New Biography / E-Gré Tour 2015

I’ve updated my biography to reflect my current artistic practices. The English version is up for your reading pleasure – the German version is still under construction!

Violinist Joshua Peters and pianist Katherine Dowling begin the 2015 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition Winner’s Tour on Saturday, October 31 with multiple concerts and master classes across Canada. I’ll look forward to supporting them soon and I hope you’ll keep an eye out for this outstanding combination of musicians. Complete event listings can be found on the E-Gré Website. An ALL EARS interview with Joshua Peters, recorded in person this past summer in Casalmaggiore, will be posted on November 1.

August Performances

My first month back in Canada was marked by two performances: a joint recital with NYOC tubist Justin Hickmott in Brandon, and a solo recital in Lethbridge.

tubist Justin Hickmott, composer Michelle Pegus, Everett Hopfner
tubist Justin Hickmott, composer Michelle Pegus, Everett Hopfner

Brandon University’s Augustfest celebrates the accomplishments of BU School of Music alumni. I was delighted by the invitation to perform a mixed program: for the first half, I collaborated with Brandon native Justin Hickmott for a set of tuba/piano duos. In the second half of the program, I performed solo piano pieces by BU alumni composers: Nicole Lizée‘s “Vertigo Beach”, Jocelyn Morlock‘s recent “Corybantic”, and a premiere of “The Outskirts of Fantasy” by emerging Manitoba composer Michelle Pegus.

This year’s Augustfest was particularly special as it celebrated the remarkable career of BU Professor Emeritus Dr. Lawrence Jones. Dr. Jones has been a longtime inspiration to me and I was grateful to attend a luncheon and concert in his honour.

Jesse Plessis and Everett Hopfner at CASA
Jesse Plessis and Everett Hopfner at CASA

On August 28, I made my first trip to Lethbridge, Alberta for a solo recital at CASA, a unique and modern interdisciplinary arts centre. I was happy to reunite with my dear friend (and past ALL EARS interviewee) Jesse Plessis, who was very generous and helpful in organizing the performance. The program featured two works by Frederic Rzewski, “Study II” and “De Profundis”, and repeat performances of “Vertigo Beach” and “The Outskirts of Fantasy”.

Another highlight of my August was a meeting with Manitoba composer Rémi Bouchard. I will perform some of his pieces in a concert in Neepawa on September 26. For further information about all my upcoming performances, check out the Calendar page.

Enjoy these fleeting last days of summer, and thanks for reading!

Casalmaggiore International Music Festival 2015

Greetings from the homeland! I’ve made a safe and happy return to Canada and am looking forward to some fun projects in the coming months. In the meantime, I’d like to share a little update about my time in Casalmaggiore, Italy this summer.

Casalmaggiore International Music Festival (CIF) is always a bustling hive of activity, and this year was no exception. It was wonderful to be reunited with many dear friends and colleagues, and of course, to meet many new ones. There were at least two concerts every day, held in Casalmaggiore and the surrounding communities.

performing Frederic Rzewski's "Study II (Dreams)"
performing Frederic Rzewski’s “Study II (Dreams)” in the Museo Diotti courtyard. Another performer has left signs on the stage and disappeared, for Ben Vautier’s “I Will Be Back in Ten Minutes”

CIF has taken on more and more contemporary music projects in recent years. Inspired by previous “Contemporary International Musical Exchange: CIME” concerts we have performed, Casalmaggiore’s wonderful Museo Diotti planned an exhibition of Italian Fluxus artist Giuseppe Chiari to coincide with this year’s edition. Called “Giuseppe Chiari: Quit Classic Music”, the exhibit was curated by Anna Vergine and Gabriele Fallini in collaboration with Casalmaggiore-based musicologist Vittorio Rizzi. I worked carefully with CIME director Megumi Masaki and Vittorio to develop a program of Fluxus pieces and “events” to coincide with the closing of the exhibition. After many hours of rehearsals, our concert took place on July 24, outside in the museum courtyard.

conducting an international language choir in Alison Knowles's "Newspaper Event"
conducting an international language choir in Alison Knowles’s “Newspaper Event”

Curators Vergine and Fallini were special guests at our concert. Mario Chiari, son of the late Giuseppe Chiari travelled from Florence to attend. It was a beautiful and emotional evening, a true celebration of Chiari’s work. The audience in attendance was also surprised by many of the events – for example, the concert programs were distributed by being thrown as paper airplanes and crumpled paper balls in Mieko Shiomi’s “Fluxversion 1”. In my seven years of attendance at CIF, this may well be the concert I am proudest of! I thank festival director Anne Shih for giving CIME such a great platform this year, and Megumi, Vittorio, and the many contributing musicians for all of their hard work.

Vittorio Rizzi, Everett Hopfner, Mario Chiari, Megumi Masaki
Giuseppe Chiari: QUIT CLASSIC MUSIC. After the concert, with Vittorio Rizzi, Mario Chiari, and Megumi Masaki

The complete concert, including numerous audience interventions and three pieces by Giuseppe Chiari, was recorded by the festival. I will post links to the videos once they are processed and uploaded to the festival’s YouTube channel.

Casalmaggiore International Music Festival has become a very special place for me, in fact I’ve come to refer to it affectionately as my “summer home.” Thank you to the terrific administrative team and to the wonderful people of Casalmaggiore for welcoming us into their beautiful community and sharing in so many special memories for yet another year. Thanks also to the Manitoba Arts Council for its support of my attendance this year.

Up next: concerts in Brandon, Lethbridge and Neepawa. Stay tuned!

earworms: Timm Roller’s Abschlusskonzert

this is the first instalment of earworms, a new blog on
from time to time, i’ll post my thoughts and reflections
on outstanding performances i’ve witnessed

THE EVENT: Timm Roller, guitar and electronics. Abschlusskonzert. with AAA—AAA (Thilo Ruck, guitar) and Hanna Madeleine Kölbel, cello. July 10, 2015.

I feel strongly compelled to write. Right now, in this very moment, immediately.

Mere hours ago I was sitting in the Orchesterprobenraum of the Stuttgart Musikhochschule to attend the graduation recital of guitarist Timm Roller. Timm is an endlessly capable instrumentalist, a bold experimenter, and a technological wizard. A vast array of cables, computers and various electronic gear had been carefully assembled at the front of the room, ready to be deployed in the service of art.

And what art.

I’ve seen Timm work in many contexts – most commonly behind a mixing board, or calmly strolling through the school pushing a giant cart full of technological gear. He is endlessly patient, assisting everyone – and I mean everyone – with their own technological projects. Recording and editing performances, programming patches, setting up speakers, testing audio balance — he does it all, and for everyone, and totally competently, with impeccable professionalism, and gladly. I’ve also seen him perform with his duo partner Thilo Ruck in AAA—-AAA, exploring the boundary between music and noise, and bravely seeking and discovering new sounds from his instrument.

But this night – this concert – was something really special. This was Timm unfiltered, unaffected by externalities, able to stand in a spotlight of his own rather than competently helping others to shine their brightest. This was a thrilling, bold artistic statement: carefully chosen pieces performed with complete commitment, featuring incredibly tight collaborative partnerships with guitarist Thilo and cellist Hanna Madeleine Kölbel, all woven together in an all-encompassing collage of light, video art and noise. The works (by Michael Maierhof,  Martin Schüttler, Brigitta Muntendeorf, and Malte Giesen) flowed dynamically from one to the next, bound together with Timm’s own variations on Peter Ablinger’s work “WEISS/WEISSLICH 17g”. The whole event was absolutely unapologetic: a full-on blast of Timm’s inspirations, his experienced understanding of his instrument and his chosen repertoire, and his passion and love for his vocation.

The German word “Abschlusskonzert” has such a heavy air of formality and finality above it, implying that the performance will close a certain chapter of one’s artistic progress. This concert was no such thing, it couldn’t possibly have ‘closed’ anything. Rather, it opened – it opened minds, it opened ears, it opened the door to reveal the exciting path that Timm is boldly travelling. It showed us what is still possible in the newest of new musics, and even more impressively, just why it is essential that performers and composers continue to mine for sounds real and not yet realized.

I applaud Timm and his brilliant collaborators, I thank him for the evening of total inspiration and I implore you, dear reader, to keep this name in your consciousness and watch out for what will surely be more exceptional work to come.

timm roller recently appeared on ALL EARS.
catch his podcast interview and read more about him here.

Summer Update and the Next Step

Summer has arrived, and with it much great news to share and celebrate.

First, a quick recap of the last few weeks:

June 19-20 was the biannual werk_statt_festival at Musikhochschule Stuttgart. I had the great pleasure to perform Rolf Riehm’s “Hawking” for piano, bass drum and ensemble. Herr Riehm was generous enough to attend an early rehearsal and share his insight and inspiration with us. He also came to our performance on Saturday night.

Stealth photographer Timm Roller captured me warming up before my graduation recital.
Stealth photographer Timm Roller captured me warming up before my graduation recital.

Three days later, I performed my Abschlusskonzert/Graduation Recital for the Master Neue Musik program. The program featured Michel van der Aa’s “Transit” for piano and video, Frederic Rzewski’s “De Profundis” for speaking pianist, and Helmut Lachenmann’s “Allegro sostenuto” for clarinet, cello and piano. I will post recordings to the site’s Media page as they are optimized and uploaded.

The Lachenmann in particular has been a very special project: for the past year I have been collaborating with brilliant colleagues Felix Behringer and Hanna Kölbel on this masterpiece. We’ll have another performance this summer, and we’ll reunite the trio this winter for the esteemed composer’s 80th birthday celebration. I’m very grateful to many friends and colleagues for coming to support me at my graduation concert, and to the jury for their work and for their comments following the performance. Thanks especially to my teacher, Prof. Nicolas Hodges, for his support and inspiration throughout the course of my degree here.

So, what’s next?

July 16-26 I will make a SEVENTH trip to what I affectionately call my summer home – Casalmaggiore International Festival in Italy. I’m having a lot of fun curating a concert of Fluxus performances to take place on July 24. The festival will be a great opportunity to reconnect with a wonderful network of friends, colleagues and mentors established over several years of collaboration. I’ll be working closely with Prof. Megumi Masaki to prepare a new solo program for upcoming concerts in Canada in August and September.

After that, I have arranged one of the most simultaneously frightening and thrilling things I know of: a one-way flight. The last time I got on a one-way flight was August 2010, when I was about to start a new chapter in my life in a new country, with very little idea of what was to come next. I am so grateful for the incredible time I have had over the last five years in Stuttgart and Frankfurt, for the teachers that have shared their experience and dedication with me, and for the friends I will carry forward for a lifetime. But it is time for a change of scene, and a little break from academia.

A performance of Lachenmann's "Allegro sostenuto" with Hanna Kölbel and Felix Behringer
A performance of Lachenmann’s “Allegro sostenuto” with Hanna Kölbel and Felix Behringer

The decision to return to Canada was not easy, but I am so excited for the possibilities ahead. I am going to base myself in Manitoba, and endeavour to build my network to the other major musical centres in my home country. I look forward to sharing my experiences here in Germany with the communities that have supported me for so many years. I’ll also be able to reconnect with dear friends and exciting collaborative partners. There are many changes ahead, too many to list here – but I am heading towards Manitoba with a great sense of pride and dedication. It’s time to get to work!

Thanks for taking the time to read this update. To check in with me a little more regularly, you can subscribe to my podcast, ALL EARS, in which I interview friends, colleagues and the people who inspire me. You can also connect any time on facebook and twitter.

Interview on Canadian music and international communication

I was very honoured to be interviewed by my friend and colleague Jade Conlee as a component of her research. Jade is currently attending Musikhochschule Stuttgart on a Fulbright Grant, studying contemporary music and writing about political and intercultural influences on contemporary music performance. In this interview, I discuss Canadian music and my experience performing it in other countries. You can read the piece on Jade’s Fulbright Blog.

I also interviewed Jade for ALL EARS’s eighth episode! That conversation can be found here.

New Videos

Hi folks, just a quick update today! I’ve launched an official Youtube channel and have some more video content to share with you. Click “Youtube” in the sidebar to check out my new content, or look at the updated playlist on my “Media” page.

Episode 2 of ALL EARS will launch on January 19. If you like the show, please tell a friend and consider leaving a rating or review on iTunes.

New Year, New Podcast. Welcome to ALL EARS.

Happy New Year, and welcome back to After undergoing some maintenance, I’m delighted to bring my website back to life with a significant addition: a brand new podcast.

I’ve been a huge fan of podcasts for many years, and I thought for a long time that it would be a neat thing to try for myself. After much reflection, I realized that the subject material was actually pretty obvious.

I’ve been so fortunate to develop a fascinating network of friends, colleagues, and mentors in the world of music. My podcast, ALL EARS, is my way of checking in with these people, discussing our projects and passions, and giving different perspectives on our musical interests.

Musicians don’t get very far in their careers without a lot of support from people who care about them. On ALL EARS, we’ll acknowledge the people who’ve made a real difference in our lives through the increasingly-flexibly named “Mr. Rogers Memorial People are Wonderful Segment.”

New episodes of ALL EARS will be released twice a month: right here on, and on iTunes. You can subscribe to the podcast by following the “ALL EARS” Podcast links in the menu.

Thanks for your continued support and I look forward to the exciting months of performing (and now podcasting) ahead!

New Recordings Available

Dear friends,

I’m delighted to begin sharing performance highlights from the 2013 E-Gré tour. Watch for updates in the “Media” page throughout the week.

There is still lots of exciting contemporary music performances to come this season, starting with a conceptual concert installation, “Interprétation du Jour” beginning next week. I’ll have more to say about this project as we get nearer to Musikhochschule Stuttgart’s recurring celebration of contemporary music, the werk_statt_festival.