A native of Gaylord, Michigan, Herzer began playing the piano only in his late teens, when, almost by accident, he discovered his gift for keyboard performance. Self-taught at first, he found a teacher who could steer him in the right direction and he set about to catch up, engrossing himself in the study of Chopin and other composers of the standard classical repertoire.

Lately, he has focused his attention on the study of some of the lesser-known composers of the 20th century. The concert will include a sonata by Romanian composer George Enescu and a collection of Skazki (“Fairy Tales”) by Russian composer Nikolai Medtner.

“Derek got to where he’s at in a very untraditional way,” said Wayne Wyrembelski, a Michigan organist and one of Herzer’s early fans. “Most start when they’re little, but Derek sort of discovered it on his own. It’s very unusual to do that.”

Herzer later entered Western Michigan University and received his undergraduate degree in piano performance in 2010. A move to Maine followed, when he enrolled in the master’s degree program at the University of Southern Maine, where, as a student of faculty artist Laura Kargul, he continued to amaze audiences with his artistry.

While at USM, he began his current assignment as accompanist for the Oratorio Chorale and played with the Southern Maine Symphony.

Since graduation from USM late last year, he continues his work with the Oratorio Chorale and teaches piano at the Bay Chamber Music School in Rockport. He resides in Portland with his wife, Rachel, an artist and pianist.

Now in its eighth season, the Franco Center’s Piano Series is unique in New England, presenting six programs during each season, offering recitals by world-class artists as well as rising stars, in a venue where the natural acoustics are on par with the world’s best for classical piano performances.

Tickets are $16 adults; $14 seniors; students admitted free; and can be purchased at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/475691, by calling 207-689-2000 or visiting the box office. The Franco Center is at 46 Cedar St.


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