Full length Biography
Widely known for her brilliant and expressive playing, Erika Switzer grows her reputation as the collaborative pianist of choice. In recitals throughout Europe, North America, and South Africa, she has been praised for her ability to match emotional playing to dramatic texts. Her performance highlights include recent recitals with many of Canada’s finest singers: sopranos Martha Guth and Andriana Chuchman, mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne, tenor Colin Balzer, and baritone Tyler Duncan.
For the 11/12 season, Ms. Switzer’s schedule is booked with recital performances: an Atlantic Debut tour with soprano Simone Osborne and Tyler Duncan; in Tours, France for the Francis Poulenc Academy with Tyler Duncan; in London, Ontario for the Jeffery Concerts with Martha Guth and Tyler Duncan; and the Peggy Rockefeller Concert Series in NY with Colin Balzer.
2011 Summer festival appearances include recitals at the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina with soprano Greta Feeney and bass-baritone Kevin Short; the Vancouver International Song Institute with tenor James Taylor and baritone Francois Le Roux; the Victoria Summer Music Festival with Martha Guth and Tyler Duncan; the Hornby Festival in a program of operatic and song highlights with Martha Guth; in Voxna, Sweden for the Jussi Bjorling Centennial Celebration with Tyler Duncan; and a recital of all Canadian works at MusicFest Vancouver with Martha Guth.
In previous seasons, Erika was honoured to be an official pianist for the voice division of Munich’s prestigious ARD International Music Competition. She performed Schubert’s Schwanengesang with baritone David Krohn at Trinity Wall Street and joined Mr. Duncan with soprano Jennifer Zetlan and pianist David Shimoni in a special Valentine’s Day program for the 5 Boroughs Music Festival in Brooklyn, NY. Together with tenor James Taylor, Ms. Switzer presented a Schubertiade at Yale’s Center for British Art and she also performed in recitals and masterclasses for singers at New York’s Joy in Singing foundation, an organisation that fosters the art of song performance in the city. She collaborated at the Ottawa Chamber Music Society with performers including Ms. Guth, Chris Trakas, baritone, Chip Hamman, oboe and Lawrence vine, horn. For the Andre Turp Society, Montreal, she performed works of Mahler and Strauss with Julie Boulianne, mezzo-soprano and Mr. Duncan; the Fanny Hensel Mendelssohn Celebration at the Juilliard School in New York, curated by Larry Todd; at the Frick Collection in New York, in recital with Mr. Balzer; a tour with Ms. Guth and Mr. Duncan for Prairie Debut.
A “Pro Musicis Artist”, Erika Switzer has performed in New York City’s Carnegie Hall; Boston’s Longy Hall; and in the Salle Cortot in Paris. Along with international concert opportunities, Pro Musicis also provides community service concerts such as in hospitals, care homes and prisons. Further community supportive performances took place through Cape Classic Chamber Music Festival in South Africa raising money to build music schools in areas of need. From 2001-2007 Ms. Switzer was also regularly invited to perform in Germay for Live Music Now, founded by Yehudi Menuhin to bring joy and inspiration of live music to those who have limited access to conventional music-making, and helping to develop the careers of young talented musicians.
Ms. Switzer has also performed at the “New Discoveries” series at the Baden-Baden Festspiele, as well as the Winners & Masters concert series in both Munich and and Bielefeld. In her native Canada, she has performed at the Chamber Music Festival of Montreal, Winnipeg’s Prairie Performance and has been featured regularly in Vancouver at the yearly summer festival MusicFest and at the city’s hottest new series Music on Main. When not performing the “serious” repertoire, Erika has performed in Vancouver’s cabaret act “Leave it to Diva”.
Erika is a founding member of the Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI). She has performed and taught there annually since its inception in 2007. In 2011 she joins the faculty of the CoOPERAtive program at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. Ms. Switzer was on the faculty of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich and the Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg-Augsburg from 2002 to 2007, and was a Teaching Assistant to the esteemed Professor of Collaborative Piano Studies Rena Sharon at the University of British Columbia. She currently teaches at Bard College in upstate NY.
Erika is co-creator of the podcast and soon-to-be Ezine “Sparks and Wiry Cries”, available on iTunes and co-hosted with soprano Martha Guth. “Sparks and Wiry Cries” is becoming the online go-to place for all things song, singer, and pianist. www.sparksandwirycries.com
Ms. Switzer has been recorded by the CBC, Dutch Radio (Radio 4) and in Germany for SWR and the Bayerische Rundfunk. She was recently broadcast live on WQXR in New York in concert with Colin Balzer and WGBH in Boston with Tyler Duncan, which broadcast on NPR in the US. On disc, she has recorded the Brahms Liebeslieder and solo quartets as well as songs of Hanns Eisler.
Erika Switzer won First Prize for best pianist at the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and the Best Pianist award at the Robert Schumann International Vocal Competition. She has also been recognised by the BC Arts Council and the Canada Council with grants for her studies abroad.
Following seven years of studying, teaching, and performing in Germany, Ms. Switzer is currently based in New York City where she is completing her DMA as a C.V. Starr doctoral fellow at the Juilliard School of Music; her dissertation is on Canadian Song repertoire of the 20th century. She obtained two masters degrees: her Master of Song Interpretation at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, and her Master of Music Degree in Solo Piano at the University of British Columbia, where she also obtained her Bachelor of Music in Solo Piano.