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Stephen Carlson

Dr. Stephen Carlson Professor


Pianist Stephen Carlson began his undergraduate studies as a political science major and Army ROTC Scholarship Cadet. A member of the Bemidji State University Music Department since 2006, he is a versatile soloist and chamber musician who has performed at many colleges, universities, and festivals throughout much of the U.S. and Canada. In 2005, Dr. Carlson made his New York debut as a solo recitalist in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall with a program that included Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka, and various works by Beethoven, Debussy and Scriabin. From 1995 to 2003, he appeared at Minnesota Valley Sommarfest (St. Peter, MN) where he performed an array of solo and collaborative works. He has appeared with the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra three times: in 2010 in which he played Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, in 2009 when he played Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and in 2007 when he played Beethoven’s Triple Concerto along with Michelle Laliberte and Patrick Riley. He also performed the Tchaikovsky with the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony, Mozart’s Concerto in A major, K. 414 with the Gustavus Adolphus Chamber Orchestra, and Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals along with John McKay and the Mississippi Valley Chamber Orchestra. In October of 2017, he also performed live in Minnesota Public Radio’s studio.

He completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance and pedagogy at the University of Iowa where he studied with Uriel Tsachor. In March of 2017, he was honored by his doctoral institution as he was invited to give a solo recital and master class to doctoral students in partial celebration of the opening of their new 89 million music building. He is also a graduate of the University of Illinois and Gustavus Adolphus College where he studied with Ian Hobson and John McKay, respectively.

Dr. Carlson has a successful undergraduate studio at Bemidji State and is pleased to see students go on to major graduate schools or private studio teaching. Also an innovative clinician with wide-ranging interests, he is frequently called upon to give master classes, piano teacher workshops, and to adjudicate contests. His clinic entitled, An Athletic Approach Toward Playing the Piano, was presented at the South Carolina Music Teachers Association Conference. Most recently, he instituted Piano Day with the support of the Bemidji State University Foundation and Department of Music. In addition, Dr. Carlson has published articles for the journal, American Music. Prior to coming to Bemidji State where he is Professor of Music, Carlson was a tenured faculty member at Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina. He has also taught piano at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, Gustavus Adolphus College and St. Joseph’s School of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Dr. Carlson will be releasing two commercial recordings soon. The first is a solo album that will include selected works by Beethoven, Haydn, Bartók, Debussy, and Liszt. The other recording project will feature Schubert’s Winterreise, with his colleague, Dr. Cory Renbarger. Aside from more performances of Winterreisse, Carlson’s upcoming engagements include a recital with his colleague, violinist Eric Olson, and several solo recitals.