Acclaimed pianist Susan Keith Gray, D.M.A., of the University of South Dakota toured Thailand recently under the sponsorship of the United States Embassy to promote cultural understanding. As part of a cultural outreach tour and as a member of the Kobayashi/Gray Duo, along with violinist Laura Kobayashi, the tour included seven concerts and several master classes and workshops.
The full classical concert program included works by Edvard Grieg, Irene Poldowski, Alfred Schnittke and American composers Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, William Bolcom and Emma Lou Diemer. The concerts were held at AUA Bangkok, The HUG School of Arts in Khon Kaen, Nakhon Phanom University in Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat University in Sakon Nakhon, Maejo and Payap Universities in Chiang Mai, the Chiang Rai Youth Symphony in Chiang Rai and the Mahidol College of Music in Bangkok.
Formed in 1990 when both were students completing doctoral degrees at the University of Michigan, the Kobayashi/Gray Duo has toured around the world and continues to perform standard repertoire as well as works by women composers.
Notable venues played include the Dame Myra Hess Series and radio broadcast at the Chicago Cultural Center, and museums and festivals, including the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Toledo Art Museum, the Music Teachers National Association, the College Music Society, the International Festival of Women Composers and the Hot Springs Music Festival.
The duo has recorded two CDs of works by women composers: "Feminissimo! Women Playing Music by Women" (2008) and "Boldly Expressive! Music by Women" (2000).
In addition to being a pianist, Gray is a professor of studio piano, collaborative piano and class piano at USD. She is also a member of the award-winning Rawlins Piano Trio. With the Rawlins Piano Trio, she has toured in Taiwan and Panama and has recorded four CDs of American piano trios. Individual awards include prizes in the Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Artist Competition, and solo appearances with the South Dakota Symphony, Dakota Chamber, Spartanburg, Savannah, Huron, Cherokee and the University of South Dakota Orchestras. Other recordings include songs of African-American composers and she has served on the Instrumental Accompanying Faculty at the Music Academy of the West and as staff accompanist for national competitions.
Gray holds degrees in piano performance from Converse College and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Chamber Music and Accompanying from the University of Michigan. Gray joined the University of South Dakota faculty and the Rawlins Piano Trio in 1995.
Kobayashi leads a varied career as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, adjudicator and teacher. As a performer, Kobayashi has participated in numerous music festivals in the United States, Norway, Brazil and Argentina and has appeared as a soloist with the Seattle and Spokane Symphonies, Grand Junction Symphony, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra and the Salta Chamber Orchestra in Salta, Argentina. Currently on the faculty of George Mason University and a free-lance violinist and private teacher in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Kobayashi has served on the faculties at West Virginia University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the University of Georgia and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and has performed as a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Kobayashi earned degrees from The Juilliard School and Yale University and the Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan.
For more information about the Kobayashi/Gray Duo, go to www.kobayashigrayduo.com or visit the duo's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KobayashiGrayDuo.