Praised for her “impressive pianistic range” (International Piano), “considerable power” (All-Music Guide), “rhythmically incisive and lively performances” (Fanfare), “brilliant technique and depth of artistic interpretation” (Ukrainian Weekly) and “extremely natural piano sound” (Music Web International), pianist NATALYA SHKODA is one of today’s most dynamic and exciting artists, master teachers and competition adjudicators. Natalya Shkoda holds degrees and diplomas from Arizona State University (Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance, 2006 and Master of Music in Piano Performance, 2001), Kharkiv State National Kotlyarevsky University of the Arts (Diplomas with Distinction in Piano and Musicology and Concert Performer’s Qualification, 1999) and Kharkiv Special Music School for Gifted Children in Ukraine (Diploma with Gold Medal in Piano and Composition, 1994). Her major piano teachers include Bella Yukht, Dr. Sergei Polusmiak, the Honored Artist of Ukraine, and Professor Walter Cosand.
Since presenting her first solo recital and winning the National Young Composers Competition in Kiev, Ukraine, at the age thirteen, Natalya Shkoda performed over three hundred solo, accompanying and chamber music recitals in Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, France and throughout the U.S.A. She has also appeared as a soloist with the orchestras nationwide including MasterWorks Symphony in Houghton, New York (1997 and 2000), Southwest Symphony in Mesa and Chandler, Arizona (2002), Paradise Symphony Orchestra in Paradise, California (2010) and North State Symphony in both Chico and Redding, California (2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015).
Natalya Shkoda has won numerous awards in the areas of performance, composition and musical criticism. As an outstanding young composer, Natalya Shkoda was a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship in Ukraine in 1993. She is a Laureate of the National Competitions for the Young Composers in Kiev, Ukraine (1990 and 1993) and Odessa, Ukraine (1996); Winner of the Young Journalists’ Contests in Kharkiv, Ukraine (1998 and 1999); Winner of the Joseph and Ida Klatzkin Competition for the Contemporary American Keyboard Music in Tempe, Arizona, in both Harpsichord (2000) and Piano (2005); and Winner of the MasterWorks Festival Concerto Competition in Houghton, New York (1997 and 2000).
Natalya Shkoda’s performances and compositions were widely broadcast on three continents by Kharkiv State Radio and Television Company, Feodosiya State Radio Company and Uzhgorod State Radio Company in Ukraine; BBC Radio 3 “In-Tune” in London, U.K.; Radio Sweden “Kaleidoscope” in Stockholm; Klara Radio in Brussels, Belgium; KBAQ Production Studio in Phoenix, AZ; WCNY Classic FM in Syracuse, New York; WUAL Alabama Public Radio in Huntville; KUAT Arizona Public Media in Tucson; KOHM South Plains Classical Radio Station in Lubbock, TX; NPR-KTEP: National Public Radio for Southwest in El Paso, TX; Ukrainian TV Company “Uzir” and WFMT Classical Music Radio in Chicago, IL; WRTI in Philadelphia, PA; KHPR Hawaiian Public Radio; New Orleans Public Radio; KING FM Classical Radio in Seattle, WA; KUAF Classical Music Radio in Northern Arkansas; WCVE Classical Music in Richmond, VA; KZFR Studio 416 in Chico, CA; Winnipeg’s Classic 107 and CKWR “Women in Music” in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada; Radio UNAM in Mexico City; Australian Broadcasting Corporation Classic and “Fine Music-Classically Melbourne” in Australia; and Radio New Zealand “Classical Morning” and “Cadenza” in Wellington.
Natalya Shkoda’s performances in the U.S. include recitals at the prestigious Ukrainian Institute of America in New York City, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago and Washington Group Cultural Fund Recital Series in Alexandria, VA, as well as concerts and master classes at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas at El Paso, State University of New York at New Paltz, the Northern Arizona University, Texas Tech University, the University of San Diego, Arizona State University, Phoenix Music Teachers’ Association, Lubbock Christian University, Friendship Village of Tempe, Music Teachers Association of California, Chico Summer Music Academy, El Paso Music Teachers Association, Abiquiu Chamber Music Festival, Crocker Art Museum Recital Series, Sandy Spring Museum Recital Series, “Bravo” Piano Series at CSU, Sacramento, Saddleback College Piano Recital Series and numerous performances at CSU, Chico.
Being in a high demand as an artist and clinician, Dr. Natalya Shkoda presented guest artist recitals and master classes throughout the U.S. and adjudicated various piano competitions and study programs including Arizona State Honors Recital, North State Symphony Young Artists’ Auditions, East Valley Music Teachers’ Association Piano Competition, Arizona Study Program, Celebration of Music Recital, Prize Performer, Irma Kluck Baroque Competition, Valencia Young Pianists’ Competition, William Corbett-Jones Piano Competition, “Go For the Gold!” CAPMT Music Competition and New American Music Festival Young Artists’ Piano Competition. Natalya Shkoda was invited to participate in the International Symposium “Arnold Schoenberg Reconsidered,” International Conference “Schumann’s Perspectives: A View across the Disciplines,” and Loeffler New Music Symposium “Music and the Cutting Edge,” in addition to her participation in the MTNA, MTAC and CMS conferences. In 2009, Natalya Shkoda was the invited Concert Artist and Clinician at the Arizona State Music Teachers’ Association Conference in Phoenix.
As a researcher and recording artist, Dr. Natalya Shkoda rediscovered and brought to the audiences worldwide the piano music of Ukrainian composer, pianist and pedagogue Viktor Stepanovych Kosenko (1896-1938). Her debut commercial CD featuring the First Western Recording of Kosenko “Eleven Etudes in the Form of Old Dances,” Opus 19, was released on the “Toccata Classics” label in London, U.K., in 2006 (http://www.toccatapress.com).
Since 2010, Natalya Shkoda records exclusively for “Centaur Records.” Her second Kosenko CD featuring the Premiere Recordings of “The Complete Piano Sonatas” was released by “Centaur” in 2011 (http://www.centaurrecords.com). Natalya Shkoda’s final Kosenko CD in her three-volume “Kosenko Recording Project” features his “Eleven Etudes,” Opus 8, and “Twenty-Four Children’s Pieces,” Opus 25 (Premiere Complete Recordings). The CD was released by “Centaur” in 2015. All three Kosenko CDs were released to international critical acclaim including numerous national and international radio broadcasts and rave reviews in All-Music Guide, Amazon, America, American Record Guide, Audiophile Audition, Classical Music Guide, Classical Source, Fanfare, Gramophone, International Piano, Svoboda, Ukrainian Weekly and Music Web International. Natalya Shkoda’s fourth solo CD was released by “Centaur” in 2018, and it features “The Seasons,” Opus 37 bis, and “The Album for the Young,” Opus 39, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).
Being selected among 110 candidates for the position in a nationwide search, Dr. Natalya Shkoda joined the Music Department at Chico State University as Assistant Professor of Piano in 2008. In 2014, Dr. Shkoda was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor at CSU, Chico, and awarded a sabbatical leave to produce the final Kosenko CD in her three-volume “Kosenko Recording Project.” The following year, Dr. Shkoda was interviewed for the University’s “Chico Statements” magazine (Faculty in Focus). In 2019, Dr. Natalya Shkoda was granted promotion to Full Professor at CSU, Chico joining the elite group of female full professors and mothers in academia (according to the AAUP, this group is comprised of only 0.75% of all college professors in the U.S.), who achieved this highest in the college professorship rank while “having it all”: flourishing career and loving and supporting family.
As Full Professor and Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at Chico State University, Dr. Natalya Shkoda teaches private and group piano, studio class, junior and senior recitals, special problems, repertoire, and various courses in accompanying and pedagogy while overseeing the Keyboard Performance and Pedagogy Pathway and the Certificate in Keyboard Pedagogy. Additionally, Dr. Shkoda regularly organizes and directs the “88 Keys at Chico State” fundraising recitals that she established at CSU, Chico in 2009. Between 2008 and 2018, Dr. Shkoda had also served as Artistic Director of the annual Earl R. and Marilyn Ann Kruschke Prize in Piano Performance at Chico State, a state-wide piano competition for high-school and college students. Prior to her appointment at Chico State University, Natalya Shkoda taught at Kharkiv State National Kotlyarevsky University of the Arts in Ukraine, Arizona State University and Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona. Under Dr. Natalya Shkoda’s guidance, thirty (30) aspiring young pianists ages 6 through 27 became the prize winners of local, regional and state piano competitions.
Natalya Shkoda resides in Chico, California, together with her husband and best friend Sergey Smirnov, beautiful daughter April Grace Smirnoff (YouTube Channel) and very smart orange tabby cat Shine.
“It has been a long time since I’ve heard a pianist from Russia/Ukraine that displayed such command of the piano. Natalya Shkoda is polished and involved emotionally in every respect and possesses a full command of her keyboard… Don’t be afraid at all to go after this recorded-in-America performance by the Ukrainian pianist, with music composed by the Ukrainian composer on a disc with outstanding documentation manufactured in England! Five stars and totally recommended.”
Lance G. Hill, Editor-in-Chief, Classical Music Guide
“Kosenko is well served by pianist Shkoda. She has a very large technique- and needs it to get through the million notes Kosenko throws at her. Beyond that, however, Shkoda has a clear understanding of Kosenko aesthetics, shaping and shading the music beautifully and naturally as to phrasing, use of the pedals, application of rubato and dynamic contrast; in short, she speaks his language. So thumbs up for the first-rate pianist on display.”
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition
“She’s fantastic and the Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto is just a spectacular piece. It’s like when you watch the Olympics and see some snowboarder do something and you say, ‘That’s not humanly possible.’ Watching her play you say, ‘That’s not humanly possible to do that.’ She’s got the whole package. She’s an exciting and passionate player.”
Jim Dyar, News Cafe, Northern California’s Premier Online News Magazine
“Ms. Shkoda exhibited brilliant piano technique and great depth of artistic interpretation.”
Thaya Salamacha, Ukrainian Weekly, New York
“Bravo to Natalya Shkoda for putting her accomplished playing and for supplying an informative and unapologetic essay to accompany it. Recording quality and presentation leave nothing to be desired.”
David Fanning, Gramophone
“I find these sonatas attractive. They are romantic works, and they are excellent platform for showing off a beautiful piano sound. Natalya Shkoda has a very bold and rich sound.”
Byelick, American Record Guide
“This is immensely attractive music that has been rescued from obscurity by Natalya Shkoda. Eleven Etudes in the Form of Old Dances is a real discovery, and is played with the utmost sympathy and technical elan by Natalya Shkoda. These works are technically challenging – although Natalya Shkoda makes light work of such challenges… Kosenko is a composer well overdue international consideration.”
Colin Anderson, Classical Source
“Passacaglia… gives Shkoda a chance to demonstrate a true measure of her impressive pianistic range. Her tone is bright, and she navigates the many exposed runs with clarity and precision.”
Maggie Williams, International Piano
“It is so great to hear Natalya’s wonderful playing of the Viktor Kosenko Etudes.”
George Winston, pianist
“Natalya Shkoda’s CD of Kosenko is an attractive testament to her level of skill. She displays a solid technique and a convincing ability to modulate between the intimacy of such works as the Gavotte in B Minor (a lovely little thing, Brahms in an autumnal mood) and the ambitious, flashy Passacaglia. Her rhythmic sense is elastic, and her affection and knowledge of this music is obvious at every turn.”
Barry Brenesal, Fanfare
“Occasionally one hears unfamiliar music and immediately falls in love with it. That has been my experience with these eleven piano pieces by a Ukrainian composer I’d never even heard of before, Viktor Stepanovych Kosenko. Natalya Shkoda, the marvelous pianist on this disc, is herself a Ukrainian. She makes a convincing advocate for this wonderful music.”
Scott Morrison, Amazon
“These pieces don’t really resemble any other music of the 1920s, and their rediscovery… by Ukrainian-American pianist Natalya Shkoda is most welcome. This unique music raises interest in future releases in a Kosenko series planned by Shkoda, and it provides fresh illustration of how many gems were left in the ground, especially in Eastern Europe, as modernism took hold in the West.”
James Manheim, All-Music Guide
“The virtuosic Shkoda is well attuned to the superheated fumes and stormily shuddering idiom. I hope we will hear more from Shkoda who also provides the very informative liner-notes for this disk.”
Rob Barnett, Music Web International
“A phenomenal performance of the Kosenko… places Natalya Shkoda among the top Ukrainian virtuoso pianists of today.”
Bohdan Markiw, Svoboda (Freedom), Chicago