Recent seasons have been extremely exciting for concert pianist and passionate cultural activist George Lepauw. Most recently named Chicagoan of the Year (2012) for Classical Music in the Chicago Tribune and listed in Chicago Magazine’s Classical Music “Power List” (2013), George represents the ideal 21st century musician, intensely focused on his art and wholly engaged with the world.
In 2007 he founded The Journal of a Musician, a print magazine on culture and music; in 2008 he founded the Beethoven Project Trio (BPT) with violinist Sang Mee Lee and cellist Wendy Warner; in 2009 he founded the International Beethoven Project, a non-profit organization focused on revolutionizing classical culture, as well as the Beethoven Spirit Award, an international prize established to recognize exceptional human beings who have used culture to make the world a better place (winners include Hervé and Isabelle de la Vauvre, Otto von Habsburg and Zarin Mehta); in 2010 he gave his New York City debut with the BPT at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall (“Mr. Lepauw played with sparkling clarity […] in elegant partnership with Ms. Lee and Ms. Warner” The New York Times); in 2011 he founded the IBP Beethoven Festival and the IBP PROMETHEUS groups (Orchestra Prometheus Chicago, Prometheus Chamber Ensemble, Prometheus Baroque Ensemble and Choir, Prometheus Modern).
On March 1, 2009, George performed the World Premiere in Chicago of a rediscovered piano trio by Beethoven (with the Beethoven Project Trio), and recorded the work along with two other lesser known piano trios of Beethoven for Cedille Records, with legendary 17-time Grammy-winning producer (of RCA Victor fame) Max Wilcox, which opened at number 24 on the Classical Billboard Charts in 2010.
“A prodigious pianist” (Chicago Tribune), George is very committed to the Chicago concert and cultural scene. He has most recently performed concertos of Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel and Gershwin, and has collaborated regularly with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and of the Lyric Opera of Chicago in chamber music programs ranging from the most classical to the most modern works. He has premiered solo works by such noted composers as Kirsten Broberg, Ken Ueno and Pulitzer-Prize winner Shulamit Ran. George’s playing is characterized by its “singing tone” (New York Times) and its “swashbuckling” and “full-blooded” nature (Chicago Tribune). George is also deeply engaged with the development of Chicago’s cultural ambitions, and is involved in several projects to bring attention through the arts to the Chicago River and other aspects of the city.
George began his studies at the Rachmaninov Conservatory in Paris, France at the age of three, and soon after was accepted by Madame Aïda Barenboim as her youngest-ever student, with the exception of her son, pianist and conductor, Daniel Barenboim. George went on to study with Russian virtuoso, Elena Varvarova who prepared him for his first public concert at the age of ten in Paris, performing Beethoven sonatas. He then pursued his studies with Vladimir Krainev and Rena Shereshevskaya, with additional guidance from Maria Curcio, Brigitte Engerer, Carlo-Maria Giulini, and in jazz from Bernard Maury and Christopher Culpo. Throughout his formative years, his father Didier, then a First Violin with the Orchestre de Paris, coached him regularly. George does indeed come from a musical family: his grandfather, Roger Lepauw, was Principal Viola of the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Paris and later of the Orchestre de Paris, and his sister Consuelo is a violinist based in Boston.
George obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with a double major in English Literature and History. While in college, George co-founded the Georgetown University French Cultural Association and served as both Vice-President and President, receiving the Georgetown University McCarthy Award for his leadership. He was also a member of an elite acapella group, the Georgetown University Chamber Singers, and sang at many distinguished functions including events at the White House for President Clinton. George received his Masters of Music in Piano Performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where he studied with Ursula Oppens and James Giles. George was the recipient of the first Earl Wild Foundation Prize, enabling him to study with the legendary (late) pianist at his home in Columbus, Ohio, in 2006.
George is a frequent guest on Chicago’s classical station 98.7 WFMT, and has appeared on local, national and international radio and television. His traditional concert attire is generously sponsored by Brooks Brothers and his modern concert attire is generously sponsored and tailored by HAJ Designs.