Thursday, May 10, 2012

Toronto, Canada, May 2012

My very first Piano Festival was in Canada, in Fort McMurray, but Toronto has become an annual fixture on my calendar and this was the 5th Christopher Norton Toronto Piano Festival, organised by the indefatigable Liselotte Jongedijk.
Day One was in Richmond Hill and was hosted by Miss Linda’s Music Studio and sponsored by Cosmo Music, a large music dealer with amazing facilities, including a first-rate concert hall.

I began with an improv group, using one of the rooms at Cosmo Music that accommodate lots of keyboards. The children enjoyed playing together and also seemed to enjoy the chance to come up with their own ideas (as long as they could repeat them!) Here are some of the students hard at work:

The day involved masterclasses as well as improv groups and both teachers and parents sat in on the sessions. The performers were well prepared and were also open to suggestions from me, especially if it made the piece easier to play! Here’s a master class student trying to concentrate while I demonstrate a point:

We moved to the concert hall later in the day and proceedings were rounded off by a Gala Concert, where students played for a very appreciative audience, with me busking along as required.

On Day 2 I went to The Toronto Montessori School, where a group of very well-prepared students took part in an afternoon masterclass. A number of the students also attended the main Piano Festival later the same day and were able to take part in another masterclass as well as an improv group. The piano teacher at the school, Lori Cotton, has used my material for many years and the performers were among the best I’ve heard in Canada. I hope to see them and their teacher again in 2013.
And so to the main event, the Toronto Piano Festival organized by Liselotte. Spread across 2 days and featuring over 50 students, this was a chance to work in some detail on improv with children as young as 7 and as old as 15. It was also a chance to make helpful adjustments to solo performances. We achieved some spectacular results and also had a lot of fun. Here are some pictures of students at work:

The Gala Concert was a wonderful end to the Festival – a large and very appreciative audience were treated to some breathtaking performances by solo performers as well as tight playing from the improv groups and some amazing improvisation from the older students. It really was a special occasion for everyone concerned. Roll on the next 5 years!

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