Greek concert pianist/conductor, Charis Dimaras, is gradually becoming recognized as one of the most individual and multi-faceted musical talents of his generation. Noted for his diverse activity as solo recitalist, vocal/instrumental chamber music collaborator, orchestra soloist and conductor of symphonic and operatic repertory, he is equally at home performing the music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, as he is presenting brand new works in their world-premieres. International critics have repeatedly hailed his virtuoso technique and refined musicality, while his exciting stage-presence has thrilled audiences around the world. Elsewhere, Dr. Dimaras remains strongly committed to the education of future generations of musicians: Since 1999 he has been a member of the Music Faculty at Ithaca College, where he is currently Associate Professor of Piano and Collaborative Studies. Additionally, in recent years he has repeatedly served on the faculties of many coveted, international summer programs, such as the University of Miami’s Summer Vocal Program in Salzburg/Austria, the Holland Summer Music Sessions and the Opera Theater Institute of famed Metropolitan Opera soprano, Johanna Meier, in Spearfish/SD.
Dr. Dimaras’ current season began with several Fall 08 collaborative recitals, including a program of Contemporary American Art Song at Ithaca College with guest artist, tenor, Paul Sperry, as well as a guest recital with mezzo-soprano, Leah Summers, at the Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church in Naples/FL. During the early part of 2009, he curated a 2-partite series of concerts at Ithaca College focusing on several early works of French composer, Olivier Messiaen, in honor of this composer’s recent centenary celebrations. Next, in May of 2009, he will be the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15, with the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra during their last concert of the 2008-09 academic season. Thereafter, Dr. Dimaras’ summer engagements include concerts with the Orlando Chamber Players, as well as his debut at the Niagara International Summer Music Festival, as part of a Piano Trio with cellist, Roman Mekinulov (principal cellist/Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra) and violinist, Atis Bankas (Founder and Artistic Director of the Festival and longtime member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra). Finally, tentative plans are in place for an early 2010 tour with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra as soloist in a Czech double-bill of Karel Husa’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra and Leos Janacek’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra in Prague/the Czech Republic and in Athens/Greece.
Since joining Ithaca College in 1999, Dr. Dimaras has always kept a very busy performing schedule on and off campus. Highlights of the 2007-2008 season included: a January, joint New York Debut recital at Merkin Hall with fellow Ithaca College Faculty Member, soprano Deborah Lifton, as a result of their winning the 2007 Joy in Singing Award; a March collaborative recital with members of the St. Petersburg String Quartet in the opening gala concert of a new chamber music festival in Naples/FL; his most recent return, in May, to Athens/Greece’s MEGARON Concert Hall for a solo recital of works by Dukas, Messiaen and Brahms, as well as the Artistic Direction of a new festival of classical music in the town of Sparta/Greece, in which he also performed - both as pianist and conductor - works by Franz Schubert, sir Edward Elgar and George Tsontakis. During the 2006-2007 season he collaborated with fellow Ithaca College Faculty Members in rare performances of Nikos Skalkottas’ Cycle Concert for Oboe, Trumpet, Bassoon and Piano at Ithaca College, as well as at Boston University and at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. During the 2005-2006 season he traveled again to New York for two high-profile appearances in the city: at Hunter College as soloist with Ithaca College’s Wind Ensemble in Karel Husa’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra and at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fischer Hall as soloist with Ithaca College’s Choirs and Symphony Orchestra in performances of Karl Orff’s Carmina Burana. During the 2002-2003 season he traveled to Brussels/Belgium for a gala solo recital event at the European Parliament building on the occasion of the Greek assumption of the EU Presidency for the first half of 2003, he toured Bosnia-Herzegovina as an officially invited guest of the local U.S. Embassy for several master classes and concerts culminating in a performance at the Sarajevo Winter Festival and, finally, he visited Russia for further solo recitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg, in celebration of St. Petersburg’s 300th grounding anniversary. During the 2001-2002 season he performed - in celebration of Karel Husa’s 80th birthday - the Czech/American composer’s Concertino for Piano and Winds at Alice Tully Hall in New York with Ithaca College’s Wind Ensemble and also recorded the work for an extensive Czech National TV Documentary on the veteran composer’s life and music. Elsewhere, as a recurring guest at the MEGARON Concert Hall in Athens/Greece, he presented a solo recital, which featured, among other selections, D. Mitropoulos’ magnum opus, his Greek Sonata. Completed in 1919, the massive work (exceeding 50’ in duration) has only been performed a handful of times since then. Before playing it in Athens, Dr. Dimaras had also previously given the work its U.S.-premiere in a guest lecture-recital at Loyola University for the Hellenic University Club of Los Angeles in November of 2001, before subsequently recording it alongside fellow Greek composer’s, Yorgo Sicilianos’, for a projected Fall 2009 CD release. Finally, in July of 2002 he presented a gala concert in Los Angeles with renowned Metropolitan Opera soprano Carole Neblett for the 2002 Clergy/Laity Conference of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
In the more distant past Dr. Dimaras has also presented numerous solo recitals, has often collaborated in chamber music concerts and has appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout Greece, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Great Britain, Russia, Brazil and the USA. Venues have included the “Amici della Musica” recital series in Palermo, Sicily & the Gubbio Festival in Italy, the Holland Music Sessions at the Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam, the British Norwich & Brighton Festivals and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, the Merkin and Alice Tully Halls, as well as Juilliard’s Focus Festival of contemporary music in New York. His long-term instrumental collaborators include violinist Janice Graham (concertmaster/English National Opera & BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra) and violist Karl Tomlin (principal viola/Orchestra Metropol of Lisbon, Portugal). In 1992, he and cellist Roman Mekinulov (principal cello/Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in upstate NY) formed a professional cello/piano duo, the Emerald Duo, which has since performed to great acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic and has been honored with several international awards and reviews. Elsewhere, in great demand as vocal coach and recitalist, he has nurtured long-term collaborative relationships with many professional singers, among them, with mezzo-soprano, Leah Summers (Vienna Staatsoper & NYCO), with soprano Johanna Meier (Metropolitan Opera & Bayreuth Festival), with tenor Jerry Siena (Metropolitan Opera & Bavarian State Opera) and with bass Dimitri Kavrakos (Metropolitan Opera & La Scala). In the past Dr. Dimaras has often acted in dual capacity (as performer & artistic director) in several solo and chamber music festivals, most notably, in a 1997 event in Greece and Germany honoring the 100th anniversary of Brahms’s death and in a 2000 event at Ithaca College, where, as co- organizer of the “IC Bach Festival 2000” honoring the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, he performed, among other works, the German composer’s complete cycle of 6 English Suites. Further thematic and anniversary festivals at Ithaca College have included British Composers (2007), Mozart & Shostakovich (2006), Poulenc (2004), Prokofiev (2003) and Verdi (2001). In 1997 he attended the annual Wagner-Festival in Bayreuth as a recipient of a Richard-Wagner-Scholarship from the international Richard Wagner Foundation. Elsewhere, he has been the recipient of several international awards, among them: First prize, Conferenza Musicale Mediterranea; top prize, Palma d’Oro International Chamber Music Competition; National finalist, BBC Young Musician of the Year 1990 Competition, as well as the Artists International Distinguished Artists Award. Finally, he has been frequently featured on NY’s WQXR radio station, on several Dutch, Italian and Greek radio stations and on Greek national TV and has recorded solo and chamber works by Franck, Bartok, Prokofiev & Stravinsky.
Born in Athens, Greece, Charis Dimaras holds a Doctorate Degree in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music (where he studied with Dr. Solomon Mikowsky), a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance from the Juilliard School in New York as a recipient of an “Alexandros S. Onasis Beneficiary Foundation scholarship” (where he studied with Gyorgy Sandor), a DipRCM from the Royal College of Music in London (where he studied with Alan Rowlands) and the Greek Soloist Diploma of the Ministry of Culture in Piano Performance from the Contemporary School of Music (where he studied with Yannis Jonker). Further studies include Master classes with Lazar Berman, Aldo Ciccolini, Hans Graf, Andrea Lucchesini and Tatiana Nikolayeva (piano); Anner Bylsma, Mario Brunello, Dorothy Delay, Felix Galimir, Jacob Lateiner, Alain Meunier and Jacques Rouvier (instrumental chamber music); Sarah Arneson, Lorine Buffington, Helen Donath, Thomas Hampson, Cynthia Hoffman, Edith Mathis, Elisabeth Mosher, Katia Ricciarelli and Sarah Walker (vocal accompaniment). Elsewhere, he has pursued advanced German Language and Literature studies at the Athens University.
Finally, during his first sabbatical leave from Ithaca College during the 2006-2007 academic season, he completed a second Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting at Bard College (where he studied with Harold Farberman), as well as participated in Master Classes with Leif Segerstam of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki/Finland and Alexander Polyshchuk of the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia. Since then, he has appeared as guest conductor on both sides of the Atlantic, with such orchestras as the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra of the Greek National Opera.