“Featuring everything from a Bach Capriccio and Beethoven string quartet to a Rossini Overture for one piano six hands and performances for all ages — indoors and out, this is Honens’ musical love letter to the city of Calgary.” Honens Artistic Director Jon Kimura Parker makes the comments in a media release.
Surely, Esther Honens, the philanthropist and amateur pianist whose love of both classical music and her hometown of Calgary led to the creation of the Honens International Piano Competition Foundation in 1991, would approve of the 2019 iteration of her namesake festival, featuring competition alumni, rising stars, pianos, and more pianos.
Georgian pianist Nicolas Namoradze shocked the jury at the 2018 Honens International Piano Competition with a spectacular performance of his own Etudes. He went on to win the competition in September 2018 and performs at this year’s festival in a program simply titled A Study in Etudes, including works by Bowen and Scriabin as well as Namoradze’s own Etudes I-VI.
Polish Duo 19:21, consisting of Karolina Mikołajczyk (piano) and Iwo Jedynecki (accordion,) seem like an unlikely combination of instruments, but in fact they explore the repertoire of works written for piano and harmonium — a kind of precursor of the accordion, of sorts — by composers like Liszt, Franck, and Saint-Saëns.
The Miró Quartet, based in Austin, Texas and including Calgary native William Fedkenheueris the Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Texas. The ensemble has won numerous awards, including first prizes at the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Naumburg Chamber Music Competition. They’ll be performing a concert of Brahms and the Schumanns, joined by festival AD Jon Kimura Parker.
Brooklyn, New York-based composer, singer, and songwriter, and rising star in the classical world, Gabriel Kahane brings his wildly popular take on modern classical music to the festival to perform Book of Travelers. He wrote the song cycle after travelling by train 8,980 miles around the United States in the wake of the 2016 federal election talking to people. He calls the piece “a kind of loose diary of that journey, and as a portrait of America at a time of profound national turbulence.” He’s joined by the artists of Duo 19:21 for the concert.
Honens Competition alumnus Katherine Chi joins fellow pianists Jon Kimura Parker, Nicolas Namoradze, and others in a celebration of iconic Canadian composer Alexina Louie for her 70th birthday. The composer will be making a brief appearance.
In an unusual pairing, pianist Pedja Mužijević presents the Bach Dialogues – a concert of the works of Bach alongside 21st-century composers David Fulmer and James Joslin.
Pianists Aleksander Kryżanowski, Pedja Mužijević, Nicolas Namoradze, and Jon Kimura Parker will regale an outdoor audience on the Stephen Avenue Walk with a free program of J.S. Bach, Brahms, Copland, and Rachmaninov, among others.
Honens Family Day at the festival includes Masterclasses for piano and violin, and Storytellers, a special family-friendly concert that will look at the difference between classical violin and country fiddling, and other things that are the Same, Only Different.
The Festival wraps up on the Sunday at Calgary’s Central Memorial Park with Open Air, a free outdoor concert featuring one accordion, two pianos, and a string quartet in a mixed program.
The Honens International Piano Competition Foundation also awards the Honens International Piano Competition, formerly known as the Esther Honens International Piano Competition. With a prize of $100K, the largest afforded to emerging pianists in the world, the Competition has been held since 1992, and since 2000, every three years. The competition routinely attracts rising young stars from around the world, with a profile that has been rising steadily in the classical music world.
The Honens Festival returns to Calgary September 5 to 8, 2019. Tickets to the 2019 Festival, available April 9 at honens.com.