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A prize-winning Manitoba pianist's top contemporary picks

As the winner of the prestigious Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition, Everett Hopfner has been on a whirlwind tour for the past three weeks. Based in Germany but having grown up in Ste. Rose du Lac, he is relishing the opportunity to share his love for contemporary piano music with the country.

Everett Hopfner, winner of the prestigious E-Gré Competition, plays in Manitoba on Nov. 10 and 12

Hopfner studied at Brandon University and is now based in Germany. (Submitted)

Everett Hopfner has become used to life on the road.

As the winner of the prestigious Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, he's been on a whirlwind tour for the past three weeks. Based in Germany but having grown up in Ste. Rose du Lac, Hopfner is relishing the opportunity to share his love for contemporary piano music with the country. 

Nov. 10, Winnipeg: 2:00pm Muriel Richardson Auditorium, Winnipeg Art Gallery

Nov. 12 Brandon: 8:00pmLorne Watson Recital Hall, Brandon University

Nov. 14 Calgary:  8:00pm Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, University of Calgary

Nov. 19 Thunder Bay: 12:30pm Jean McNulty Recital Hall, Lakehead University

"I've got 11 concerts in 25 days all across Canada from Calgary to Charlottetown," said Hopfner. "So it's a really special experience for me - I don't spend as much time in Canada as I would like to." 

Considered the most important contemporary music competition for emerging Canadian performers, the E-Gré is a celebration of Canadian musicians and composers. Hopfner, who studied music at Brandon University, says that contemporary Canadian music is exciting, important, and immediate. 

"I believe very strongly in its value in telling today's stories," said Hopfner. "When we're able to convey the stories and the ideas and the dreams of these composers through actual personal interactions with them - it brings the music so much closer to a personal connection." 

Want to know more about contemporary music but don't know where to start? Manitoba Scene asked the award-winning pianist to share his top three picks for a crash course in contemporary piano:

Jerome Kitzke: Sunflower Sutra

This piece pushed my pianistic boundaries further than any other. On its face, it's a piano piece - but it's also spoken-word poetry, singing, acting, and a total performance art work. Studying and performing this piece has awoken new confidence and commitment in my playing, and I plan to build a program of other pieces for "speaking pianist" in the future.​

 

Randolph Peters: Hallucinations

The commissioned work of the 2013 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition is an arresting virtuosic journey through insanity, inspired by the work of neurologist Oliver Sacks. I am beginning each concert of the Winner's Tour with this dramatic and powerful piece.

Mathias Spahlinger: Farben der Frühe

Mathias Spahlinger's massive work for seven pianos (!) was a huge challenge, but a whole lot of fun and a big boost to my understanding of European trends in 20th- and 21st-century music. I took part in the Frankfurt premiere in collaboration with students and faculty from the Frankfurt and Stuttgart music universities.

 

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