Tuesday, December 2, 2014The Pianist Among The Policy Students

When John Burke starts out the semester in one of his classes for his master in public administration (M.P.A.) program at Georgia State his professors usually ask students to introduce themselves.

His classmates rattle off familiar fields of study for the M.P.A. program: Government affairs. Non-profit management. Business and finance.

They usually have backgrounds in public service for governments or non-profits.

And when it’s Burke’s turn?

“I say my name’s John, I’m doing management and finance, and I’m a musician,” said Burke, a pianist with two internationally recognized solo albums under his belt.

It turns heads. While Georgia State has a renowned School of Music, Burke has chosen to pursue an academic program in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

“One professor, she asked, ‘What the hell is a musician doing here in the public administration program?’” he recalled. “It’s a long story, but I’m motivated to stay in the program,” Burke said.

The 25-year-old, who virtually has his own freelance business, composes music, serves as a choir director, records and teaches.

The M.P.A. program is yielding many benefits for his work in music, he said, making it well worth the effort to keep going.

“If it weren’t for this program, I wouldn’t know about business procedures and being a professional, responsible adult,” Burke said. “It taught me about personal finances. It’s taught me about entrepreneurship. It’s taught me about organization, and dealing with clients. It just goes to show that this program is extremely versatile.”

Burke has taken a long road to the M.P.A. program, from working in a Mexican restaurant to brush up on his Spanish while in his undergraduate years, and an 8-to-5 office job as a Spanish translator, to his musical endeavors.

During that journey, and after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Oglethorpe University, he was on the lookout for employment.

Inspired by his family’s history of public service, with his grandfather having worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and his father with the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, he sought a way to continue the legacy.

He found a perfect match in the M.P.A. program.

With the vigor of a young adult in his early 20s, he started the academic program while taking on a full-time translation job with an insurance company, along with part-time choir directing.

His career path began to point him more towards music as he explored songwriting and exploring piano music, something that was a once a hobby but spawned his two records, “Synesthesia” and “Reverie,” in 2011 and 2013, respectively.

They’ve been played internationally and reviewed critically, examining his musical approach that blends multiple influences from jazz and blues to rock.

“It’s been great having people listen and both agree with me, and disagree with me,” Burke said. “It means that they’re getting into it.”

Even with all of the changes in his life and career, with music now his greatest passion, he kept going with his master’s program. And he intends to finish this spring.

“It was pretty insane, it had its ups and downs, but I pushed through,” Burke said.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013Brian Kelly Piano Music - Free Download

You're invited to listen to my solo piano piece: Niko's Delight (©2002 Brian Kelly).
Download it – View the sheet music – Share it – Enjoy!

Brian Kelly Music - Solo Piano

Tuesday, August 20, 2013Brian Kelly Piano Music - Download

You're invited to listen to my solo piano piece: Playing by Heart (©1994 Brian Kelly).
Download it – View the sheet music – Share it – Enjoy!

Brian Kelly Music - Solo Piano

Sunday, August 18, 2013Michael Scherer ready to perform for hometown fans at Celebration

Michael Scherer and Friends Decatur Celebration

DECATUR — Michael Scherer wears many hats in his line of business, but the musician will soon slip into the role of pianist back on stage.

Decatur native Scherer will perform at the Decatur Celebration on the Central Park Stage on Friday evening.

Scherer, a graduate of the Jim Culbertson/Steve Schepper era MacArthur jazz band, said the program formed the foundation for his future career.

“(Culbertson and Schepper) were very disciplined,” he said. “'C' (Culbertson) was always on the mark, but it was the key that I needed. He knew how to develop people into musicians.”

Scherer graduated from Millikin University with a degree in commercial music, which he has parlayed into several job opportunities. One of those came in the form of a Korean production crew filming in Illinois. Scherer was hired on to compose the music for the film, titled “Slap Down.” Scherer said he and business partner Zach Garrett studied film scoring through Berklee College of Music online, so the production allowed him to put his extra training to use.

“That was a cool experience, being able to work with the director and (crew members) and finding out what their vision is,” he said. “The music ended up shaping a lot of the scenes as they were filming.”

Beyond cinematic endeavors, Scherer used his degree to form Dreamvizion Productions, a sonic branding company, along with Garrett. The team helps other businesses develop promotional tones and jingles, he said.

“It’s finding what’s a really creative way of branding a business that defines them through sound,” he said. “We do on-hold music and messaging as well.”

However, Scherer and Dreamvizion also produce studio albums with different artists. Scherer himself has produced five albums; he created his first and second albums, piano and gospel/hip-hop, respectively, at Millikin. His third album, “Exceeding Expectations,” hit national charts. He has also produced a second piano album and a Christmas album.

Scherer is now working on his sixth album, “That’s the Life,” which he and Garrett are in the process of mixing. Scherer will perform portions of the album, which features Scherer on piano and Garrett on guitar, during his Celebration performance, he said.

“It’s a mixture of smooth jazz and some funky songs, adult contemporary stuff, but it’s all instrumental,” he said.

The Celebration performances will encompass a variety of genres including jazz, funk and blues and will include an eight-piece band, Scherer said.

“We’ve got a drummer, a Latin percussionist, a keyboard bass player, two guitar players, a saxophonist, a vocalist and then myself on piano,” he said. “So it’s going to be a nice group.”

Group members include Zach Garrett (guitar), Arthur Hinton (vocals), Adam Blakey (saxophone), Dion Wilson (guitar), Kyle Lovett (keyboards/bass), Myra Johnson (Latin percussion) and Will Hood (drums).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013Barbara Graff releases inaugural album in 2013

Second Act

Inspired by her mentor with New Age influences, and influenced by her love of artists as diverse as Taylor Swift, Jason Mraz and Sheryl Crow, Barbara began composing her own songs. Her debut album, “Second Act,” was born from this fusion of sound. Long versions of her "Second Act" album have been produced into a 60-minute spa CD, "Sweet Autumn Splendor."

The CD's and her newly released singles (July 2013) are available on iTunes, Amazon and at cdbaby.com/Barbaragraff2

Wednesday, July 17, 2013Vicente Avella Releases “All the Days Of My Life”

All the Days of My Life

Released on June 3, 2013 the award-winning album “All the Days of My Life” is a collection of instrumental solo piano music that gives contemporary expression to the timeless wedding classics. Produced by Windham Hill founder and Grammy Award winner William Ackerman, this recording is Vicente Avella’s solo piano album debut. CD’s and digital downloads are available on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.

Through working with couples over the years, Avella encountered an ever-growing need for music that gave a current expression to the traditional wedding classics. “This inspired me to create this album: a collection of piano music that embraces both the traditional and the contemporary”, he says.

In William Ackerman’s words “There is a freshness to Vicente’s approach to this material that utterly avoids cliché and provides depth and beauty in its place… a remarkable achievement”. Kathy Parsons of Mainly Piano calls it “An impressive project” and “a welcome addition to wedding music repertoire”.

Awarded for Instrumental Performance Solo, Album and Cover/Art/Graphics at the 2013 Global Music Awards, “All the Days of My Life” was described by the judging committee as “Stunningly performed, fresh, beautifully arranged and magical”.

As Michael Diamond of Music and Media Focus says, “While the album features many classic songs, this compilation of Vicente’s performances of them could well become a classic in itself”.

Mr. Avella has been writing and performing internationally since 1998. The Boston Globe described his composition work as "good taste unto genius”. He has scored numerous independent films, orchestrated and worked on music production for major network television shows including Family Guy (FOX) and American Dad (FOX), and written music for worldwide advertising. His music has received multiple accolades.

To find out more visit, www.vicenteavella.com

Wednesday, May 1, 2013New Album Release by Richard P John

On April 29th, Richard P John released his fourth solo piano album 'Seasons in Flight.'

'Seasons' is available from iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

For more information, please visit his website:

Richard on Facebook:

Friday, April 26, 2013Alchymie Releases Earth Sky LP

Earth Sky

The pianist and composer from St. Paul, MN known as Jennifer Theuer Ruzicka has re-released her 2012 LP record album, “Earth Sky,” on Alchymie records. The album contains eight original tracks over approximately 30 minutes of gorgeous, instrumental music composed entirely by Ruzicka, herself. It is mastered by Chris Graham.

“Earth Sky” is primarily focused on piano, but has elements of ambient and experimental electronica, also. These digital attributes serve to blend Ruzicka's piano pieces into one cohesive, organic whole, adding contour and abstract shape for a listening experience that is full and lush, like nature, itself. Ruzicka's tone is evenly divided throughout the sonic spectrum, sometimes warm, sometimes cool, but always consistently pleasant, vibrant and alive.

The biotic atmosphere of “Earth Sky” is not accidental. Ruzicka, herself, calls her LP an ambient, meditative project that is based on the visual, emotional and sensory experience that both the earth and the sky can impart.

“Through music,” she writes, “we are able to experience the interconnectedness of our earth, our sky, our senses and perhaps ourselves.”

Each of the eight tracks on “Earth Sky” are representative of a natural segment of earth or sky. In order, they are named in Czech (here translated): “Sunrise,” “Clouds,” “Rapeseed,” “Trees,” “Water,” “Poppies,” “Sunset,” and “Stars.” These compositions flow into one another exactly like seasons intertwining, or like the light of the sun passing over the eternally revolving globe. The music of “Sunrise” resonates gradually into a crescendo that welcomes the listener to the rest of the album, while “Sunset” fades into calm like the slowing of a child's music box, until the sonic space that is left ushers in Ruzicka's final piece, appropriately titled, “Stars.” The sheer majesty of this finale is not unlike that of the stars, themselves, and like the return of spring after annual snowfall, the listener will almost certainly want to begin the record anew from Track 1 at its placid conclusion.

Ruzicka has played and toured for independent and major label artists in the USA and in Europe, such as international R&B recording artist Alexander O’Neal, Paisley Park recording artist David “T.C.” Ellis, and Mallia “The Queen of Funk” Franklin, from the original Brides of Funkenstein. She has also performed with legendary Czech artists such as Pavel Bobek, Ilona Csakova, Karel Sucha, Helena Vondrackova, and the well-known alt-rock jazz group, Laura a jeji tygri (Laura and Her Tigers). She continues to collaborate with artists from the USA, Czech Republic, and England.

Jennifer Theuer Ruzicka's LP record album “Earth Sky” is available online worldwide.

-S. McCauley
Staff Press Release Writer

The LP “Earth Sky” is distributed globally by MondoTunes ( HYPERLINK "http://www.MondoTunes.com/" \n _blankwww.MondoTunes.com) and is available at iTunes for convenient purchase and download

Selected piano artist links

Selected publications