overture in school, the students are invited to attend a formal concert performance of their artist; geared to heighten the experience and leave a lasting impression, despite the lack of sufficient music education in schools and appreciation for classical culture.

Cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach has been lauded by the press for the “gripping emotion” and “powerful artistry” of her interpretations, qualities which have led to a striking career including a wide range of artistic collaborations. She has appeared extensively in recitals and as a soloist with orchestras across the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America, with such conductors as Mstislav Rostropovich, James DePreist, and Peter Oundjian. As a sought-after chamber musician, Alexis Pia Gerlach has been a member of Trio Solisti since its inception in 2001. Noted Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout proclaimed the ensemble to be “the group that to my mind has now succeeded the Beaux Arts Trio as the outstanding chamber music ensemble of its kind,” and The New Yorker described it as “probably the finest American piano trio currently on the field.”

Trio Solisti, composed of violinist Maria Bachman, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, and pianist Fabio Bidini, performs in major venues and series across the United States. Highlights of the 2019-20 season include performances for The Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, Vancouver Friends of Chamber Music, Detroit and Buffalo Chamber Music Societies, many in return engagements, as well as exciting collaborations with guest artists and composers.


Meanwhile, Gerlach has also formed new collaborations, including a duo venture with the superb young American pianist Reed Tetzloff, “who enthralls audiences with his “magical tone” (The Cincinnati Enquirer), with whom she is giving several  duo performances in New York. This new partnership offers a different, perhaps more vulnerable side of the commanding cellist; with Tetzloff’s ultra-sensitive yet robust touch and distinct lyricism, the duo is a welcomed, new, and exciting formation.

“My first way of really connecting emotionally with music was dancing to it.”

In a conversation, she reminisces about how music came into her life and kept its ultimate place of artistic immediacy. As a little girl, Gerlach and her father John inspired one another’s love for classical music. “My dad and I would spend hours browsing together in the record store, building this enormous collection of historic and current performances of classical repertoire. My mom loved music as well, but it was particularly my dad who made it this substantial part of our life. The three of us went to lots of concerts together, and we usually went backstage afterwards to talk to the performers. Meeting and speaking with them gave me a real sense of them as human beings, in addition to the admiration and sometimes awe I felt towards them.” “My first way of really connecting emotionally with music was dancing to it.” She describes early memories of “coming home after ballet class and dancing for hours in the living room to records blasting from my dad’s enormous Klipschorn speakers, and my parents moving all the furniture against the walls to make space for me.”

Tri-Institutional Noon Recitals, a series of weekly concerts held in the 450-seat Caspary Auditorium at The Rockefeller University in New York City, was founded by biophysicist Alexander Mauro in 1986 and co-directed by neurobiologist John Gerlach from its inception.  John was an active musician in his youth, studying double bass with the principal bassist of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and himself performed with the St. Louis Philharmonic for several years; he also learned piano as a pre-teen.  Since Dr. Mauro’s death in 1989, John has been the Tri-I Noon Recitals Series’ sole director.


“One day, at the beginning of a hiking trip in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, my parents asked me if I wanted to start learning an instrument and without any hesitation I answered, yes! The cello.” At the age of seven, Gerlach began studying cello at her school with Nancy Streetman, and soon also at the pre-college division of the Manhattan School of Music. “I loved playing the cello immediately, and I was very proud of it. I remember that on days that I brought my cello to school, my mom would sometimes help me carry it in the morning. But as soon as we got close to school, I insisted on carrying it myself, for everyone to see!”


“Growing up, even though I was serious about playing the cello and loved it, I wasn’t focused at all on what might come after being a student. I was really doing it for right then, not in preparation for something later in life. I remember being kind of surprised hearing my friends at MSM talk as though their music was all preparation for being professional, rather than its being valuable for the experience they were having right then. I was perhaps fifteen when my teacher took me to play for the famous cellist Zara Nelsova, who asked my thoughts about my future career. She laughed really hard when I told her I had not given it much thought, and I hadn’t even decided whether I wanted to be a professional musician.”

“I identify deeply with this emphasis on feeling – for me, the entire ability to play comes from an emotional impulse.”

When it was time to make up her mind, it was personal inspiration that stood out. During her last year of high school, Alexis studied with Aldo Parisot. “I was very lucky that he invited me to study with him at Yale, where he arranged for me to get a full scholarship,” she says. “I later followed him to the Juilliard School, and ended up working with him for nine years in all.” While it’s not necessarily the usual situation, and many students switch teachers often looking for a variety of approaches, there is something to be said for sticking with one mentor over a long period of time. “His music making was very instinctual,” describes Alexis, “and full of feeling. The biggest sin was to play without saying anything. The focus of his work with me was to get inside the emotion of the music and to communicate it with imagination and purpose. In lessons he would often conduct me, sometimes dancing around me to illustrate the musical gestures. He would at times demonstrate on the cello, but more often he’d sing… but he always encouraged colorful and personal interpretations.” She explains: “I identify deeply with this emphasis on feeling – for me, the entire ability to play comes from an emotional impulse.”


This emotional connection was to dominate her musical choices and partnerships throughout her busy career. “I require that— an emotional connection to the music and my colleagues—to play my best,” she explains. There is no experience quite like making music together with someone with whom it really clicks. When you play with people who thrill you, and each person is sensitive and responsive to the others’ ideas and impulses, you are creating a conversation of emotional gestures. That’s powerful and delicious; I absolutely love it.” And she says: “Taking your cues from the gestures within the music is almost like dancing, to me.”

“In the trio we are constantly collaborating, but at the same time there is a fair amount of freedom for individuality.”

In Trio Solisti, which she co-founded in 2001, she found rich partnerships. When Italian pianist Fabio Bidini joined the trio in 2016, it was the resumption of a collaboration between him and Gerlach that had begun many years earlier as a duo and in a piano quartet. “Each combination of instruments brings its own possibilities,” Gerlach explains. “In a trio, the distance in range between the two string instruments allows them each room for independence, but they also have the ability to blend seamlessly. And the piano sounds almost orchestral, with its variety of colors and sheer scale of sound. In the trio we are constantly collaborating, but at the same time there is a fair amount of freedom for individuality. This is somewhat different perhaps from a string quartet, where all the instruments are so matched; while each voice can be distinct, I think there is a greater emphasis on blending and creating a group sound. I’ve always felt that in an all-string group, the cello can play a leading role by sculpting the bottom layer of the music, from which everything else then comes. In the trio I enjoy the variety of roles I play depending on the context, ranging from merging with the left hand of the piano to create the bass line of an early Haydn trio, to being a soloist opening the epic Tchaikovsky Piano Trio!”


Check out Trio Solisti’s performance schedule here.





After some impressive debut performances last season, New Yorkers can catch Alexis Pia Gerlach with Reed Tetzloff in eight recitals presented by Cherny Concert & Artist Management Ltd. in New Haven, Connecticut, Stamford, Connecticut, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, New York City, Rumson, New Jersey, and Princeton, New Jersey in their first full season beginning this November.  They will also be heard in a live on-air performance on WRTI, Philadelphia’s Classical Music Station, next May.

The date is still pending confirmation.