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Andrei Strizek is a doctoral musicology student at the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign. He holds an assistantship at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, in the Events office, where he advances all of the School of Music concerts and several Marquee performances.

Andrei is an active performer, and is in demand as a music director and keyboardist for many musical theatre productions.

He earned his Bachelor's of Music Education from UW-Eau Claire in 2005, after studying with Dr Jerry Young, Dr Mark Heidel, Dr Randal Dickerson, and Dr Donald Patterson, and his Master's of Music Education from the University of Illinois in 2011.

He holds a wide range of interests, from musical theatre to jazz and popular music history to aesthetics, from the use of technology in education to audience development.

Please contact Andrei if you have any questions, comments or suggestions!

Read here for a full bio, or download Andrei's CV.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

In one week (!!) I hit the road again with the national tour of Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. Last year I was the replacement Keyboard 2, and I played about 30 shows in the 3 weeks I was with the show (most weeks we have 10 performances). I'll be on the entire tour this year. I'm looking forward to working with this great team again, and performing this fun and heartwarming show. If you're in any of the cities below, let me know so we can meet up! I'm looking forward to visiting some great cities - many of which I've never been to before!

Fah who foraze!


Carson McCullers on Beethoven 3

"After a while a new announcer started talking. He mentioned Beethoven. She had read in the library about that musician -- his name was pronounced with an a and spelled with double ee. He was a German fellow like Mozart. When he was living he spoke in a foreign language and lived in a foreign place -- like she watned to do. The announcer said they were going to play his third symphony. She only halfway listened because she wanted to walk some more and she didn't care much what they played. Then the music started. Mick raised her head and her first went up to her throat.

How did it come? For a minute the opening balance from once side to the other. Like a walk or a march. Like God strutting in the night. The outside of her was suddenly froze and only that first part of the music was hot inside her heart. She could not even hear what sounded after, but she sat there waiting and froze, with her first tight. After a while the music came again, harder and loud. It didn't have anything to do with God. This was her, Mick Kelly, walking in the daytime and by herself at night. In the hot sun and in the dark with all the plans and feelings. This music was her -- the real plain her.

She could not listen good enough to hear it all. The music boiled inside her. Which? To hang on to certain wonderful parts and think them over so that later she would not forget -- or should she let go and listen to each part that came without thinking or trying to remember? Golly! The whole world was this music and she could not listen hard enough. Then at least the opening music came again, with all the different instruments bunched together for each note like a hard, tight fist that socked at her heart. And the first part was over.

This music did not take a long time or a short time. It did not have anything to do with time going by at all. She sat with her arms held tight around her legs, biting her salty knee very hard. It might have been five minutes she listened or half the night. The second part was black-colored -- a slow march. Not sad, but lik the whole world was dead and black and there was no use thinking back how it was before. One of those horn kind of instruments played a sad and silver tune. Then the music rose up angry and with excitement underneath. And finally the black march again.

But maybe the last part of teh symphony was the music she loved the best -- glad and like the greatest people in the world running and sprining up in a hard, free way. Wonderful music like this was the worst hurt there could be. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen."

-Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Minnesota Orchestra performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Op. 55.


Playlist w/e 10/12/13


Anatomy of a Song: "Losing My Mind"



Frank Ocean's Television Debut

This Is Not a One Man Cult

Music is miraculous in that one can say everything in such a way that those in the know can understand it all, and yet one’s own secrets, those which one will not even admit to oneself, remain undivulged.” – Arnold Schoenberg

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It was by chance that I had the TV on late Monday night and caught the television debut of hip-hop artist Frank Ocean. Only half-paying attention, I heard Jimmy Fallon introduce his musical guest. I didn’t have time to process the name before the opening organ chords and the plaintive voice of a scrawny 24 year old drew my rapt attention for the next four minutes. On screen was a man expressing his love for another man – the same man who made news last week for the very same thing.

The blogosphere exploded last week when Frank Ocean posted a note on his Tumblr telling a story, from when he was 19 years old, about the love he felt for close friend. This was big news in the stereotypical masculine and somewhat misogynist hip-hop culture (a culture that Frank Ocean has contributed to in the past). And now, we were given the opportunity to hear the words direct from Ocean himself, singing “Bad Religion” in what was apparently a last-minute move by Fallon’s producers.

Image via Wikimedia CommonsBut is that what the performance of “Bad Religion” was about? Most of what I’ve read says that it was. I’m not so sure. Granted, the signs are hard to miss, from Ocean “coming out” last week (he never actually said that he’s gay) to the masculine pronouns. But “Bad Religion” is more than a gay love story. It’s about unrequited love, a near-universal emotion found in stories from Greek mythology to Nicholas Sparks movies.

Maybe we should be ecstatic that we heard a young guy declare, “I could never make him love me.” It’s a sentence that, as a gay man, I can relate to, as I’m sure countless other gay men and straight women can. But unreciprocated love isn’t just an emotion felt by gays or women; the pronouns in this song don’t matter. The universality of the message, the passion of the his singing – the melding of a blues and gospel confessional with contemporary hip-hop – that’s what made Ocean’s performance so noteworthy.

I know there are people who will disagree with me. Hell, there’s even a part of me that wants to exclaim, “Yes! A gay hip-hop artist singing about it on television!” and be done with it, QED. It’s a big moment for our nation and culture. But if we can look past the heteronormativeness in nearly every other love song ever written, we can look past the homosexual subtext of “Bad Religion.” We need to. Our society is no longer one where should have strict divides between sexuality, race, or any other cultural markers.

I can’t predict the future or fight cynicism. Maybe Ocean “came out” last week to generate buzz for his album; it’s likely the album won’t remain on top of the iTunes charts for much longer. But I think that on Monday night we saw the debut of an artist breaking away from his band and from behind the scenes of other artists, and reaching out by telling a story full of raw emotion. Doing so he pulled us into his world, and sometimes that’s exactly what we need music performances to do. Am I naïve enough to think that this performance alone will change our perceptions of homosexuality? No. But it was still a great moment to witness.