Published On: Tue, Aug 7th, 2012

Concert Pianist shares his passion of classical music

By Malcolm Shields

Concert pianist and recording artist Michael J. Battle is an established talent in the classical piano genre.  As a young kid, he discovered his talent to excel at playing the piano. With a promising future,Battle nearly never became the artist that he is today.

Born in upstate New York,Battle’s passion for playing the piano began at a young age.

“When I was seven or eight, my aunt had a piano and I would always go to it,”Battle said. “I would always play on it without anyone telling me.”

His first performance in front of an audience was at 12 years old. “At that age, you don’t really care and you’re not really thinking too much about it. I was kind of the free-spirited kid where I wasn’t thinking too much about it,” he said. “I just went out there and did my thing.” His first concert resulted in a standing ovation from the audience.

Over time, the easy-going budding pianist began to struggle with the nervousness of performing on stage. “I started getting older and I realized that I was playing in front of all of these people. It really made me nervous,”Battle said. “The more nervous I got, the more I did not want to play the piano.”

Battle went through a period of months where he completely stopped playing the piano. He described himself at the time as a type of person when pushed to do something that he did not want to do, would resist. After time away, the urge to play began to intensify.

“The piano kept calling me and I missed it,”Battle said. “It was then that I decided to go back [playing] on my own and things changed from there.”  Due to the strict assistance of his instructor Jovita Bernard,Battlecontinued to grow as a pianist.

Battle went under the tutelage of the world-renowned musical school the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music. Although the school is based in London,Battle was able to receive lessons while inNew York and took his two major annual exams in Boston.

Battle would earn his Diploma Degree in Piano Performance. Battle describes his music is a mixture of classical and contemporary rhythm. “I try to mix my music with classical and modernism,” Battle said.

With $300 dollars in his pocket and the desire to make his passion his profession, Battle relocated to South Florida. By chance, in job he had moving pianos; he met his current manager, Tom O’Keefe. “When I moved pianos, I play for them all the time because you never know who you are going to meet,” Battle said.

That one instant of Battle playing persuaded O’Keefe to sign him to his record label. His first album, “Chopin After Midnight” was released in 2009. The album peaked to ninth on the classical billboard charts. The album was influence by the composer Frédéric Chopin. “His music spoke to me more than anyone else’s music ever did,” Battle said of Chopin.

Battle’s second album, which he completely composed, was released in Feb. 2012 called “Reflection.” This album was inspired by the style Chopin and had a personal tribute to his mother, Carol, who passed away from cancer.

“While she was ill, I wrote my very first original and I dedicated it to her,” Battle said. “Every time I compose, I compose with her in mind. Every time I perform; I perform with her in mind.” Before he begins any of his performances, Battle tells the audience of the influence his mother had on him. With his manager, Battle co-founded the organization “Battle for a Cure” with the American Cancer Society.

Currently, Battle is providing his knowledge and talent to aspiring pianist in South Florida. He teaches throughout the week and provides private piano lessons to individuals that are serious about improving their skills.Battle describes his style as challenging yet provides a laid back style of teaching to his pupils.

He teaches the foundation techniques of piano that allows students to advance to higher level of performance.Battle is flexible and also teaches chords and jazz structure and pop tunes that interest his students. “I dedicate my time and my patience to them so that they can move ahead in every lesson I have with them,”Battle said. Many of his pupils have transitioned from a beginner’s level to an advanced level of piano performance.

Battle’s next performance will be on Aug. 19 in upstate New York and will also be promoting his album “Reflection.”

For information on how to contact Michael J. Battle, visit http://www.michaeljbattle.com/

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