ABOUT

Mark Damisch is an American concert pianist who began studying organ at the Evanston Conservatory of Music at the age of four. He performed his first piano concert at seven. As a teen in 1974, he toured Europe both as a pianist and also in a vocal group alongside the Vienna Boys Choir.  In Salzburg’s Mirabel Gardens, he first considered the idea of touring on his own.

MarkPianoCathedral_0004The following year, Mr. Damisch arranged, promoted and performed concerts in Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the Soviet Union in furtherance of goodwill and international relations.  In 1976, he performed in Moscow and Leningrad, and in 1977, he performed a 7-week tour around the world.  In 1980-81, while attending law school, Mr. Damisch played fundraising concerts to raise money for students wishing to work in Chicago legal aid clinics.

After a 19-year hiatus, Mr. Damisch returned to the concert stage in the summer of 2000, continuing his mission of performing for charitable causes worldwide.  To date, he has raised over $1 million for local and national organizations.

Mark Damisch’s piano concerts have taken him to more than 40 countries, including Japan, the Soviet Union, Ukraine, Israel, Egypt, the Netherlands, Africa, China, the Greek Islands, Iceland, Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, India and more.  He has performed in the Shuvalov Palace, raising funds for local orphanages; in Klin, at Tchaikovsky’s House; in Iskra, at the New Jerusalem Monastery; in Warsaw in the Museum of Jan Paderewski; and in Kyiv, Ukraine, at the National Philharmonic Hall to raise funds for local orphanages and in the Konstantinovsky Palace, Saint Petersburg, the “White House” of Russia

He has performed at the Houses of Friendship in Moscow, Kiev and Leningrad, Soviet Union; in Hiroshima, Japan, sponsored by Mayors for Peace, an organization devoted to the elimination of nuclear weapons; in Shenyang, China, where over $150,000 was raised for the Red Cross in a concert broadcast live to a city of 8 million people.  He has appeared on Swiss National Radio and Voice of America.

Mr. Damisch’s concert tour for peace in the Middle East included concerts sponsored by the United States Embassy, Egypt; the Ein Gedi Kibbutz; and the Ticho House, Jerusalem.  Throughout his many tours each year, he has performed numerous times in coordination with U.S. Embassies and the U.S.O.

Mr. Damisch, who also appears in numerous domestic performances every  year, has been joined on tour by his daughters Kristina, Katherine and Alexandra, who sing and play the piano.

Mr. Damisch makes his career in Chicago as a personal injury and medical malpractice attorney, and is a former criminal prosecutor with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.  He holds an undergraduate, a master’s degree in business administration, and a law degree from Northwestern University.  He is also a Certified Public Accountant.  An active community member, Mark Damisch was elected to three consecutive terms as President of Northbrook, Illinois, where he makes his home with wife Patty and their three daughters.

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2016 Tour Repertoire

April, 2016

Mark Damisch has unveiled his 2016 concert tour repertoire as follows:

DOCTOR GRADUS AD PARNASSUM CLAUDE DEBUSSY
FROM CHILDREN’S CORNER

Children’s Corner is a six-movement suite for solo piano by Claude Debussy. It was published in 1908. It is dedicated to Debussy’s daughter, Claude-Emma who was three years old at the time. The pieces are not intended to be played by children; rather they are meant to be evocative of childhood and some of the toys in her collection. This is the first piece in the Suite.

POLICHINELLE HEITER VILLA LOBOS

This is the first suite writtn by the Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos. It is his most popular piano piece and frequently crops up as a recital encore, a trend begun by Artur Rubinstein.

GYMNOPEDIES NUMBER ONE ERIC SATIE

The Gymnopédies, published in Paris starting in 1888, are piano compositions written by French composer and pianist Erik Satie. Collectively, the Gymnopédies are regarded as an important precursor to modern ambient music: gentle pieces which, when composed, defied the classical tradition.[

PIANO SONATA NUMBER THRE NORMAN DELLO JOIO

Composed in 1947, the first movement is a theme with variations. It uses the melody of the Kyrie in the Mass of the Angels. The second, is brief, rapid, and filled with rhythmic vitality, syncopations, and jazz elements. The last movement, contains rhythmic vitality and energy that continues to its surprising conclusion.

BUCKAROO HOLIDAY FROM RODEO AARON COPLAND

Rodeo is a ballet scored by Aaron Copland and choreographed by Agnes de Mille, which premiered in 1942. Rodeo opens with a grand fanfare, before it segues to the Cowgirl’s theme. This quiet theme continues until the Rodeo theme begins presenting a highly rhythmic motif that evokes the trotting of horses. The lone Cowgirl seeks the affections of the Head Wrangler, who is rather taken with the more feminine Rancher’s Daughter. The cowboys enter to the railroad tune of “Sis Joe”. As the cowgirl seeks the attention of her quarry, she mimics the surrounding cowboys, reflected in the heavy use of the tune “If He’d Be a Buckaroo”. After a brief return to the quiet Cowgirl theme, “Sis Joe” reappears again, before the piece ends by triumphantly reprising “If He’d be a Buckaroo”.

PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION MODEST MUSSORGSKY

Pictures is a suite in ten movements (plus a recurring Promenade) composed for the piano by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1874.

The suite is Mussorgsky’s most famous piano composition and has become a showpiece for virtuoso pianists. It has become further known through various orchestrations and arrangements produced by other musicians and composers, with Maurice Ravel’s arrangement being the most recorded and performed.

In 1870 Mussorgsky met artist Viktor Hartmann. Both men were devoted to the cause of nationalistic Russian art and quickly became friends. Their meeting was likely arranged by the influential critic Vladimir Stasov.

Hartmann died from an aneurysm in 1873. The sudden loss of the artist, shook Mussorgsky. Stasov helped organize an exhibition of over 400 Hartmann works in the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1874. Mussorgsky lent works from his personal collection to the exhibition and viewed the show in person.

1. Promenade
In this piece Mussorgsky depicts himself “roving through the exhibition, now leisurely, now briskly in order to come close to a picture that had attracted his attention, and at times sadly, thinking of his departed friend.” The melody and rhythm resemble Russian folk songs.
2. The Gnome

A sketch depicting a little gnome, clumsily running with crooked legs. The sketch, now lost, is thought to represent a design for a nutcracker displaying large teeth. The lurching music with frequent stops and starts, suggests the movements of the gnome.

3. Promenade

A placid statement of the promenade melody depicts the viewer walking from one display to the next.

4. The Old Castle

A medieval Italian castle before which a troubador sings a song.
5. Promenade

Another brief statement of the promenade melody gives it more weight than before.

6. Tuileries

An avenue in the garden of the Tuileries, with a swarm of children and nurses. The picture of the Tuileries near the Louvre in Paris (France) is now lost. Figures of children quarrelling and playing in the garden were likely added by the artist.

7. Cattle

A Polish cart on enormous wheels, drawn by oxen. This movement begins fortissimo, suggesting that the lumbering oxcart’s journey begins in the listener’s foreground. After reaching a climax there is a diminuendo to a final pianississimo, suggesting the oxcart receding into the distance.

8. Promenade

A reflective 10-measure presentation of the promenade theme.

9. The Ballet of Unhatched Chicks

Hartmann’s design for the décor of a picturesque scene in the ballet Trilby. Trilby or The Demon of the Heath, was produced at the Bolshoy Theatre, Petersburg, in 1871. The fledglings were canary chicks.
10. Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle-Two Jews: Rich and Poor

The personal names are used in Mussorgsky’s original manuscript. The movement is thought to be based on two separate portraits.

11. Promenade

A nearly bar-for-bar restatement of the opening promenade. The movement acts as a reprise, giving listeners another hearing of the opening material.

12. The Market at Limoges (The Great News)

French women are quarrelling violently in the market. Limoges is a city in central France. Mussorgsky originally provided two paragraphs in French that described a marketplace discussion (the ‘great news’), but soon removed them.

13. Catacombs

Hartmann represented himself examining the Paris catacombs by the light of a lantern. The first section’s chords evoke the grandeur, stillness, and echo of the catacombs. The second section suggests a merging of observer and scene as the observer descends into the catacombs.

14. The Hut on Fowl’s Legs

Hartmann’s drawing depicted a clock in the form of Baba Yaga’s hut on fowl’s legs. Motives in this movement evoke the bells of a large clock and the whirlwind sounds of a chase. The coda leads without a break to the final movement of the suite.

15. The Great Gate of Kiev

Hartmann designed a monumental gate for Tsar Alexander II to commemorate the monarch’s narrow escape from an assassination attempt on April 4, 1866. The movement features a grand main theme that exalts the opening promenade. The solemn secondary theme is based on a baptismal hymn from the repertory of a Russian Orthodox chant.

See our Tour Schedule for the most up-to-date information.

 

Damisch and Daughters

Spotlight on Damisch Daughters

“These tours have been truly life-transforming experiences.  They have forever altered the way I look at the world.”
Alexandra Damisch

If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — no wonder Northbrook’s three Damisch daughters stay close to the piano bench.

Their father, concert pianist and former Northbrook village president Mark Damisch, began playing the organ when he was 4 at the Evanston Conservatory of Music, switching to piano at age 7.

“When I look at this summer’s tour, I don’t know how many more we will be able to do as a family,” Mark Damisch lamented.  I’m trying to hang on tightly to every rehearsal — every memory.”

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Tour Dates

27 Aug 2016 Quebec, Canada St. Andrew's Church St. Andrew's Church
28 Aug 2016 Montreal, Canada Christ Church Cathedral Christ Church Cathedral
30 Aug 2016 Ottawa, Canada First Baptist Church First Baptist Church
31 Aug 2016 Toronto, Canada TBD TBD
01 Sep 2016 Toronto, Canda TBD TBD

 

More Tour Dates

Philanthropy

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“All I want to do is leave the world a little better than I found it.”
Mark Damisch

2015 will be an historic 40th year of piano performance for Mark Damisch…a year of looking back on the abundance of memories of people and places across the globe where his family and their music have been welcomed so warmly.  So too the year brings fresh and exciting new experiences and venues…one-of-a-kind places like the stunning Konstantinov Palace, home of Vladimir Putin, and many other venues, each special in its own way.

One thing will not change, and that is that the Damisches will continue to donate all benefits from both domestic and international performances to local charitable causes.  Through their music, Mark and his daughters Alexandra and Katherine have, to date, raised over $1 million for non-profit organizations worldwide.  In partnership with these groups, the family – which sponsors its own travel and does not accept performance fees – will honor its tradition of performing to audiences comprised of the charity’s constituents, with all ticket proceeds going to the charity.

To discuss an opportunity to host a concert that benefits a non-profit organization in your region, please contact us using the form provided.

A partial list of charitable recipients:

American Cancer Society

Care Austria, Vienna

Cedarhurst Center for the Performing Arts, Mt. Vernon, IL

Chicago-Amman Sister Cities Program

Chicago-Osaka Sister Cities Program

Chicago-Petach Tikva Sister Cities Program

Chicago-Warsaw Sister Cities Program

Childline, CLIC – Juvenile Leukemia

Chinese People’s Association for Friendship, Shanhai/Beijing

Chinese Red Cross

Christoffel Blindenmission, Austria

Council for Jewish Elderly

Ein Gedi Kibbutz, Jerusalem

Fairygodmother Foundation

Garden of Hope / Human Trafficking, Taipei City, Taiwan

Goldman Philanthropic Partnerships, Chicago

Habitat for Humanity, Lake County, IL

Hanbit School for the Blind

Hands of Peace

Hermitage Theater Benefit for Young Boy’s Urgent Medical Needs

Homeless Shelters, Copenhagen, Denmark

Hook Norton Cathedral, Windsor, UK

Illinois State Bar Association

International Centre for the Delhi Music Society

Island of Paros, Greece, Parthenon Marbles Initiative

Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami Victims, Osaka, Japan

Jewish United Fund

Lemon Creek Correctional Facility Prison Ministry

Local Orphanages, St. Petersburg, Russia

Mayors for Peace, Hiroshima, Japan

National Academy of Music, Hanoi

National Music Conservatory, Egypt

Northern Light Church Replacement Project

Parkinson’s Disease Society, London, UK

Peace in the Middle East: Israel, Egypt, Jordan

Sharing and Happiness Hospital, Busan, South Korea

Siem Reap, Cambodia, Educational System

Social Concerns Committee, Paris

South Africa Hospital Benefit

Special Olympics Korea

St. Petersburg International Society for Cooperation

Sue Ryder Foundation, Czech Republic

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk for the Cure

Ticho House, Jerusalem

U.S. Consulate, Russia

U.S.O., Troops in Iraq

YWCA Week Without Violence

 

Press

Chicago Tribune, “Northbrook Pianist Mark Damisch to Kick Off International Tour”   Read more

The Washington Post:  “Chicago Lawyer’s Second Act”  Read more

Chicago SunTimes, “His Next Campaign:  Village President Plans Tour As Concert Pianist”  Read more

Chicago Tribune, “Northbrook Leader Juggles Varied Roles”  Read more

Northwestern University Alumni Life:  “Mark Damisch: Peaceful Pianist”    Read more

Northbrook Arts Commission, “Spotlight on Mark W. Damisch”   Read more

Chicago Trib Local, “Damisch Family Takes Music Overseas”   Read more

AARP The Magazine, “A Pianist Who Plays for Charity”  Read more

Chicago Tribune, “Suburban Leader Finds Ways to Mix Politics, Piano”  Read more

The Phenom Penh Post, “Peace Pianist to Play in Sofitel”  Read more

Russian Cultural Center, “The Concert of Russian and American Concert Music”  Read more 

Thanhnien News, “American Father-Daughter Combo to Give Piano Recital in Hanoi”     Read more

Embassy of the United States, “Peaceful Pianist Mark Damisch and his two daughters visited Mongolia as part of his 2012 Asia Tour”  Read more

Forest & Bluff Magazine, “An Afternoon of American Classical Music”  Read more

Pravda Ru, “Pianist and Northbrook Village President Mark W. Damisch Announces Plans for Eastern European Concert Tour and Chicago Theater Concert”   Read more

Voice of America.com, “Chicago Musician Travels to Mideast, Plays in Israel, West Bank”  Read more

Daily News Egypt, “An American Pianist in Egypt”  Read more

Contact Mark