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Michael Malis & Ling-Ju Lai Piano Duo

  • The Baroque Room 275 East 4th Street #280 Saint Paul, MN 55101 USA (map)

Michael Malis & Ling-Ju Lai, piano
Michael Malis & Ling-Ju Lai Duo

$25 | $15 Seniors & Students

Michael Malis and Ling-Ju Lai’s relationship as a piano duo has evolved over the course of the last decade. Meeting in the hallways of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, their shared late-night practicing habits brought together these two kindred spirits and formed the foundation of a lasting musical friendship. 

Lai approaches the piano through the lens of counterpoint and polyphony, delighting in the nuance of the melodic line. Malis’s approach is grounded in improvisation, finding joy in spontaneous musical invention. Although Lai and Malis come from vastly different musical backgrounds, their love for the piano is their common language. Their duo program is a celebration of the conversation between two different art forms.

Lai will present traditional, shorter pieces by composers such as Schubert, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and a new original work of her own. Malis will perform his original compositions, along with jazz standards. As a duo, Lai and Malis will perform Bach’s Allemande from the French Suite in Eb Major, as well as new a original composition of Malis’.

Michael Malis is a pianist and composer based in Detroit, MI. In July of 2015, he self-released his debut album as a leader, “Lifted from the No of All Nothing”, featuring all original music by Malis. The Detroit Free Press called it “an uncommonly mature and distinctive debut… The music is loose and spontaneous, alert to dynamics and textural variety while balancing formal detail and discipline with freedom.” It was described by Hot House Jazz Guide (NYC) as “cover[ing] a broad range of free expression. [Malis] bridges the gap between original composed, complex material and the spontaneity of improvisation.” His trio, featured on the album, has toured in the United States and Canada, and in September 2016, they performed at the Detroit International Jazz Festival.

In August 2017, he releases an album of duets with saxophonist Marcus Elliot, entitled “Balance”. The duo has been named an Artist-in-Residence at the Chamber Music Society of Detroit for their 2017-2018 season. As part of that residency, they will be presented in concert as part of CMSD’s brand new “Jazz Works” concert series, and will also be involved in a new educational initiative pioneered by CMSD which will bring jazz to students in public schools utilizing an innovative merger of technology and live performance.

As a pianist, he has shared the stage with a diverse array of musicians, including notables such as Marcus Belgrave, Tyshawn Sorey, William Hooker, Jaribu Shahid, Ken Filiano, Andrew Bishop, Dennis Coffey, and Marion Hayden. He has performed at the Kennedy Center, The Stone (NYC), and the Detroit Institute of Arts, among other venues.  As a composer, he has composed scores for film and theater, which have garnered awards and critical acclaim, and have reached international audiences. And as an organizer, he is cofounder of the non-profit Polyfold Musical Arts Collective, and the cofounder of the Detroit Free Arts Music Festival.

He started playing the piano at age five, and started writing music shortly thereafter. In high school, he began his studies in earnest with Detroit jazz piano legend Bess Bonnier. After high school, he attended the University of Michigan, where he studied with the eminent jazz pianist Geri Allen. He is currently a Master’s student at Wayne State University, studying composition with Jon Anderson. More Information at

Ling-Ju Lai, a native of Taiwan, has garnered consistently favorable reviews of her creative interpretation of Baroque keyboard music, particularly the music of J.S. Bach. Sir András Schiff expresses of her, “Ms. Lai has a questing musical mind. Her approach is unusual and unique…a very gifted musician and pianist.“ The Baltimore Sun writes, “The depth of the sound sinks in with startling poignancy as Ling-Ju Lai lets the notes linger long in the air…a moment of musical insight to savor.”

As a concert pianist, Ms. Lai has performed in leading international venues and participated in acclaimed music festivals, such as the Royal Academy of Music in London, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Town Hall in Bruges, The National Theatre in Taiwan, The Bach Festival in Leipzig and The William Kapell International Piano Competition in Maryland. She was named the “Rising Star” by two of Taiwan’s most prestigious performance organizations: The National Taiwan Concert Hall and The National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Lai is best known for her emotive and incisive performance, presenting All-Bach programs in New York, Boston, Chicago, St. Paul/Minneapolis, University of Michigan, Susquehanna University, Ateneo de Madrid and the Menéndez Pelayo University in Santander, Spain. She recently debuted with the Bachiana Filarmônica Orchestra in São Paulo, Brazil, performing J.S. Bach’s D Minor Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, collaborating with celebrated Bach conductor, Mr. João Carlos Martins. Ms. Lai’s debut album includes Bach’s Concerto in D Minor and Italian Concerto, and is available at

A featured artist of Primera Fila Concert Series at International Menéndez Pelayo University in Spain and The Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago, with live broadcast on WFMT 98.7 fm, Ms. Lai performs at notable venues such as the Royal Magdalena Palace in Santander and University of Alcalá in Spain, Blüthner Concert Series in London, and opens The 2017-18 Season Midtown Series at Chamber Music Society of Detroit with Bach’s Goldberg Variations. More Information at