DEVELOPING ARTISTS GRANTS
2012 Grant Recipient
Classical Music (Piano) Winner
Bryn Wiley is an 18-year-old student from Calgary, AB entering his first year of study at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal this fall. In addition to his numerous music awards and performances, Bryn received athletic awards throughout his high school career. An active volunteer, Bryn wrote and performed multiple educational presentations on the history of the keyboard and basic knowledge of the evolution of classical music for children aged 7-9 years at the Cantos Music Foundation, Calgary . In the summer of 2011, he worked as a Research Assistant in the Neuroscience Laboratory of Dr. Q. Pittman, University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine. He also performed as a member of the Calgary Civic Symphony, in senior’s residences and provided accompaniment at a violin teacher’s studio.
In submitting Bryn’s nomination, Sara Laimon, Associate Dean, Academic and Student Affairs, Associate Professor, Piano, Schulich School of Music of McGill University wrote, “It gives me great pleasure to nominate Bryn Wiley as a candidate under consideration for a classical music piano scholarship through the Hnatyshyn Foundation. When Bryn auditioned for our Piano Performance program this year, all eyes and ears turned: this is a talent worth nurturing and he shines with the best applicants who have applied to the undergraduate performance program at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. With numerous prize-winning pianists in recent years, this is no small feat. What makes Bryn even more impressive is that his excellence is not at all limited to his record as a successful young pianist. In reviewing Bryn’s file, it is evident that this is a young man with ambition, high standards, and who strives for his personal best in all that he pursues be it academics, athletics or music. ”
In adjudicating Mr. Wiley’s performance submissions, the jury for classical piano found he was “a promising and confident artist. The candidate seemed at ease playing with an orchestra and his or her interest in new music is evident… is not afraid to make bold musical statements… there should be great potential for the future.”
The jury for classical music piano included:
Brent Barraclough, Classical Pianist, Not-for-profit Director and Film Producer
Louise Bessette, Professor of piano at the Montréal Conservatory of Music
Anton Kuerti, Pianist and Recording Artist
Outside of the numerous attempts to define it in a purely scientific sense, music can be described as the language of emotion. It is a universally understood medium for expression, however simple or intellectualized it maybe. In my performances, I take this very seriously to heart, and I believe that the most important aspect of a performance is the communication of emotion and feeling to the audience. To fully achieve this, I believe that there are several things that are required. The performer must have an almost personal and intimate connection with the composer through the piece and understanding of the style. Performers must have the ability to overcome the obstacle that is the separation of individual emotions. That is to say, no-one can experience exactly what someone else does, no-one can feel the exact same way that someone else feels. Despite this, for a performance to be truly touching and effective, the performer must have the ability to imitate the expression felt in the composer to the best extent possible, most often without even having met the composer face to face. This can only be achieved through a deep understanding of the piece, and a deep understanding of the composer’s intentions. Also, because one can never truly become the composer, or fully feel the way that they have, they must make the piece their own. While still being a vessel for the composer’s wishes, in order to make it authentic and real a bit of the performer’s personality and personal experience must be added. It is a very fine balance, but it is what makes us listen when we hear the likes of Horowitz or Rubenstien. The very best of compositions were written regarding the universality of the human condition, so when someone adds a bit of themselves it makes the composition truly come alive. No-one knows Beethoven like Beethoven , so when we become the best Beethoven that we can be, in our own way, with our own versions of the passions he puts into the music, the piece becomes truly dynamic, expressive and ultimately effective. If we strive instead to be perfect Beethovens, it is a waste of the incredible potential of our own feelings, which can easily find a place in his music.
Of course, it is one thing to speak about emotion. But in the performance hall, one must realize that you are not performing purely for yourself. The purpose of a performance is for it to be heard and understood by others. This involves a fine sense of balance. We cannot be too introvert about a piece, as to leave the audience with a confused understanding, or too extrovert, as to leave them grasping for a deeper meaning. We cannot make a piece a pure emotional effect, and leave it intellectually lacking, but we cannot turn it into a mathematical exercise of precision. It is the balance of emotion and intelligence that makes a performance, and makes a complete performer.
In terms of goals and aspirations, I am vastly intrigued by the new. I am most inspired, and most affected, when I hear a recording of a performer taking on a piece in a way I had never thought to before, or a piece written by a composer or in a style I had never heard of before. I find to hear a piece played in the way you’ve heard it played many times before quite a bit less engaging than to hear a completely new take on it, something that makes you challenge all your assumptions on it. It is this fresh take on an old favourite that makes it come alive again, that makes it immortal. For this end, I aspire to try to bring a different sound to the pieces that I play. I try to instil a perspective that is uniquely my own, that will hopefully make the piece come alive again for the listener. Instead of having the listener follow along, evaluating my deviances from pre-conceived notions about a piece, I want to challenge what they’ve thought about it, to have them gain more from the listening experience by hearing more in the piece. Along this same vein, I consider it a goal of myself as an artist to explore and present lesser known repertoire, especially of a contemporary age. Nothing is quite like when you hear a great work for the first time, and there are new, great works being composed in the present, never heard by the majority of concert-goers. I think there is a great potential in this, for both me and the audience.