Piano player prepares for prestigious state performance
17-year-old Michael Doerr is one of the top young musicians in the state... and it's no surprise. He practices 3-5 hours a day.
He also travels from Eagle River to Stevens Point every week to get lessons, but he doesn't do it alone.
"My mother, my sister, my father come down, so it really is a family affair," says Michael Doerr.
Michael studies with Dr. Raffi Besalyan, a professor at UWSP, who is very invested in Michael's future.
"It's a very special relationship with this particular family," Besalyan says. "It became kind of my family as well. We're very close, we talk a lot, we share things, and we care about each other a lot, and this is a very gifted and dedicated family."
the trips to Stevens Point also allow Michael to practice with another family member, his brother, Robert, who is a student at UWSP.
"He always comes into lessons. We always talk afterward, and we have a lot of fun," says Michael Doerr.
Not only do they have fun, but they offer each other support.
Michael is one of 4 finalists in the Bolz Young Artist Competition, an annual statewide event. Throughout the preliminary rounds, Robert sat right beside him, playing as his accompanist.
"My brother had actually accompanied me when I competed in the concerto in high school, so this was sort of a payback arrangement," jokes Robert Doerr.
Michael says Robert gave him the desire to play piano. He credits his brother for a lot of his success.
"I've seen how he's performed and I can draw from that, fine tune my own performances and selections of competitions," says Michael Doerr.
Wednesday night, Michael will have a new accompanist, the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
He and the orchestra will present a live performance of Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini."
"I've never performed live on radio or television, so that's an added stress factor," says Michael Doerr.
Michael's performance will be judged against the three other finalists could be awarded up to $2,000 in scholarship money, money that would go toward his future education at UWSP, where he'll continue to have support from his mentor and his family.
You can watch Michael's performance live Wednesday night at 6:45 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television.