Reed Tetzloff was 4-years-old when he discovered the piano.

"We had a small piano in the house which was inherited from my mom's family," he says. "When I was little, we'd watch Disney movies and I'd go to the piano and play the music by ear.

"It would sound something like the soundtrack. My parents signed me up for lessons.

"I really loved it right away," Tetzloff says. "I would sit down at the piano and play for hours."

Today, Tetzloff has appeared as a recitalist and concerto soloist on three continents. He has released a debut CD, and won several prizes at international piano competitions, and made his Lincoln Center debut with the Mannes Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall and his New York solo recital debut at Merkin Hall.

On Aug. 11, Tetzloff will play the 2017 Joseph Pramberger Memorial Concert at Messiah Lutheran Church on Skidaway Island. While he's dedicated to music these days, he almost gave it up at one point.

"In middle school, it was really uncool to be a pianist," Tetzloff says. "I went to a new school in seventh grade and made it a whole year without anyone knowing I played piano.

"I kind of tried to hide it. I played sports a lot, but I had some injuries. I broke a finger playing basketball.

"I had to choose what I wanted to do," he says. "Either give up piano or take it more seriously."

As music was always his biggest love, Tetzloff chose the piano.

"I decided at 13 or 14 to really own it and go for it," he says. "I would say also at that time I was struggling with not having any peers related to it.

"I started going to music festivals in the summer that were run by my teacher. I met a lot of really good friends through our shared interest.

"It was around that time that I decided to pursue it as a career," Tetzloff says. "That was it."

Being a concert pianist has its perks.

"I've been able to travel a lot, which is great," Tetzloff says. "I've been to a lot of wonderful places, whether for competitions or performances.

"Last year, I did a concert tour in Belgium. I had six concerts over the span of five days.

"That was a great experience," he says. "I'm going back this November to do 10 concerts."

At the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, one of the biggest piano competitions in the world, Tetzloff reached the Top 12.

"Just the experience of being in Moscow and at the Moscow Conservatory with thousands of people in the audience was amazing," he says. "There was this crazy media presence and cameras following me everywhere. It was unforgettable."

Although he also teaches, that's not his main focus right now.

"I'm focusing on my performing career right now," Tetzloff says. "I'm 25 and have graduated with a bachelor's and master's.

"I may go back for a doctorate, but I want to focus on performance, just going to different places and different opportunities and having one lead to another and building that way.

"I've been doing a bit of teaching on the side since that's more reliable," he says. "I enjoy teaching more advanced students. I taught at a music festival in Minnesota and that was a lot of fun."

Tetzloff promises an interesting program at Messiah Lutheran.

"I'm starting with two Scarlatti Sonatas, which are pieces that I love to play at the beginning of a concert," he says. "They really open up the piano and the world of expression and character. There are tons of possibilities in these pieces.

"Then I'll play the First Sonata by Robert Schumann, a piece that is not played as much as many of his other piano works.

"It's a passionate piece, almost like a great tragic novel, a 'Sorrows of Young Werther.'" Tetzloff says. "In the second half, I'm starting with six Preludes by Debussy, which are the most pictorial, imaginative, colorful pieces you can find."

The program will close with an unusual piece by  Frederic Rzewski.

"He was born in Massachusetts, but now lives in Europe," Tetzloff says. "The piece is called 'Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues.'  It's sort of a social, political, historical document written in protest of the poor working conditions on cotton gins in the South.

"It begins by imitating the sound of a cotton gin.  Eventually there's a lunch bell and the workers go off and have a lunch break," he says. "Near the end, Rzewski quotes a well-known folk tune - a song which shares the same title as the piece.  Finally, the cotton gin comes back and basically blows up the piano. It's not only a fun piece to play, it has a very powerful message."


What: Annual Joseph Pramberger Memorial Concert featuring pianist Reed Tetzloff

When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11

Where: Messiah Lutheran Church, 1 W. Ridge Road

Cost: Free, free-will offering will be collected

Info: 912-598-1188,