Pianists flock to Lunenburg to play for legendary Martha Argerich

For Dorothy Khadem-Missagh, learning music from one of the world's greatest living pianists in an intimate setting in the tiny town of Lunenburg, N.S., is a dream come true.

Argerich is only playing in North America twice this year — and once is in Lunenburg on Sunday

Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, seen here in Tokyo, is working with students in Nova Scotia. (The Associated Press)

For Dorothy Khadem-Missagh, learning music from one of the world's greatest living pianists in an intimate setting in the tiny town of Lunenburg, N.S., is a dream come true.

Khadem-Missagh is one of six young pianists taking a week-long master class with Martha Argerich, the three-time Grammy award winning piano player.

"I grew up seeing Martha as a really exemplary pianist. Especially as a woman," said Khadem-Missagh.

"I am very grateful to my mother because she basically instilled this love for music in my heart. She had this dream of me being able to play for Martha, to meet her and to just have this personal experience." 

1 of only 2 North American shows in 2017

Dorothy Khadm-Missagh calls Martha Argerich a 'lioness' of the music world. (CBC)

The 24-year old pianist from Vienna, Austria, grew up in a musical family. Surrounded by violinists, Khadem-Missagh could barely walk when she tried the cello and violin. At the ripe old age of three, she decided the piano would be her destiny.

Argentina's Argerich also got her big break at age 24, when in 1965 she rose to fame after winning the International Chopin Piano Competition. Three of the Lunenburg students will get a chance to perform with the 75-year-old pianist.

Argerich will perform alongside the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance's pianist-in-residence Walter Delahunt at a gala concert Sunday at 5 p.m. to raise money for the academy's programs.

Burt Wathen, LAMP's artistic director, first saw Argerich play in 1979 and developed a friendship with the world-class pianist over the years. Delahunt and Wathen worked tirelessly to convince Argerich to work with them and perform at LAMP in one of only two appearances in North America this year.

Playing for Argerich 'something spectacular'

David Potvin returned to Nova Scotia to study with Argerich. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's David Potvin, a masters student at the University of Toronto, noticed a post on social media to study with Argerich and knew he had to come home to be part of this chance of a lifetime.

"It's something that I don't think any pianist would ever dream that they would have the opportunity to let alone meet her, but actually play for her is something spectacular," said Potvin.

"The way she plays doesn't seem to be calculated or anything; it's so personal. She is also able to play very, very fast but still never seems to sacrifice any of the nuance or shading that sometimes happens when people play really fast."

Khadem-Missagh said studying at LAMP has been a world-class experience.

"I've met so many wonderful people. It's a wonderful atmosphere here at LAMP. I'm very happy to come and make music and be in touch with musicians of such high standards, to develop my own musical tastes and abilities and experience music together with so many colleagues, teachers and artists," she said.