DEVELOPING ARTISTS GRANTS
2013 Grant Recipient
Classical Music (Piano) Winner
Christopher Kusuhara is a 20-year-old student from Burnaby, BC, entering his third year of study at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montréal this autumn. Christopher has received numerous music awards, having made performance appearances in BC and Montréal.
In submitting Christopher’s nomination, Sara Laimon, Associate Dean, Academic and Student Affairs, Associate Professor, Piano, Schulich School of Music of McGill University wrote, “Chris demonstrates a high level of skills, technique, talent and understanding of music that is well beyond his age. He has a strong work ethic, determination and commitment to his studies, always arriving prepared for lessons, coaching and performances. He has been selected as a finalist in major national competitions such as the Knigge Competition at UBC, the CMC Stepping Stone Competition, in addition to numerous merits at competitions prior to his time at McGill.”
In adjudicating Christopher’s performance submissions, the jury for classical piano found he “…sounded like a mature artist. His repertoire was difficult and the pianist has a virtuosic technique and flair for performance. The artist’s statement was excellent as well. It showed a personal side to the performer and the struggles pianists have in conveying their art to the audience.”
The jury for classical music piano included:
• John Hansen, Associate Professor Piano, Acadia University
• Michael Kim, Dean, School of Music, Brandon University
• Christina Petrowska Quilico, Professor of Piano and Musicology,
Every performance is an opportunity to develop and showcase my abilities as a musician. Often times, simple adjustments such as controlling my breathing and relaxing can improve a performance tremendously. In other cases, difficult sections and passages may have to be worked on for hours in the practice room so that I have the confidence to play to the best of my ability. As a performer, it is often difficult to judge the final product you present to the public. The personal reactions that you feel to your own playing on-stage are often not a true representation of what is being heard by the audience. I believe one of the best ways to improve and evaluate my playing is being able to hear my performance afterwards. Sometimes it is a painful process, similar to hearing your voice recorded for the first time. However, I believe it is a crucial aspect of developing as a musician: being able to listen carefully from the position of a third-party in order to analyze and evaluate. Through listening in this way, I begin to understand the music I play in a much more lucid manner and hear certain things that I would have otherwise missed in the heat of the moment.
It is my opinion that being able to play convincingly is much more important than simply delivering a message to an audience. Music has the remarkable ability to speak to each of us in an individual manner. As a performer, I find it important to not only play a work in its ‘raw’ form, but to truly understand what the meaning behind it is. Delivering a message convincingly becomes a much simpler task when one has a personal definition of the music at hand. As an artist, I try to play works that I can connect to and have a personal relationship to, even from the first listening. However, the challenge is in that my audiences often have similar personal relationships with what they hear, along with their own opinions and beliefs. Thus, I believe I have the crucial role as a performer to present the music in an honest and responsible manner, while at the same time delivering a message that will convince my audience of my interpretation.
I am inspired by people who work tirelessly to perfect their craft. Often times I find inspiration in many other fields, such as the culinary arts. As musicians, we are all involved in developing our skills on our respective instruments. On a consistent basis, we push ourselves to reach new heights of musical expression through our technical ability.
An important goal of mine is to keep sharing music with others. Like many other things in life, where this goal will take me, I have no idea yet. Perhaps it does not matter too much if I am able to continue to do what I love. Whether I am playing for young children at an elementary school who have never heard classical music before, or performing at a national competition for a distinguished jury, my only wish is to do my best in performing and sharing a convincing message with my audience. Many times as I continue to develop and progress, I am reminded of the many people who have helped me along the way to get to where I am now. We all need support to reach our goals, and I have been very lucky and fortunate in my life to have met incredible, caring people who have helped to shape to my life. Every time I finish a performance and take a bow, this is what I am reminded of.