Charis Dimaras

Professor, Music Performance
School: School of Music, Theatre, and Dance
Phone: 607-274-3440
Office: James J Whalen Ctr for Music 2318, Ithaca, NY 14850
Specialty: Piano & Collaborative Studies

Widely recognized as one of the most individual and multi-faceted musical talents of his generation, Greek pianist and conductor, Charis Dimaras, continues to maintain an active performing career as solo recitalist, vocal & instrumental chamber music collaborator, orchestra soloist and conductor of symphonic and operatic repertory and is equally at home performing the music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, as he is presenting brand new works in their world-premieres.  International critics have routinely hailed his virtuoso technique and refined musicality, while his exciting stage-presence has thrilled audiences around the world.  Elsewhere, Dr. Dimaras also remains strongly committed to the education of future generations of musicians: Since 1999 he has been a member of the Music Faculty at Ithaca College in Ithaca/NY, where he is currently Professor of Piano and Collaborative Studies and Coordinator of the Keyboard Area.  In addition, in the past he has taught in several coveted, international summer programs, such as the University of Miami’s Summer Vocal Program in Salzburg/Austria, the Holland Summer Music Sessions, the Opera Theater Institute of famed Metropolitan Opera soprano, Johanna Meier in Spearfish/SD, New York’s Opera Singers Initiative (OSI) Summer Program, the IPAI Summer Vocal Program in Germany, the 2013 Art Campus International Summer Chamber Music Festival in Delfi/Greece and the 2013 Camp I.D.E.A.S. International High School Summer Meeting in Beidahe/China.  Finally, since 2015, he serves as the Music Director and Head Vocal Coach for College Audition Advantage’s (CAA) Summer Vocal Institute at CT’s Music Mountain.

Dr. Dimaras’ 2016-17 season started at home (Ithaca College) with the organization of 2 multi-concert, mini-festivals celebrating major anniversaries of composers Ferruccio Busoni and Enrique Granados, in which faculty and students performed a variety of solo and chamber music of their works.  The rest of the fall was dedicated to Beethoven’s complete Violin Sonatas: In a mammoth project of complex logistics, Dr. Dimaras organized, co-performed and taught the entire cycle to tremendous acclaim.  During that same period, Dr. Dimaras also participated in the world-premiere performance of Stephen Dankner’s song cycle The Merit of Light, which led to several further invitations to perform and eventually record this work in the near future.  Spring 2017 off-campus recitals and chamber music collaborations have already taken place in CT, FL, IN and NY, while future plans include a variety of activities in CO, MA and OH and in Europe (Austria and Greece) during the upcoming summer.   

Since joining Ithaca College in 1999, Dr. Dimaras has always kept a very busy performing schedule on- and off-campus.  His 2015-16 season was dominated by several performances as soloist with orchestra, in such works as Brahms 1st Piano Concerto, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Scriabin’s sole Piano Concerto.  During the 2014-15 season he performed in recital with Metropolitan Opera soprano, Marlis Petersen (in Greece), Metropolitan Opera Bass, Peter Volpe (in the U.S.) and with Eastman School of Music violinist, Charlie Castleman (in China).  His 2013-14 season included a series of 2 recitals dedicated to Franz Liszt’s complete piano transcriptions from Richard Wagner’s operas in celebration of the latter’s 200th birth anniversary at Ithaca College, as well as trips to Europe (Germany and Greece) for more celebratory events of the bi-centennial anniversaries of Verdi and Wagner.  Elsewhere, as part of his second sabbatical leave of absence from Ithaca College, he spent the spring of 2014 in Naples/FL, where he served as advisor and senior vocal coach for OPERA NAPLES’ Young Artist Program during its initial, pilot season and performed as guest artist in Naples’ Festival of the World.  Highlights of his 2012-13 season included: The opening event (a solo recital including the iconic Appassionata) of a multi-personnel series of live-recorded performances of a complete Beethoven sonata cycle at the MEGARON Concert Hall in Athens/Greece; The main event for the 2013 Eastern Regional NATS Conference, an evening of mature Verdi arias with Metropolitan Opera baritone, Todd Thomas and a 6-week tour of China with concerts, lectures and master classes in 9 out of this country’s 11 main music conservatories, including the China (Beijing), Shanghai, Chengdu and Xi’an conservatories.  During the preceding 2012-2011 season, Dr. Dimaras served as artistic director to an on-campus, 13-partite Festival in honor of Franz Liszt’s 200th birth anniversary.  This Festival featured performances from a number of current IC students and the entire piano faculty, but also brought to campus several outstanding scholars from both sides of the Atlantic, as well as select, recent alumni of the IC piano department in a grand celebration of the great pianist-composer’s life and music.  January 2012 was spent preparing and recording Libby Larsen’s pioneering song-cycle Try me Good King (2001) with longtime collaborator, soprano, Deborah Lifton, for future commercial release on CD.  A number of solo and collaborative recitals followed in the spring of 2012, including a high-profile, fund-raising recital at Cornell University with the young star violinist, Ryu Goto, as well as performances and master classes throughout the U.S.A., before a return visit to the 2012 Beijing International Summer Master Classes.  Dr. Dimaras’ 2010-11 season, which was dominated by the official worldwide CD-release on Greek record label IRIDA Classics of his recording of famed 20th century Greek pianist, conductor & composer, Dimitri Mitropoulos’ Greek Sonata (a 50’ piano sonata of legendary technical difficulty and structural complexity) and Yorgo Sicilianos’ 8 Children’s Miniatures also featured the artistic direction of a 5-partite fall IC Festival celebrating Frederic Chopin’s 200th birth anniversary and several solo and collaborative performances at St. Louis’ Washington University, in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. 

During the 2009-10 season, Dr. Dimaras curated a series of lecture-recitals for the Education Department of the Naples Philharmonic called “The Perfect Pitch: Music in Word and Sound – The Classical Piano Sonata in Perspective”, in which he traced through individual lectures and full concert performances of select repertory the evolution of the sonata-allegro form from its infancy to its triumphant maturity.  Elsewhere, he performed at the Niagara-on-the-Lake International Summer Festival and collaborated in complete performances of Hugo Wolf’s iconic Italienisches Liederbuch.  Earlier career highlights include the artistic direction in 2009 of a 2-partite series of concerts at Ithaca College focusing on several early and rarely-heard works of French composer, Olivier Messiaen, in honor of this composer’s centenary celebrations; a fall 2008 collaborative program of contemporary American art song at Ithaca College with guest artist, tenor, Paul Sperry; a January 2008, joint New York Debut recital at Merkin Hall with past Ithaca College Faculty Member, soprano Deborah Lifton, as a result of their winning the 2008 Joy in Singing Award; a March collaborative recital with members of the St. Petersburg String Quartet in the opening gala concert of a new chamber music festival in Naples/FL; the Artistic Direction of a new festival of classical music in the town of Sparti/Greece, in which he also performed - both as pianist and conductor - works by Franz Schubert, sir Edward Elgar and George Tsontakis.  A collaboration with fellow Ithaca College Faculty Members in rare performances of Nikos Skalkottas’ Cycle Concert for Oboe, Trumpet, Bassoon and Piano at Ithaca College, as well as at Boston University and at the Manhattan School of Music in New York in the fall of 2006; a spring 2006 appearance at NYC’s Hunter College as concerto soloist with Ithaca College’s Wind Ensemble in Karel Husa’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra and at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fischer Hall with Ithaca College’s Choirs and Symphony Orchestra in performances of Karl Orff’s Carmina Burana; a 2003 gala solo recital event at the European Parliament building on the occasion of the Greek assumption of the EU Presidency for the first half of 2003; an extensive tour of Bosnia-Herzegovina as an officially invited guest of the local U.S. Embassy for several master classes and concerts culminating in a performance at the Sarajevo Winter Festival; a visit to Russia for solo recitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg, in celebration of St. Petersburg’s 300th grounding anniversary; a fall 2002 Czech National TV Documentary in celebration of Czech/American composer Karel Husa’s 80th birthday; finally, in July of 2002 a gala concert in Los Angeles with renowned Metropolitan Opera soprano, Carole Neblett for the 2002 Clergy/Laity Conference of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. 

In the more distant past Dr. Dimaras has additionally appeared in solo recitals, in chamber music concerts and as soloist with orchestras throughout Europe, Turkey, Russia, Brazil, China, Canada and the USA.  Venues have included the “Amici della Musica” recital series in Palermo/Sicily & the Gubbio Festival in Italy, the Holland Music Sessions at the Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam, the British Norwich & Brighton Festivals and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, the Merkin and Alice Tully Halls, as well as Juilliard’s Focus Festival of contemporary music in New York.  His long-term instrumental collaborators include violinist Janice Graham (concertmaster/English National Opera & guest principal/the London Sinfonietta) and violist Karl Tomlin (principal viola/Orchestra Metropol of Lisbon/Portugal).  In 1992, he and cellist Roman Mekinulov (principal cello/Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in upstate NY) formed a professional cello/piano duo, the Emerald Duo, which has since performed to great acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic and has been honored with several international awards and reviews.  Elsewhere, in great demand as vocal coach and recitalist, he has nurtured long-term collaborative relationships with many professional singers, among them, with mezzo-soprano, Leah Summers (Vienna Staatsoper & NYCO), with tenor Jerry Siena (Metropolitan Opera & Bavarian State Opera) and with bass Dimitri Kavrakos (Metropolitan Opera & La Scala).  In the past Dr. Dimaras has often acted in dual capacity (as performer & artistic director) in several solo and chamber music festivals, most notably, in a 1997 event in Greece and Germany honoring the 100th anniversary of Johannes Brahms’ death and in a 2000 event at Ithaca College, where, as co- organizer of the “IC Bach Festival 2000” honoring the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, he performed, among other works, the German composer’s complete cycle of 6 English Suites.  Further anniversary festivals at Ithaca College have included Prokofiev (2003) and Verdi (2001).  In 1997 he attended the annual Wagner-Festival in Bayreuth as a recipient of a Richard-Wagner-Scholarship from the international Richard Wagner Foundation.  Elsewhere, he has been the recipient of several international awards, among them: First prize, Conferenza Musicale Mediterranea; top prize, Palma d’Oro International Chamber Music Competition; National finalist, BBC Young Musician of the Year 1990 Competition, as well as the Artists International Distinguished Artists Award.  Finally, he has been frequently featured on NY’s WQXR radio station, on several Dutch, Italian and Greek radio stations and on Greek national TV and has recorded solo and chamber works by Franck, Bartok, Prokofiev & Stravinsky. 

Born in Athens, Greece, Charis Dimaras holds a Doctorate Degree in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music (where he studied with Dr. Solomon Mikowsky), a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance from the Juilliard School in New York as a recipient of an “Alexandros S. Onasis Beneficiary Foundation scholarship” (where he studied with Gyorgy Sandor), a DipRCM from the Royal College of Music in London (where he studied with Alan Rowlands) and the Soloist Diploma of the Greek Ministry of Culture in Piano Performance from the Contemporary School of Music (where he studied with Yannis Jonker).  Further studies include master classes with Lazar Berman, Aldo Ciccolini, Hans Graf, Andrea Lucchesini and Tatiana Nikolayeva (piano); Anner Bylsma, Mario Brunello, Dorothy Delay, Felix Galimir, Jacob Lateiner, Alain Meunier and Jacques Rouvier (instrumental chamber music); Sarah Arneson, Lorine Buffington, Helen Donath, Thomas Hampson, Cynthia Hoffman, Edith Mathis, Elisabeth Mosher, Katia Ricciarelli and Sarah Walker (vocal accompaniment).  Elsewhere, he has pursued advanced German Language and Literature studies at the National University of Greece. 

Finally, during his first sabbatical leave from Ithaca College during the 2006-2007 academic season, he completed a second Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting at Bard College (where he studied with Harold Farberman), as well as participated in Master Classes with Leif Segerstam of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki/Finland and Alexander Polyshchuk of the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia.  Since then, he has appeared as guest conductor on both sides of the Atlantic, with such orchestras as the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra of the Greek National Opera.