Everett Hopfner, competitor in Eckhardte-Gramatte Competition(Diana Rozos)
I have played George Crumb's Vox Balaenae in the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History, with amplified instrumental sounds booming from speakers positioned among dozens of whale skeletons.
—Everett Hopfner, pianist
As most of us are planning our weekend, a group of pianists are squirreled away in practise rooms at the Brandon School of Music. They are warming up to compete in the 36th Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition.
Five pianists from across Canada are vying for the top spot at the E-Gré. Winning is a big deal for a young musician because it provides a kickstart to their career. Not only do they win a cash prize, they also get valuable exposure through a concert tour across Canada.
Twenty-four year old Brandon University graduate and Ste. Rose du Lac native Everett Hopfner travelled back from Germany to take part in the competition, so SCENE asked the young pianist why he's so fired up about contemporary music:
I am constantly excited by the infinite possibilities in the world of contemporary music. I moved to Frankfurt in 2010 to study with Catherine Vickers. I was inspired by her insight, persistence, dedication, and the personal relationships she fosters with her students. Professor Vickers is a champion of contemporary music, and she has always encouraged and supported my interest in contemporary repertoire.
New music is my specialty and there are some incredibly diverse performance opportunities in Frankfurt. During my time there, I have played George Crumb's Vox Balaenae in the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History, with amplified instrumental sounds booming from speakers positioned among dozens of whale skeletons.
I've collaborated with composers and multimedia visual artists to premiere new music works accompanying newly created silent films.
I've played in major concert halls across the country as a keyboardist of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie. Frankfurt is a thriving international community, and I have literally worked with musicians from around the globe - most recently developing a new work for prepared piano with the Iranian composer Seyed Sina Sadeghpour.
The skill set I need to perform this repertoire expands my mind and constantly evolves. I love performing pieces that use the stage and the instrument in unexpected ways, whether it means slowly crawling around the stage and under the piano in a theatrical piece, setting up speakers and live electronic controls for electroacoustic music, or developing the vocal technique to speak, sing, laugh, and scream my way through Jerome Kitzke's Sunflower Sutra (based on the poem by Allen Ginsberg).
Returning to Canada for the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition is a wonderful occasion for me. Besides the joy of being back in my home province, and at my alma mater, the competition is a chance to share my music with a new audience - always an exciting prospect, and something I never take for granted.
The 36th Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition takes place Friday to Sunday, May 3 - 5 in Lorne Watson Recital Hall at Brandon University School of Music.