a r t i s t s
Carl B. Schmidt, Professor Emeritus of Music History and Culture at Towson University in Maryland, received his MA and PhD
from Harvard, his BA from Stanford, and enjoyed conducting studies with Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau, France. He has
written extensively on French and Italian opera and ballet, and two members of Les Six: Francis Poulenc and Georges Auric.
His Poulenc and Auric catalogues have established the numbering systems now in use for each, and his Entrancing Muse is the
most significant English-language Poulenc biography. He has also edited four Poulenc works including the famous Flute Sonata
and early Trois Pastorales, the modern-day premiere and first recording of which were both by Ms. Erdely-Sayo.
Recently Schmidt has turned to American studies. His book concerning Randall Thompson’s iconic Alleluia was published in
2010, and The Music of Randall Thompson (1899-1984): A Documented Catalogue, co-authored with his wife Betsey, was
released in January 2015. A biography of Thompson is now finished, but not yet published, and they have recently edited his
early string quartet The Wind in the Willows. In October 2015 A History of the Handel Choir of Baltimore (1935-2013): “Music
Spread Thy Voice Around” was also published. Schmidt lectures widely in the Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington area and has
received significant grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University, and Music and Letters.
Schmidt lives in Baltimore with Betsey, his wife of nearly fifty years. They have three grown children and five thriving
grandchildren. Performing and recording with Ms. Erdely-Sayo over the years remains one of Carl’s greatest pleasures.
Hailed as "poetic" by The Daily Telegraph, praised for her Chopin interpretation which "mixed excitement with eloquence" by the
Gramophone Chopin Express, French pianist Hélène Tysman first graced the international music scene as a laureate of the
16th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. A few years earlier she had been awarded First Prize in the European
Darmstadt Chopin Piano Competition (Germany) and was prizewinner in England (Newport International Competition For Young
Pianists), Germany (Nauen International Piano Competition), China (Hong-Kong International Piano Competition) and the United
States (Minneapolis International Piano-e-Competition). She is also a laureate of the Georges Cziffra Foundation in Senlis
(France) and the Chopin Foundation in Hanover. Her Chopin interpretations, acclaimed by critics and audiences around the
world, have led to the 2010 release of an all-Chopin recording for Oehms Classics.
After graduating from the Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP) where she studied with Pierre-Laurent Aimard, she went to Vienna to
work with Oleg Maisenberg and then to Germany (Hamburg and Weimar) where she obtained her master's degree under the
guidance of Grigory Gruzman.
As a soloist she has played with orchestras such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Russian Chamber Philharmonic
St. Petersburg, the Minnesota Orchestra, the North Czech Philharmonic Teplice Orchestra, and the Koszalin Philharmonic
Orchestra, and with conductors such as Christoph Warren-Green, Mark Russell Smith and Antoni Wit. Her recital appearances
have taken her throughout Europe, and to Israel, Morocco, Russia and Asia, performing in prestigious concerts halls including
the Laeiszhalle and Neue Weimarhalle in Germany and the Cité de la Musique and Théâtre Mogador in France.
She has also been featured on the international arts television station Mezzo and on French national radio. An accomplished
chamber musician, she has released a Schumann recording with the soloists of Orchestre de Paris (Indesens Records, 2012).
Attracted toward wider artistic horizons, Hélène Tysman also collaborates with artists from other disciplines including a series of
performances with the celebrated French actor Francis Huster (Chopin/Musset) and a Debussy/Poe show with the
multi-disciplinary artist Yanowski.
Elizabeth Peña, Narrator and Co-Director of the Piano on the Rocks International Festival, is currently the director of the
Spanish Language School in Philadelphia. After studying in Cali, Colombia, where she was born, she immigrated to the United
States in 1991. Her interest and love for languages took her to a different path. She specialized in the field of languages and
became an expert in teaching Spanish as a second language. With a great talent in prose and narrative, Elizabeth Peña
received a proposal to work with artist Sandrine Erdely-Sayo. In 2010, she narrated Platero y Yo in New York City for the annual
NPR conference, repeating it in 2014 in Carnegie Hall. Since then she has performed it in many different states including New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Texas and Arizona.
In 2012 Elizabeth Peña, made the recording of Platero y Yo in Texas with pianist/composer Sandrine Erdely-Sayo followed by a
second recording called "Intelligent Series" of The Dove and the Jaguar. With her lyrical voice, she brings words to life and life
Sandrine Erdely-Sayo, pianist, composer and Artistic Director of the Piano on the Rocks International Festival, began piano
studies at age four and has won numerous prizes across a career that began in Perpignan, France. She continued her musical
studies with Denyse Rivière in Paris and with Christian Manen at the Paris Superior Conservatory where she received first prize
for specialization in solfège. There, she pursued special studies in harmony, counterpoint and fugue. At fourteen she wrote
Three Pieces for Chamber Orchestra that were played at the Chatelet Theater in Paris.
She became the youngest recipient of the French Minister of Culture Prize at the age of thirteen, and four years later won first
prize at the Scène Française International Piano Competition in Paris. She was also a prize winner at the Ibla International
Competition in Italy and a semi-finalist at the Torneo Internazionale di Musica in Rome.
In 1990 she came to Philadelphia to study with Susan Starr at the University of the Arts, receiving a master's degree in piano and
composition. Her Chicago debut took place at Preston Bradley Hall for the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert in 1999, and in
2014 she made her Carnegie Hall debut. She has played the major repertoire by Poulenc, Messiaen, Bartok, performing as a
soloist, in chamber music and with orchestras in Italy, France, Spain, Argentina, the United States, and for radio and television in
An active composer and recording artist, Sandrine has recorded the integral piano music of Primitivo Lazaro for Randolfo
Records, as well as music by Poulenc, Liszt, Thalberg, Scriabin, Debussy, Christian Manen, and Piazolla. She made the first
recording of Poulenc's early Trois Pastorales (discovered by Dr. Schmidt), that she played at Towson in 1995. As a composer,
she has written a number of works including Platero y Yo for piano and narrrator and the Hymn to Sedona that was nominated
for the American Song-Writing Award. She is also a member of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry and of the
Mega Society. From Bach to Liszt, from Fauré to Yiddish and Contemporary music, Sandrine Erdely-Sayo is an eclectic pianist
who handles a range of styles and emotions with the greatest of ease. She has been described as "electrifying" (Philadelphia
Inquirer), and as "A pianist with idealism, passion and lyricism" (La Prensa, Spain).
Soprano, Dr. Barbara Di Toro, is a native of Glenside, Pennsylvania. She earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in
vocal performance at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance and most recently completed a doctorate in Higher
Education Administration at Temple. Barbara’s academic achievements include the Boyer-Griswald Award, the Milliard E.
Gladfelter Scholarship, a Presidential Scholar Award, and membership in the Pi Kappa Lambda (Music Honor Society), Golden
Key National Honor Society, and Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.
Her operatic roles include Susanna in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and First Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Monica in Menotti’s
The Medium, Amour in Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, and Sr. Anne of the Cross in Poulenc’s Dialogue of the Carmelites among
others. Barbara has also performed roles in musical theater such as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Robin in Godspell (Keswick
Theater) and Patti in the Wyncote Players’ production of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Active as a church soloist, she is
the soprano soloist and section leader at Calvary Presbyterian Church, and also cantors at two other local churches. In addition
to maintaining a private voice studio, Barbara’s teaching experiences have included lecturer in voice at Temple University, music
director and co-producer of the annual musical theater productions at Gwynedd Mercy Academy H.S., and classroom music
teacher at the elementary and pre-school levels. Barbara currently serves as Associate Director of Temple University Music
Preparatory Division of the Boyer College of Music and Dance and joined the Arcadia University voice faculty in the summer of
A b o u t t h e A r t i s t s
© 2017 Piano On The Rocks
Barbara Di Toro
Cynthia Raim, who was unanimously chosen as the First Prize winner of the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition, has
been acclaimed for her concerto and recital appearances throughout the United States and abroad. In summing up the
performance that won her the coveted Clara Haskil prize, La Suisse (Geneva) noted that “Miss Raim showed a musical nature
that has gone far beyond technical mastery: Without affectation, without useless bravado, Cynthia Raim has imprinted herself
on us and cannot escape our admiration. Le Monde (Paris) called her “a new Clara Haskil.”
Ms. Raim has won the prestigious Pro Musicis Award and, in 1987, was the first recipient of the “Distinguished Artist Award” of
The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia (America’s oldest continuing musical organization), which was given for “outstanding
achievement and artistic merit.”
Ms. Raim has made numerous recital as well as radio and television appearances. She has appeared as soloist with leading
orchestras in such major cities as Detroit, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Prague, Hamburg, Lausanne and Vienna. She
has also participated in many leading international music festivals including Marlboro, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Meadow Brook,
Grand Teton, Bard, Mostly Mozart, Santa Fe, Luzern and Montreux. She has recorded for Gallo, Pantheon, and Connoisseur
Before graduating in 1977 from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski,
Ms. Raim had won the Festorazzi Award for Most Promising Pianist at Curtis, as well as first prizes in the J.S. Bach International
and Three Rivers National Piano Competitions.