Nfld. & Labrador·Parkway Sessions

From New York to Newfoundland: Florian Hoefner brings big city jazz experience to St. John's

"I have to say, it's a great place to be as a jazz musician," Florian Hoefner says of his new home. See his trio's performance of Winter in June, inspired by the blustery weather he has encountered since his move, as part of our Parkway Sessions series.

Watch the Florian Hoefner Trio perform Winter in June

Florian Hoefner says St. John's is 'a great place to be as a jazz musician.' (Lukas Wall/CBC)

After six years living and performing in New York City, jazz pianist Florian Hoefner is adjusting to a change of pace while living in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

When Hoefner's wife, Christine Carter, was hired to teach clarinet and saxophone at Memorial University's school of music, the couple moved to St. John's.

"I just took the chance and just followed her and had no idea what I would encounter here … and I have to say it's a great place to be as a jazz musician," he said.

"It's a great base for me. I really appreciate the nature and the slower pace. Everything is close. You don't lose hours on the subway every day, so I just found myself having way more time to focus on writing and practising."

Hoefner is now also teaching at MUN as part of a new minor in jazz studies program that expands on the university's core courses in classical music.

"Now, they can choose a minor in jazz along with their classical studies, so they get the best of both worlds, where they have their classical private instruction and then they learn all about improvisation and jazz chords, comping, playing in a combo," he said.

"It's a really exciting opportunity for me. I love working with students. The students here are especially eager to learn and enthusiastic about jazz, so I'm very excited about that."

Watch Winter in June, performed as part of the Florian Hoefner Trio's Parkway Session:

Hoefner said living in St. John's does have some challenges for a professional jazz musician, however.

There aren't the same opportunities to listen to and perform with such skilled jazz musicians in St. John's, but the relationships he established with other musicians while living in New York have allowed Hoefner to continue to grow his career away from the hustle and bustle.

"It works for me here because I've paid my dues. I've been in the big cities, I've been in Berlin and New York, and I've made connections that I now can build on to continue my career," he said.

"I usually travel to play. I do tours on the mainland, in the U.S., sometimes in Europe, so it's the home base and then I just travel and do my thing.… It's a good deal for me." 

Hoefner met bassist Andrew Downing and drummer Nick Fraser while playing in Toronto. (Lukas Wall/CBC)

Life in Newfoundland and Labrador has also influenced the music on Hoefner's trio album First Spring with bassist Andrew Downing and drummer Nick Fraser, like the tune Winter in June, written a few years ago.

"It was a particularly long winter while we were still waiting for some sun, for some better temperatures in June, and there was a snowstorm announced on the radio," he said.

"This was around the time when I was working on this tune and it had this melancholic vibe, so I took that as a title for it."

But Hoefner said the harsh weather of his new home isn't all bad.

"I have to say that the long winters, they have their good sides as well. They make you productive, right? As long as you can't go outside, you stay inside and you get your work and your composing and practising done."

Parkway Sessions: Discover more music

CBC Newfoundland and Labrador is bringing you new performances from local talent, recorded live in Studio F in St. John's.

Tune into more Parkway Sessions, and other performances of music from Newfoundland and Labrador on our YouTube channel.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lukas Wall

CBC News

Lukas Wall is a journalist with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John's.

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