Spot the wolf?

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The other side of the building is not a butt.

 

I’m beginning to understand the difficulty in keeping up a blog (and active website). You don’t want to inundate audiences with ceaseless posts about nothing, but with each day that passes between posts you feel like the post must be THAT much more worthy. And so you take a stab at a post, and constantly tell yourself it isn’t enough of a post to merit the amount of time that has passed. It’s a horrible cycle.

So I here I am to break that cycle with a mundane, just-OK post from my tour with Prairie Debut.

For those of you keeping track, I last left you in sweet anticipation of my performance of Beethoven 4 with l’Orchestre Intemporel and Frederic-Alexandre Michaud. By all accounts, it went OK. It was not bad. It had good moments. I’ll give you my proper verdict when I get my hands on the recording. Until then, enjoy this photo (this part looks like it sounded OK).

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Janelle and I are on Part Two of our Prairie Debut tour. We have been on quite the hectic schedule – we recently came off of a seven-concert back-to-back run… complete with school shows and workshops. I have done some pretty hectic schedules, but this last leg really took me for a ride. We began with a performance in Yorkton, followed by a day off, followed by concerts in Estevan, Shaunavon, Watrous, Rosthern, Biggar, Regina and Carman. We’re now in the Yukon completing Part Two.

It has been phenomenal seeing the Prairies (+ Yukon) in all their glory. No matter how tired or grumpy I may be, I am always bowled over by the beauty of Canada… even when I’m witnessing it on very little sleep and in the beginning of a very long drive.

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I may or may not have taking this while driving. Maybe.

I don’t have too much to add for the moment. This was to get back on the wagon and get back to posting. Suffice it to say, it’s been a real treat meeting each and every presenter and audience member on our tour so far. We’re currently in Whitehorse wrapping up this leg of the tour.

Now, here’s a raven. It’s huge. And they’re everywhere.

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That bird is way bigger than you think.

Fall has sprung

In an effort to keep you, dear reader, coming back to my website, I will be waxing poetic on all things musical in Montreal (and abroad).

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It has been a very busy and exciting October! First things first, I’d like to congratulate the wonderful finalists from McGill’s Golden Violin competition. It was a pleasure to work with each of my (very-deserving) friends in preparation for this concert, as well as take part in their riveting performances. Andrea Stewart performed a brilliant Beethoven sonata (the fifth, for those of you keeping track) as well as some Saariaho and Ligeti, Elizabeth Skinner rocked out on Prok(ofiev)’s D major sonata, some beautiful Bach and Kreisler, and the glorious finale from Franck’s Sonata (the Frank Sinatra), and finally, Chan Lee opened with Ysäye, charmed with some Mozart Adagio, then blew the top off the hall with the first movement of Strauss’ Sonata.

It was a great evening of music-making, and a wonderful showcase of McGill’s finest talent. Read more about the competition to find out who nabbed the $25,000 prize (hint: not me) and an itty-bitty golden violin pin.

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Montreal (and Quebec) is an incredible place. Full stop.

I can’t think of many other cities in the world where you will find, in six days, opening concerts for three new orchestras led by enthusiastic, talented young conductors. Well, I exaggerate a little for drama’s sake… one of the orchestra’s started a year ago or so… but still!  This last Thursday saw the debut of Orchestre lyrique de Montréal (OLM) led by Simon Rivard and Ben Kepes. The programmed one of Mahler’s “shorter” symphonies, the Fourth, as well as one of my favorite Mozart concerti, Concerto No. 20 in D minor, with a pianist who defies all superlatives, Olivier Godin.

Tonight features Orchestre symphonique de L’Agora (OSA) under the baton of Nicolas Ellis. There must be some Mahler in the Montreal water… they’ll be performing Mahler’s first symphony, followed by the fiendishly difficult Second Piano Concerto by Prokofiev. The pianist is Philippe Prud’homme – I haven’t met him personally (I think) but I’ve only heard wonderful things. Go check them out! Details here.

The last orchestra in this trio of concerts is Point d’Arrêt’s Orchestre Intemporel (OI). Led by Frédéric-Alexandre Michaud (FAM) and concertmaster Alexander Read (FULL DISCLAIMER: I’m also playing in this concert!). FAM has chosen some of his favorite works for his conducting debut: Rimsky-Korsakov’s fantastic Schéhérazade and Beethoven’s sublime Fourth Piano Concerto (that’s the one I’m in). I hope you will make an effort to come support this great initiative and to hear me play! I promise to dedicate one scale from one of my eight million scales to you. Two scales, if you bring a friend. THIS Wednesday night (29th) at the Oscar Peter Hall at Concordia University. Details here.

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This could be your view. Or maybe someone else’s…

Maybe there’ll be a head blocking your view. I guess you’ll have to come to FIND OUT.

I spent some time trying to think of some witty way to bring up the fact that each concert features a piano concerto. Something something smart programming something something pianists rock. There.

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If you find yourself unable to contain your excitement at hearing me play on Wednesday (I’d prescribe a glass of wine to temper that), you could shuffle your way over to the Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur on Sunday afternoon (tomorrow!) as I perform with some of my McGill colleagues: Douglas McNabney, Elizabeth Dolin, and Axel Strauss. We returned late last night from Bishops’s University where we presented the program to an appreciative audience of students and folks from Lennoxville. I know it went well because one student came up to me and told me, “You know… we have to come to these concerts for our grades…but I would TOTALLY have come to this ANYWAY. That was awesome!”. I’ve already added that gem to my press quotes. Bloch, Mendelssohn, and the outrageously powerful Piano Quartet in C minor by Brahms. Details here.

Welcome… finally.

Spring has sprung. The grass is riz. I wonder where the time went… 

Spring was a long time ago. A time when I thought beautiful websites blossomed like May flowers – a bit of sun, a bit of rain, and poof!

It turned out to be something totally different. It was a long, arduous journey, wherein many a calamity befell me; but in the end, I emerged victorious! I couldn’t have done it without my most trusted companion, a sage of the website-ways, a wizard of the internet’s gizzards, a Jedi of the online… something… : Rob Sherwood!  Thanks to Rob’s expertise, I have now swelled the ranks of the active websites on the internet from 177,831,433 to a mighty 177,831,434! Rob, now you too have done your part for the world wide web! Take a bow!

So. Now you’re here. And perhaps somehow you’ve made it to this sentence. Well, since you’re here, and still reading, you might as well stop reading and take a look around before you leave? I promise that if you look around now, and then come back in a week or so, I will have new shiny things for you to look at.

 In the meantime, please enjoy all the shiny things already on display.

 

Yours truly

Phil Chiu