Known as “a virtuosic soloist possessed of power, sensitivity, earthiness, and humor” (Whitney Smith, Indianapolis Star) with the “power to make an audience sit up and pay attention…thought-provoking for performers and listeners alike” (James Manheim, All Music Guide ), Michael Sheppard studied with the legendary Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory. He was selected by the American Pianists Association as a Classical Fellow, which designation led to the recording of his Harmonia Mundi CD of 2007. In addition to having recorded a hearty cross-section of the cello and piano repertoire with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Principal Cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski, an ongoing project, he has another solo album “in the can” (release date TBA) and has as also recently released an experimental album of all improvisations, “12 Images.”
Sheppard has performed solo recitals and concertos around the world, as well as across the USA, including several solo Weill (Carnegie) Hall recitals and a solo Kennedy Center debut. As a funny little matter of fact, he happens to have given solo recitals in the hometowns of both Mahler (Jihlava, Czech Republic) and Elvis (Tupelo, Mississippi), and enjoys taking in the local culture wherever in the world he finds himself. Michael gives master classes, teaches regularly and plays with some of the top singers and instrumentalists around; he also coaches singers, instrumentalists, and conductors, and also conducts occasionally himself, having basically assimilated by osmosis (and occasional podium time) 17 years of conducting classes at Peabody taught by the late, great Gustav Meier. Sheppard was, and remains under Marin Alsop, the pianist for the class, reading down all manner of orchestra scores at the piano in mostly the right transpositions.
An improviser and composer since the single digits of age, he has worked closely with fellow composers John Corigliano, Christopher Theofanidis, Michael Hersch, Robert Sirota and the late Nicholas Maw, demonstrating a deep love of new music; his eclectic tastes also led him recently to musical-direct performances of Jason Robert Brown’s Broadway show “The Last Five Years” as well as “Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens” at the Brighton (U.K.) Fringe Fest, in which show he also made his stage acting debut as the character Dwight, an ex-dancer, even though Sheppard himself in real life, has the physical grace of, approximately, a mailbox. #acting
Anyway, to round this out, he is a native of Philadelphia and resides in Baltimore, where he works at both the Peabody Conservatory and the Baltimore School for the Arts, sharing his love and understanding of music and the artistic process with future generations. His hobbies include avoiding political discussions on Facebook, clumsily attempting to master certain bodyweight exercises so as to be able to eat and drink whatever he wants relatively without consequence (and to ameliorate the aforementioned mailbox situation), and reading. Recently he has also forayed into audiobook narration, because apparently he doesn’t have enough stuff to do.