Browsing: Piano

Toronto, February 16, 2020—The Toronto Symphony performed its Valentine’s program to a full house last night featuring some of the most romantic classical music ever written. What you missed? The concert opened with the Canadian premiere of American composer Elizabeth Ogonek’s “As though birds.” The work was inspired by a three-line stanza from a poem by Jonathan Dubow. Though only three-and-a-half minutes long, it is densely packed with an immense range of orchestral timbres, with moods alternating between melancholy and euphoria. Elim Chan, Stephen Hough, Photo: Jag Gundu Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, a work that epitomizes…

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Calgary, AB, February 3, 2020—The triennial Honens International Piano Competition—distinguished for its philosophy of the Complete Artist—opens applications and announces the details of its 2021 edition. Honens awards its Prize Laureate $100,000 (CAD) and a comprehensive artistic and career development program which includes worldwide representation; debut recitals in career-building markets such as Berlin, London, New York, and Toronto; residencies and special projects; coaching and mentorship opportunities; and the production, release, and distribution of professional recordings. The prize is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Competition juries include pianists and other individuals including artist managers, collaborative musicians,…

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It was one of a few surprising comments. Lucas Debargue, speaking from his home in Paris, said he was not particularly disappointed by his failure to win the International Tchaikovsky Competition of 2015. He was, indeed, rather happy with his fourth-place finish – behind five other contestants, keeping in mind the ex-aequo results – regardless of the scandal it caused in Moscow. “My fourth place did not prevent me from getting a lot of concert opportunities,” Debargue pointed out. “If I had been first, I would have had a huge pressure on my back. “And there are concert organizers who…

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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…

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After Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and Washington, Lang Lang will play at the Maison symphonique for the Montréal Bach Festival, performing Bach’s iconic Goldberg Variations. Lang Lang is a leading figure in classical music today – as a pianist, educator and philanthropist he has become one of the world’s most influential and committed ambassadors for the arts in the 21st century. Equally happy playing for billions of people at the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing or just for a few hundred children in public schools, he is a master of communicating through music. Returning after a career-threatening injury,which kept him…

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“He started at a very early age.” So it is written of many competition laureates. Bryn Blackwood, 28, the winner last April of the 42nd Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition in Brandon, Manitoba, took up the piano just before he turned 16. “Mine was a bit of a strange case,” he commented from his hometown of Simcoe, Ontario. Tiring of the trombone he was playing at school, Blackwood came across a performance of Liszt’s Liebestraum No. 3 on the then-fledgling platform of YouTube. “I decided that I wanted to play it,” he recalls, “even though it was drastically too hard for…

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Samuel Blanchette-Gagnon’s career is taking shape – in fact, it’s taking off. In May the young pianist won the prestigious 2019 Prix d’Europe, the Claire-Charbonneau-Clerk Award and the Canadian Music Centre Award for Quebec. He has performed Book 2 of Debussy’s Images and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2. This isn’t the first time Blanchette-Gagnon has won awards. A former student of Gérald Lévesque, he has been enrolled in a master’s program at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec since 2018. In 2014, Blanchette-Gagnon won the Canadian Music Competition grand prize, playing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. This competition gave him…

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Founded in 1996, the Piano Esmonde White company, named after its founder Oliver Esmonde-White, has established itself as a Quebec leader in the areas of piano rental, transportation, tuning and manufacturing. Bolstered by the expertise of its technicians, this company located in Montreal’s Mile-End district has just launched a brand-new model of high-end uprights: Magic pianos. In the 1980s, in the United States, Darrell Fandrich of Fandrich & Sons had already developed a very high-quality mechanism for the upright piano – achieving sound qualities similar to those of a grand piano. The technicians at Piano Esmonde White drew inspiration from…

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Carter Johnson, technically a resident of Vancouver, was in Montana, on his way to New York. The cellphone connection was spotty.“It’s a lot cheaper to drive,” the 22-year-old said, with his wife Hannah at the wheel. “If we were to ship this stuff, it would be way too expensive.”Their two-year-old son Preston would be flying in with his grandmother. “Too much driving for him,” Johnson explains.The road trip marked a new chapter in the career of this pianist, who last year won both the grand prize in the OSM Manulife Competition and first prize in the Stepping Stone division of…

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Tony Siqi Yun is listed second-to-last, alphabetically, on the roster of pianists represented by the New York-based Opus 3 talent agency. Following him: Krystian Zimerman. Where the Toronto native made it to the top of the list was in last May’s inaugural China International Music Competition in Beijing. A management deal with Opus 3 (the descendant of the Sol Hurok organization) and Armstrong Music and Arts was part of his gold-medal prize package, which includes three years of coordinated concertizing in North America, Europe and China. And, oh yes, a cash prize of US$150,000. “Tony exhibited professionalism, musicianship, poise and…

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