The Boston Conservatory | New England Conservatory of Music Preparatory School
Born in Venice, Italy, Roberto Poli is an eloquent communicator and a rising exponent of the music of Fryderyk Chopin, which he has comprehensively studied through manuscripts and original editions and widely performed throughout the world. The recording on video of the composer’s complete works is well under way: a DVD titled “Frederic Chopin: the late works” was released in 2008 on the Rebus label, features a live performance of Opp. 58-62. A parallel project, begun in June 2009 and supported by the European label Onclassical, features Poli’s audio recordings of Chopin’s complete works, now at its sixth volume and distributed by Naxos of America. The London-based label Piano Classics licensed and released the first volume on their own catalog. Roberto Poli’s critically acclaimed debut recording, Shall we dance..., was released in 2002 by Americus Records, and features his transcription of Maurice Ravel’s La Valse for solo piano alongside other unusual selections, such as Sergio Fiorentino’stranscription of Waltzes from Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, and works by Elizabethan composers. A second album, recorded in 2002, was released by Onclassical and features Franz Liszt’s “Années de Pèlerinage - Deuxième Année: Italie.” In the spring of 2018, Roberto Poli recorded eleven works selected from William Byrd’s “My Ladye Nevels Booke (1591), originally written for virginal – for the Piano Classics label.
Roberto Poli’s activity as an author began with the publication of his critically acclaimed first book, “The Secret Life of Musical Notation: defying interpretive traditions” (Amadeus Press, 2010). Based on years of research and performance, and presenting original groundbreaking insights, it features discoveries based on the analysis of Chopin’s manuscripts and early editions, and provides a new vision of his works that is both scholarly and practical. Additionally, the book features the multi-media interaction of text and audio-clips, which illustrate each example in the author’s interpretation. A second book, “It’s about Time: musical diary of an itinerant musician” was published in 2020 by Pianopolis, and discusses the concepts of time, rhythm, pulse, and rubato through the eyes of both the musician of the past and the modern man, advancing that we can relate to the past to find a musical language for the future.
Roberto Poli is the Artistic Director of The Chopin Symposium, an event that gathers world-renowned performers, pedagogues and lecturers in Boston. At the 2010 Symposium, Mr. Poli reenacted Chopin’s last concert in Paris (1848), performing on an 1845 Pleyel piano on loan from the Frederick Collection; at subsequent symposia, he reenacted Chopin’s 1832, 1841, and 1842 legendary concerts at the Pleyel Salons, and impersonated Sigismond Thalberg in a reenactment of the 1837 duel between Liszt and Thalberg at the salon of Cristina di Belgiojoso.
Mr. Poli’s main teacher in his teenage years was Giorgio Vianello, a pupil of Busoni’s disciple Gino Tagliapietra, under whose guidance he graduated from the Venice Conservatory of Music “Summa Cum Laude and Honors” in 1993. His studies continued under Philippe Cassard, Roni Rogoff, Vladimir Tropp, Tatyana Zelickman, PieroRattalino, and Eugenio Bagnoli. Between 1994 and 1996, his main inspiration was his work with Boris Petrushansky at the Piano Academy “Incontri col Maestro” in Imola, Italy. In 1998, Roberto Poli moved to North America, when he was offered a full scholarship to attend New England Conservatory of Music and follow the great artistry of legendary pianist Russell Sherman. Under Sherman’s guidance, he received a Master’s Degree and the prestigious Artist Diploma.
After Roberto Poli’s American debut was saluted by the press as “pure magic,” similar assessments have been expressed around the world in cities such as New York, Dublin, Rome, Boston, Tokyo, Zurich, Brussels, Calgary, Vilnius, Paris, Seoul, and wherever he travels. Acclaimed as a soloist on both piano and harpsichord, and as a chamber musician and conductor, Roberto Poli has appeared with the Monet Ensemble, the Trio di Venezia, the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston, soprano Elizabeth Keusch, clarinetist Jonathan Cohler, violinist Markus Placci, and cellists Sarah Carter, Ronald Lowry, Mickey Katz, and Leo Eguchi. In recent years, he has appeared in extensive and critically acclaimed tours of South Korea and the United States with cellist Daniel Lee. In April 2015, he appeared as a conductor and soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of El Salvador in a program devoted to Mozart and Chopin.
Roberto Poli is an enthusiastic, sought-after teacher and lecturer. From 1999 to 2015, he was on the faculty at The Rivers School Conservatory in Weston, Massachusetts, where he was the Artist-in-Residence and Chair of the Piano Department. He has been teaching at New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School since 2003. He also enjoys a busy schedule of master classes, and has been a guest lecturer and keynote speaker at institutions such as Cornell University, University of Virginia, Dartmouth College, New England Conservatory of Music, Northwestern University, and University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his private teaching, Mr. Poli leads four successful private classes on interpretation and performance for advanced adult pianists. In the fall of 2017, he joined the faculty of The Boston Conservatory as an Adjunct Professor of Keyboard Studies, teaching four piano-literature courses.
Andrew Focks, DMA
Cleveland Institute of Music
An award-winning pianist, Andrew Focks has performed as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician in venues throughout the United States, Hungary, Italy, Austria, Germany, England, and China. He has made successful solo debuts in concert halls around the world, including Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and has been broadcasted on television and radio. Within the United States he has appeared on artist series and performed in Cleveland, Houston, Chicago, New York, Interlochen, Ft. Myers, Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Tallahassee, Columbus, Tampa, and Albuquerque, among others.
Greatly in demand as a teacher, Dr. Focks’ students have performed in venues including Millennium Park (Chicago), Severance Hall (Cleveland), Carnegie Hall (New York), Hollywood Bowl (Los Angeles), Olympiahalle (Munich), Sportpaleis (Antwerp), The Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.), the White House, and more. They continue to be frequent scholarship recipients and competition prizewinners at the regional, national, and international levels and further their studies at some of the world’s most distinguished music institutions.
Focks gives frequent masterclasses and lectures throughout the United States and Europe, including at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (Chicago) and multiple state music teacher association conferences. His articles have been published by Piano Magazine as cover stories and online content, and he is routinely asked to sit on the jury of competitions and festivals. He is the current President of the Ohio Music Teachers Association after previously serving as President of the Northeast Ohio Music Teachers Association and Vice President of Student Activities on the OhioMTA State Executive Committee. He has also been an advising member of multiple arts committees and chair for music conferences.
Born in Germany, Focks received his early music training at the New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School. He holds degrees in piano performance from Florida State University (BM ’11), Rice University (MM ’13), and the Cleveland Institute of Music (DMA ’16) and was awarded numerous scholarships and awards throughout his studies. His education was further supplemented at numerous summer festivals, including seven years at the Mozarteum Sommerakademie in Salzburg. His list of teachers and mentors include Arnaldo Cohen, Jon Kimura Parker, Ya-Fei Chuang, and Daniel Shapiro.
Focks has served on the faculty of several music schools, universities, and summer academies, including annual engagements at festivals in both the United States and Europe. He is currently a member of the piano and music theory faculties of the Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory & Continuing Education Division. Working with teachers and students from around the world, he is also an independent teacher and coach.