Nicole Linaksita: Winner of the Stepping Stone

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Like many young seekers of competition glory, Nicole Linaksita is fond of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The Vancouverite won the $10,000 first prize in the Stepping Stone division of the Canimex Canadian Music Competition last June in Calgary with a less famous score: Moritz Moszkowski’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in E Major Op. 59. The gala performance was with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra under its resident conductor, Karl Hirzer.

“I wanted to enjoy the experience and to show people why I love the piece so much,” she says. “Being more relaxed helped things naturally happen rather than having every single detail preplanned. It gave the feeling of not knowing what to expect, which is the beauty of live performance.”

Linaksita studied both music and computer science at the University of British Columbia, graduating in 2016. Her piano professors were Corey Hamm and Ryo Yanagitani. The double major kept her busy but still left time for summer work at the Orford Music Academy with André Laplante and Chetham’s International Piano Summer School in Manchester, England, with Catherine Vickers, Eugen Indjic, Douglas Finch and Leslie Howard.

She also found time to participate in the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition, the OSM Manulife Competition, the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals National Competition and the Shean Competition. “Patience, self-motivation, diligence and passion” are the qualities she regards as essential to success.

Linaksita will try to apply all of the above as she pursues a Master of Music degree in piano performance at the University of Texas at Austin, where her professor will Anton Nel. “I aim to hone my technical skills and my ability to produce colorful sounds,” she says.

Happily, Nel is known for his Beethoven, the composer with whom Linaksita identifies most strongly. She is not allergic to contemporary music, having played in concerts with the Post-Modern Camerata and performed in the Vancouver premiere of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians with Music on Main.

Linaksita hopes to expand her repertoire and participate in international competitions. Who knows? Maybe she will have a crack at the Rachmaninoff. “The orchestra is so rich in sound and colour and it is, overall, such a glorious and exciting piece.”

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