Robyn Carmichael's performances have been described as “lush, thrilling and intensely personal” with “extraordinary poetry...explosive technique." Recent seasons have included a 6-state East/West Coast tour, radio interviews on NPR, and a CD release with music of Scarlatti, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Falla, Rameau-Godowsky, and Rachmaninoff.
Her exciting 2019-20 season features an all-Beethoven recital to celebrate the composer’s 250th anniversary, and an all-Russian program with the virtuosic Tchaikovsky-Pletnev Nutcracker Suite. Her highly popular Romantic Masters Series and newly added Stroke of Genius Series continue with educational concerts combining music, commentary and visuals for schools, libraries and grassroots organizations. A unique multi-disciplinary Chopin project entitled ForbiddenConcert is planned for 2020.
The life and works of the great Polish composer Chopin have always had a special significance for Carmichael because of her Polish/Scottish ancestry. She had a remarkable opportunity to connect more closely to Chopin and his historical impact on three tours of Poland and one of Scotland. One particular day of those tours stands out:
Warsaw, October 17, 2005. Carmichael describes it as "one of the greatest events of my life." She organized an historic pilgrimage to bring her friend Matthew B. Sydow back to Warsaw. Exactly 60 years earlier, at the end of WWII on October 17, 1945, the great Chopin historian Bronislaw Edward Sydow and his son Matthew Bohdan Sydow helped to return the urn containing Chopin's heart back to its rightful place in the pillar of the Church of the Holy Cross where it remains today. On October 17, 2005, the church was packed with devotees, simultaneously honoring the anniversary of the death of Chopin, the 60th anniversary of the return of Chopin's heart, and the mid-point proceedings of the renowned XV International Chopin Piano Competition. Matthew stood once again in front of the cherished pillar, completing the circle. "I will never forget this extraordinary moment that honored Matthew, his father, Poland and Chopin's memory," said Carmichael.
In the fall of 2006, Carmichael began a collaboration with Polish narrator and nephew of Bronislaw E. Sydow, Witold Kolankowski, presenting the life and music of Fryderyk Chopin in recital with readings in Polish/English from Chopin's correspondence. In 2008-09, they took their Chopin presentation, In Search of Chopin, across the U.S. and to Glasgow, Scotland. The Glasgow performance at the Grand Concert Hall at City Halls commemorated 160 years since Chopin's visit to Scotland in 1848.
In 2003, The International Fryderyk Chopin Society invited Carmichael to play at Ostrogski Palace in Warsaw and Chopin's birthplace home, Zelazowa Wola. Upon entering that home, she said "I immediately sensed the unmistakable presence of Chopin's welcoming spirit, throughout my visit and while I played my concerts. It was an affirming and extraordinary feeling." Carmichael also played premieres of a rare Liszt work entitled "Salve Polonia," in Poland and the U.S. under the auspices of the Liszt Society of Poland and the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation.
Carmichael was born in Los Angeles to a musical family where music was a natural part of everyday life. Recordings of symphonic repertoire emanated from her sister's small record player, and the sounds of piano, ballet music, opera, and choral singing wafted through the home of her childhood. Her piano studies began at age 6, guided by the steady and caring hand of her Mother. Carmichael made her solo recital debut at age 14, and developed a keen interest in all the arts - especially in ballet. Then, in the midst of her piano studies, she left to pursue a career in ballet for the next ten years. The rich influence of her teachers, many of whom were great Russian émigré artists from the Imperial Ballet School of St. Petersburg, has stayed with her to this day. As her dance career came to a close, Carmichael returned again to the piano and began working with renowned Polish pianist and pedagogue Adolph Baller, ultimately graduating from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She later added independent studies with acclaimed teachers John Perry and Igor Schochetman.
In the intervening years, Carmichael's own survival from cancer, and the years of 2011-2014, when she cared for her dear Mother with the same disease, significantly altered her life's direction. Now she says, "through those experiences, my understanding of music has deepened, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share great music once again with my audiences."
Carmichael has appeared at the Aspen Music Festival, the Grand Concert Hall at City Halls (Glasgow, Scotland), Ostrogski Palace Concert Hall (Warsaw, Poland), CAMI Hall in New York City, Denver Municipal Auditorium, the Salk Institute, Portland's "Art for the Ears," Chicago's PianoForte Series, New York's Ridotto Series, the Idyllwild Summer Music Festival, Radziejowice Palace (Poland), and many well-known Bay Area music series such as San Francisco's Old First Church, Berkeley's Trinity Chamber Concerts, Stanford University, San Francisco State University, the University of California at San Diego, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. Past collaborations include lecture/recitals with renowned Polish musicologist, music critic and journalist Stanislaw Dybowski and pianist for operatic tenor Monti Sauermann (Salzburg Landestheater.) Carmichael was honored to have a composition, entitled "Summer Idyll" written for her by the late New York composer Meyer Kupferman. Her radio and TV appearances include interviews and performances on Peninsula TV's "Focus on the Arts," KUSF-FM, KDFC-FM, and KPFA-FM's "Piano" program. She has played chamber music with former Principal 'Cellist of the New York Philharmonic, Laszlo Varga, and with members of the Scottish Chamber, San Francisco Opera, and the National Symphony Orchestras. Carmichael was invited to play Stravinsky"s "Sacre du Printempts," honoring the composer's 100th birthday at the International Stravinsky Symposium.