Music strikes a chord with family

Music strikes a chord with family

URBANA - As a 9-year-old who had just moved to New Jersey, Susan Teicher felt a bit uncomfortable being known as the daughter of Louis Teicher of the famed piano duo Ferrante & Teicher.

Now she doesn't mind when people make the connection.

?It's sort of historical interest more than anything else,? said Teicher, an accomplished pianist in her own right who has lived in Urbana since 1989 with her musician/professor husband, Kaz Machala, and their 16-year-old twins, Pamela and Julian.

Music seems to come naturally in the Teicher-Machala family. Pamela is a pianist, too, and Julian plays violin. Teicher's mother, Elaine Sutin Teicher, is a violinist and director of a chamber group called the Sutton Ensemble in northern New Jersey; she is a member of the New York Pops, founded and conducted by Skitch Henderson.

Susan Teicher, her twins and mother will join Machala, a professor of French horn at the University of Illinois, at 2 p.m. Sunday in the WILL-FM Second Sunday Concert at the Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, C. The event is free.

The concert, ?Susan Teicher, Family and Friends,? will mark the first time all five family members have performed together publicly. (The ?friends? are cellist Barbara Hedlund and viola player Istvan Szabo.)

?I decided to do it because I think it'll be fun,? Susan Teicher said. ?Fun is the operative word.?

The Teicher-Machala clan must have a lot of fun, musically, at home. The first thing you see when you enter the front door are two baby grand pianos - a Steinway and Sons and a Baldwin - that nearly fill one end of the L-shaped living area.

Pamela, a junior at University Laboratory High School, studies with her mother, a full-time professor on the music faculty at Eastern Illinois University. But the lessons are somewhat informal.

?Sometimes we don't have a real lesson for a while,? Pamela said. ?I just ask her things when she's around the house.?

Julian, a sophomore at Urbana High School, studies violin with Danwen Jiang, a member of the UI faculty. Julian is one of only two high school students who are members of the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra. His father also plays with the orchestra.

Julian and Pamela are not yet sure whether they will pursue careers as professional musicians. But they are off to a good start: Pamela made the Illinois Music Educators Association all-state chorus as an alto and Julian is a member of the all-state orchestra. In the Urbana High School band, Julian plays percussion.

The twins will be out of town at state music events during the next C-U Symphony Orchestra concert Feb. 1 at the Krannert Center. So Elaine Teicher, who is staying in Urbana for a month, will fill in for her grandson. While here, she also will conduct master classes for the students of Terry Coulton at EIU.

Like her daughter and son-in-law, Elaine Teicher studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, where she obtained a master's degree. She then married Louis Teicher and maintained her professional career on a limited basis while raising Susan and two sons.

Susan began playing piano when she was 6. She never did study with her father, who was busy with his career.

?I do remember,? Elaine Teicher said, ?he came home from the road one time and said, ?You know, Susan sounds pretty good.' She was already 14 or 15 when he realized that she was an excellent pianist.?

The Teichers divorced more than 25 years ago, and Louis Teicher, 78, now lives in Sarasota, Fla. Some of the Ferrante & Teicher recordings are being re-released, but Susan Teicher said it is unlikely that the duo will perform again.

However, she and pianist Martha Thomas recently performed Ferrante & Teicher arrangements in North Carolina and will do so again at the C-U Symphony Orchestra pops concert April 4, 2004. They are the only piano duo authorized to perform original Ferrante & Teicher arrangements.

Susan Teicher studied at Oberlin College in Ohio before going to Juilliard, where she met Kaz Machala.

Machala didn't realize for a while that his girlfriend was the daughter of half of the Ferrante & Teicher duo, even though Machala had heard, back in Poland, the duo's recording of ?Exodus,? which sold more than 2 million copies.

After obtaining a doctorate of musical arts at Juilliard, Machala played for seven years with the Sydney (Australia) Symphony Orchestra and then taught for a year at the University of Georgia before joining the UI faculty in 1989.

On the program for the concert Sunday are ?Praeludium and Allegro? by Kreisler, ?Ma Mere L'Oye? (Mother Goose) by Ravel, ?Trio? by Banks, and ?Quartet in G Minor, Opus 25,? by Brahms.

The Teicher-Machala family will repeat the program at 3 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Tarble Arts Center on the EIU campus in Charleston.

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