Browsing: Piano

It was the day the music stopped – in future tense. On April 7 the City of Montreal decreed that no festivals, sporting events or public gatherings would be allowed on its “territory” through July 2 owing to the COVID-19 crisis. While it was not clear whether this announcement had any direct bearing on indoor performances, and Mayor Plante was heard telling CJAD that its decision was only for outdoor events which required a city permit, music presenters including the MSO promptly scrapped the balance of the 2019-20 season. The Orchestre Métropolitain, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival and Les Violons…

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In a dark moment of isolation, I found myself thinking of Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) a student of the atonalist Schoenberg and the microtonalist Haba who never really found his voice until darkness descended and he faced segregation and extinction. Before 1939 he’d enjoyed fragments of international attention, with a piano sonata premiered in London at the Wigmore Hall and a few more glimmers of invitation. In 1939, after the Germans occupied Prague, he set about writing a piano concerto for Juliette Aranyi, a fellow-Haba student, knowing it might never get performed. Both composer and soloist were deported in 1942 to…

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Montreal, March 17, 2020 – Following the Quebec Premier’s official announcement banning public gatherings of more than 250 people and, more recently, the announcement of the closing of Canadian borders in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Concours musical international de Montréal (CMIM) is obliged to postpone its 19th edition, scheduled for May 4 to 13, 2020. “This was an exceptionally difficult decision that was not made lightly. The current situation is evolving rapidly and we believe there will be significant impacts on logistics and international travel. Our jury members and competitors would have been travelling from close…

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“Only good news from the Ladies’ Morning Musical Club,” Constance Pathy, president of the venerable organization, said at the formal launch of the 2020-21 season. The announcement came a day before some not-so-good news, as the LMMC was forced to cancel the March 15 appearance of the Pavel Haas Quartet with pianist Boris Giltburg, thus joining several Quebec organizations (and countless worldwide) affected by the coronavirus outbreak. A recital on April 5 by the Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov is also cancelled. Premier François Legault’s ban on gatherings numbering more than 250, announced on March 12, was intended to remain in…

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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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