(Photo credit: Nick Kozak)
“These composers whose music we hear so much, they were living, breathing people, who had a very practical side to their lives, their performing career.” ~ Adam Sherkin
Each of the monthly concerts introduces a notable classical composer-pianist. Each is also being performed by an excellent composer-pianist – Adam composes contemporary classical music and will be including his own works in each concert.
Adam, who says he got turned on to composition “a bit late, at 18-19,” started out studying piano performance, but felt that composing was a natural complement to his pianistic endeavour. Following his undergrad in music performance, he went to England to do his master’s degree in composition. Once he began his concertizing career, Adam says he’s always included his own work on the program.
“I kind of evolved as someone who did both, and I really didn’t want to give up one or the other,” he says.
The idea for the series came to Adam when he did a tour of the Golden Horseshoe last season. The tour, called Write Off The Keyboard, paired familiar, well-known names – Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff – with Adam’s own complementary pieces. Motivated by the overwhelmingly positive audience response, Adam suggested something similar to the St. Lawrence Centre, which was looking for ways to make better use of its lobby space. The result was a noon-hour series of six monthly concerts. Each 45-minute performance would be absolutely free and would pair the work of a single composer-pianist with a complementary piece written by Adam, and some spoken commentary to put the music into context.
“Each show features a major work by one of these composers and then something complementary by myself, whether that’s a new piece or something specifically written for the other repertoire being performed,” he says.
Adam has been experimenting with this format for five years now, fine-tuning the mix of familiar classical pieces, contemporary classical, and his own original work. But one thing’s certain: He’s never completely moved away from the classical canon, and says this is not likely to change. Because really, traditional and contemporary classical realities aren’t that different.
Adam explains, “these composers whose music we hear so much, they were living, breathing people, who had a very practical side to their lives, their performing career. So in understanding they weren’t just ivory tower figures, that they were engaged in a fairly hands-on craft as well, in playing their own and other people’s music much like we hear today, I hope people connect with their works in a little bit of a modern context.”
The concerts – did I mention they’re free? – are a great chance to revisit the familiar classical pieces and take a stroll into new territory.
The series culminates in May with a full, two-hour concert, featuring a program of contemporary works by various Canadian composers. But whether or not you make the concert, you should definitely stop by for the noon-hour series.
“It’s a proven platform that’s just pleasant and always convivial. People can bring their lunch and then go back to their office or whatever they were doing. It’s always very enjoyable,” Adam says.
Be sure to catch some Rachmaninoff at noon this Thursday, at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts.
Don’t miss the rest of the series:
Mozart: Involuntary Genius - Dec 4, 2014, 12:00pm
Chopin: Poetic Jest – Feb 5, 2015, 12:00pm
Liszt: Wild New Wizardry – Mar 5, 2015, 12:00pm
Beethoven: Near Perfect As Promised – Apr 2, 2015, 12:00pm