Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Christopher Norton North American Grand Tour June 21st - July 5th 2013

Christopher Norton Grand Tour June 21st – July 5th 2013

This tour came about because I had a request to attend the CFMTA (Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations - www.cfmta.org) in Halifax, Nova Scotia in late June/early July 2013. I suggested to the President of the Association, Lorna Wanzel, that I could attend if a Christopher Norton Piano Festival in Halifax preceded the conference. And she agreed! Working backwards from the convention, my energetic US agents, Olive and Anthony Yau (www.oliveland.comset about arranging a number of pre-conference events in Kirkland, WA and in Victoria, Vancouver and Richmond, BC.

Kirkland (www.kirklandwa.gov) is a lovely lakeside suburb of Seattle on the shores of Lake Washington. Olive Yau has a thriving piano teaching studio there, which also doubles as an examination centre for the ABRSM. Olive is originally from Hong Kong, where the ABRSM is "the" music examination system and she first became acquainted with my work because of pieces listed on the ABRSM piano syllabus.

As readers of my occasional reports may know, I have been to Kirkland twice before, once to introduce myself to teachers in the Seattle area and a second time to put on a Christopher Norton Piano Festival. This time Olive and Anthony, her businessman husband, decided to bill the event more like a Summer Camp, with an exciting array of activities available for selection in addition to a basic package of improvisation group, master class and Gala Concert. Here is the list of activities that were on offer:

A total of 138 Camp “slots” were booked and a terrific time was had by all. I had great support from various teachers/helpers and the participants enjoyed both improvising and performing. Here are some photographs of the event, including a picture from above, a group photo and a close-up of 2 young participants:

The event culminated in a lovely Gala Concert, which co-incided with my 60th birthday! The entire audience sung Happy Birthday and a cake was produced and cut:

I then travelled to Victoria in British Columbia and did a mini-Festival at Tom Lee Music, with improvisation and master classes. Then 2 much larger events, one in Vancouver, the other in Richmond. In Vancouver I had 19 students at once, all with full-sized keyboards!

And here is a lovely shot with students during one of the workshops:

Here is one of the master classes in Richmond:

Tom Lee Music were very pleased with all three events and would like me to come back and do bigger events in 2014.

And so to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I did a more standard Christopher Norton Festival, organized superbly by Shahien Hamza and Lexie Blackler:

Shahien and Lexie are keen to do a larger event next year as well! And so to the original reason for going to North America – the Conference in Halifax. Apart from 2 presentations, I spent quite a bit of time on the stand of the local music dealer, playing and chatting to teachers. The final dinner was a lovely chance to see my many Canadian friends, including the redoubtable Gunars Balodis, the co-founder of Music for Young Children:

This was a most enjoyable Grand Tour and I hope to do it all again on an even grander scale in 2014!

Christopher Norton
London 3rd September 2013