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Don Shirley


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Don Shirley was born Donald Waklbridge Shirley, 29 January 1927, Kingston, Jamaica. His first teacher was his mother. He began playing piano at age of 2-1/2 and made his first public performance at the age of 3. At the age of nine he was invited to study theory with Mittolovski at the Leningrad Conservatory of Music, and he later studied with famous organist “Conrad Bernier” and studied advanced composition with both Bernier and Dr.Thaddeus Jones at Catholic University of America in Washington D. C.

He made his concert debut at the age of 18 with the Boston Pops June 25, l945, with “Dean Dixon” as guest conductor playing the Tchaikovsky B-flat minor concerto. In l946 his first major composition was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

In l949 he received an invitation from the Haitian government to play at the Exposition International du Bi-Centenaire De Port-au-Prince followed by a request from Archbishop Le Goise and President Estime for a repeat performance the following week.

At Arthur Fiedler’s invitation he appeared with the Boston Pops in Chicago in June 1954. He performed the Tchaikovsky in the fall of 1968 with the Detroit Symphony. He has appeared as soloist with the Detroit Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the NBC Symphony, and the National Symphony Orchestra Washington to name only a few. Including his appearances with the trio, he averaged some 95 concerts a year.

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