About the Festival

Alexander Paley trained at the Moscow Conservatory and now lives in New York City, Paris, and Lithuania. He is widely recognized for his exceptionally broad and extensive repertoire of concerti and solo piano works, his dazzling technical prowess, and his convincing, personal interpretations. He keeps a full calendar, performing all over the world. 

Pianist Peiwen Chen joins Alexander Paley’s performances in Richmond, sometimes as a soloist, sometimes in four-hands or two-piano works. Ms. Chen is also a vocal coach and faculty member of Mannes College in New York City, and Mr. Paley’s spouse.

Other musicians who have played in the Festival include violinist Amiram Ganz (bio); Daisuke Yamamoto (RSO profile), violinist and Concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony, clarinetist Charles West, Professor Emeritus of Music at VCU (ICA profile); James Ferree, Richmond Symphony Principal Horn (RSO profile); Marie-André Chevrette, associate principle second violin with Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal; Jose Ramos Santeros, artist faculty member of the International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Mannes College in New York City; Clyde Shaw, Professor Emeritus of cello and chamber music at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia; and others.

A handful of dedicated volunteers keep the Festival going. Revenue from donations and ticket sales go exclusively to the musicians and Festival expenses, such as transportation of the piano and printing materials such as flyers and programs. The Festival is registered as an IRS 501(c)(3) organization. One very important — and nonhuman — volunteer is the concert grand piano, lent by Blüthner USA.

The Alexander Paley Music Festival mirrors Richmond’s unique blend of big city, small town. Festival performances by Mr. Paley and his fellow artists are big in ambition, big in scope of repertoire, and huge in virtuosity. The Blüthner piano itself has a big, big sound. Yet the Festival retains an intimacy that brings its audience into a golden circle possible only in passionate live performance. The venue, St. Luke Lutheran Church, puts audience and performers into a physical proximity closer than possible in most venues, creating an almost salon experience.

If you would like make a donation to support the Festival (and buy tickets to upcoming concerts) visit our Box Office.

Festival History

Pianist Alexander “Sasha” Paley first visited Richmond in 1997 to perform with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. He had settled in New York City after defecting from the former Soviet Union in 1988. Yet as he told music reviewer Clarke Bustard, in Richmond, “For the first time I had a taste of American history. What America really is I found out here, not in New York.” Sasha fell in love with our city, and the Alexander Paley Music Festival was born.

After the bookstore, and except for the huge Tenth Anniversary bash held at the VCU Singleton Center, the Festival has been hosted by Richmond churches. The 2014 Festival was its first in its present venue, beautiful St. Luke Lutheran Church on Chippenham Parkway.

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