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Peter Sterbach – Biography

Peter Sterbach has dedicated his whole life to music. He is a performer, producer, recording artist, author, consultant, music instructor, dance instructor and an award-winning composer. He plays several instruments covering a wide range of styles. Due to his unique approach as a teacher, he has been called "the Zen Master of piano instruction."

Peter began performing professionally at the age of 12. A few years later, he performed with his band, The Big Town Boys, to an audience of over 22,000 people at "Maple Leaf Gardens" in Toronto, Canada, following a four-month cross-country tour. The next year, his band was featured at the "International Garden of Stars" at Montreal's "Expo '67 World's Fair."

Over the years, Peter has shared the stage with such notable celebrities as Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa, The Who, The Guess Who, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, The Band, Neville Brothers, Doobie Brothers, Tito Puente, Viva Brasil, Airto, Mango Santamaria, Flora Purim and many others.

Peter has done countless performances, cross-country tours, studio recordings, TV and radio appearances, and benefit concerts for dozens of charitable organizations.

Some of the more local venues where Peter has performed include, in Santa Cruz, California: Cocoanut Grove Ballroom, Civic Auditorium, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Catalyst, Chaminade, Shadowbrook, Crow's Nest. Elsewhere in California: Kezar Stadium, La Peña, The Carnival, San Francisco; Garden City, Fiesta Ballroom, Le Baron Hotel, San Jose; Touché's, Quiet Canon, Montebello Country Club, Los Angeles; Cibo's, Doubletree Inn, Monterey; Highlands Inn, Nepenthe's, Big Sur; The Foundry, Nevada City.

For more than ten years, he was a dance accompanist for the following genres of dance: ballet, jazz and modern (at UCSC and Cabrillo College, Santa Cruz, California), ballroom, Israeli folk, African, Brazilian and Middle Eastern.

Peter has been teaching piano, voice, flutes and percussion for 30 years. Thousands of students of all ages have come to him to learn everything from Classical to Jazz, Rock, Blues, Boogie, Ragtime, Salsa and other ethnic styles. Peter's comfortable home studio, conveniently located in Santa Cruz, provides a seven-foot Yamaha grand piano, various hand drums and over three dozen flutes, a waiting room with a practice keyboard, and even a fenced-in play area for children.

How It All Started

Peter Sterbach exhibited a predisposition to music at a very young age. Though scarcely tall enough to reach the piano keys, he was drawn to the fascinating sounds they made. His mother, an accomplished pianist herself, quickly recognized his potential. She fostered her son's interest in music with stories of the great composers, and by exposing him to selected recordings of the classics. She enrolled him in private piano instruction when he was five years old and often treated him to visits to the symphony.

At the age of 10, Peter made quite an impression with his recital performance of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody, No. 2. Soon afterwards, he started exploring composition and improvisation. This he attributes to the influence of his two older brothers, who introduced him to the sounds of jazz and to such legendary musicians as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Billy Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Ray Charles.

His discipline and eagerness to learn earned him First Class Honors in school. During and after his school years, he received 15 years of formal musical training from the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, Canada, and Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts. This was then followed by extensive studies in ethnomusicology, supplemented by numerous workshops.

Some of the many people that Peter has studied under include: Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Seiji Ozawa, Pawel Skrzypek, James Gallway, G.S. Sachdev, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Herb Pomeroy, Gary Burton, Seth Riggs. More locally: Smith Dobson, Lisa Spector, John Orlando, Paul Contos, Armando "El Mafufo" Fojaco, Fred Catero, Alex Da Silva, Ricardo Sanchez.

Needless to say, Peter's career is characterized by diversity. Some of the other capacities in which he has served include: choral director, manager, promoter, arranger, assistant studio engineer, lecturer, photographer, graphic artist, fashion model and actor.


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