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The Piano

In this episode, we investigate the truth about the biggest instrument in the orchestra: the piano. Our guest, Mark Irchai, not only tells us about the piano, but he plays some fantastic music for us as well!

Guest Bio

As a first-generation-American pianist and conductor, Mark Irchai is uniquely positioned to foster connections through music. As both artist and entrepreneur, he seeks to not only build these connections through his own performances across the globe, but also to empower others to do so as well.

Mark’s musicality and approach to his artistry and programming have earned him numerous accolades, including 1st prizes from the XIV International Orfeo Music Competition, the Golden Classical Music Awards, and the IMKA International Internet Music Competition. He has been heard in numerous concert halls around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Musikschule Sterzing, and the Embassy of Turkey to the United States. And, Mark regularly performs with prominent artists from institutions such as the National Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic, Peabody Institute, and the US Army Orchestra.

As an entrepreneur, Mark first founded his own concert series, Mark Irchai presents, where he performs solo, as well as collaborates both as pianist and conductor with over a hundred musicians, in skill levels ranging from student and amateur to professional. Bringing musicians to packed houses across the DC Metro area, he observed the possibilities of community building around connections in music. This idea eventually developed, with the help of many friends and colleagues, into the Odyssey Arts Initiative, or Odyssey – an initiative founded for the advancement of art through the open inclusion of diverse identities, perspectives, and backgrounds.

Mark is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Piano Performance at the Mannes School of Music, studying with Simone Dinnerstein. He previously studied piano at George Mason University with Anna Balakerskaia, and studied conducting both at George Mason and at the International Institute for Advanced Conducting after Ilya Musin.

For more information, please visit markirchai.com.

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Episodes

The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is a big trail you can hike on!

In our first episode, we’re checking out our first big thing: the Appalachian Trail! Our expert guest, Mills Kelly, will take us through how big the trail is and why it’s so important.

Guest bio

Mills Kelly is the Director of George Mason’s award-winning Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM). Since 2001, Kelly  has been either co-director or principal investigator on three major website projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities ($790,000 total funding). Two of these projects, created with his colleague Professor Kelly Schrum, won the James Harvey Robinson Prize in 2007 from the American Historical Association. His current digital public history project centers on the history of the Appalachian Trail, and this project has already generated preliminary funding from the NEH and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.