A Letter from the Artistic Director
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the fifth annual Arts at Ascension concert series. The mission of Arts at Ascension is to provide music performed at the highest levels of artistry in the world to the community of Fountain Hills and North Scottsdale while also supporting fine arts education in our local Phoenix community. This season, the net proceeds from the four concerts we are excited to host will be donated to the fine arts department of St. Matthew's School, an inner-city Catholic K-8 school that provides a comprehensive education to further the lives of students and families. Since it's inception in 2014, Arts at Ascension has raised over $75,000 in support of fine arts education at St. Matthew School.
I'm delighted to announce that this 2019/2020 concert season will host The McLin/Campbell Duo, The NYC Collaborative Arts Ensemble, The Phoenix Brass Collective, and many friends of the performers!
As you peruse this website, please take a minute and consider becoming a season subscriber or concert sponsor to Arts at Ascension. You can find information about both on the 'Tickets' page of the site. As a subscriber or concert sponsor, you will be making a substantial difference for the students at St. Matthew's. I look forward to meeting you this season!
About Charles Szczepanek
Hailed by American Record Guide as “an accomplished interpreter of romantic piano” whose “playing is bold, powerful, and agile,” Charles Szczepanek enjoys a multifaceted musical career. He is a prizewinner in the Jacob Flier International Piano Competition, the Bösendorfer International Piano Competition, the Steinway Society of Chicago’s Most Promising Young Artist Competition, and of Arizona State University’s Concert of Soloists Competition. He additionally has performed and been interviewed on National Public Radio around the United States. He has appeared in concert at numerous halls including Gammage Auditorium and Katzin Concert Hall on the Arizona State University campus, the Hettenhausen Center for the Performing Arts in Lebanon, Illinois, the Performing Arts Center at Texas State University, and Harris Concert Hall at the University of Memphis, among many others.
A Mason & Hamlin Artist, Szczepanek is a pioneer, writing and arranging new virtuosic piano music. His latest album, Keys to the Cinema, was released in October of 2017 and features original arrangements of film score favorites by John Williams, James Horner, and more. His album Winter Day Dreaming features familiar Christmas melodies freshly arranged alongside two original compositions. The album was named Indie Music Digest’s Pick of the Week in December of 2013 and was called a “timeless collection” by music critic Cyrus Rhodes. The holiday season of 2016 brought two new music video releases of arrangements from this album, garnering noted attention with a total of over 100,000 views in just one month. Szczepanek’s album Flirting with the Dragon: Sonnets and Serpents, released on Soundset Recordings, features works by Franz Liszt alongside premiere recordings of works by Paul Aurandt, better known as Paul Harvey Jr: the creator of The Rest of the Story radio show. The album received critical acclaim with Fanfare Magazine noting, “This is beautiful playing,” and “[Szczepanek’s] performance… is vocally inflected, declamatory, and filled with grand romantic gestures.” Work on Szczepanek's own projects, as well as those collaborating with other musicians, has been streamed tens of millions of times via Spotify, YouTube, and other major platforms.
Szczepanek is the owner of Winding Road Studios, an audio production company specializing in classical music and film scoring. Through Winding Road Studios, Szczepanek has collaborated with, engineered, and/or produced many of the nation’s top classical performers and ensembles including The Guarneri String Quartet, Antonio Pompa-Baldi, The Millennial Choral Organization, and The Arizona and Phoenix Opera Companies.
Currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona, Szczepanek is the Founder and Artistic Director of Arts at Ascension, a concert series that benefits fine arts education for underprivileged students in inner-city schools. He also has toured as the collaborative pianist for one of the most celebrated tuba performers in the history of the instrument, Patrick Sheridan. Notably, Szczepanek has been featured in concert under the baton of Charles Bruffy with the Phoenix Chorale, a Grammy-winning choral ensemble. As a member of BMI, he arranges music for artists around the world; notably Paul Harvey Jr., Anna Graceman, finalist on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Salonnieres Ensemble and the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.
Szczepanek was a precollege student of Dr. Daniel Paul Horn (Wheaton College Conservatory of Music), and an undergraduate and graduate student of Professor Robert Hamilton (Arizona State University). He also studied with such notables as Vladimir Feltsman, Alexander Korsantia, Susan Starr, Phillip Kawin, and Paul Ostrovski.