Pianist Bryn Blackwood presents 2019 Eckhardt-Gramatté Concert at Mt. A, Nov. 1

On Friday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m., Mount Allison will play host to one of Canada’s most promising young pianists when Bryn Blackwood takes the stage in Brunton Auditorium (134 Main St.). Blackwood was the top-ranked performer at the 42nd annual Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition (Piano) and the recital in Sackville is part of his prizewinner’s tour.

Named for Canadian composer Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, the E-Gré is the most prestigious contemporary music competition for emerging Canadian performing artists in piano, voice and strings. Jurors for the 2019 competition – which took place April 19 to 21 at Brandon University – were Glenn Hodgins, Christina Petrowska Quilico, Laura Lowen and Mount Allison’s own Dr. David Rogosin, the Pickard-Bell chair in music.

The list of past competition prizewinners forms a “who’s who” of noteworthy Canadian musicians, including pianists Jon Kimura Parker and Angela Cheng, vocalists Ben Heppner and Hugh Russell and violinists Jasper Wood and James Ehnes. As the first-place winner for 2019, Blackwood received an award valued at nearly $15,000, including a cash award, a residency and debut recital in Italy at the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in July, and a cross-Canada tour during the months of October and November.

Blackwood is active as a solo and collaborative pianist in Toronto, Ont., and has always been extremely passionate about modern piano music. He received his bachelor of music degree from Western University, studying with James Hibbard, and master of music degree from McGill University, studying with Dr. Ilya Poletaev. He won Western University’s Fred Pattison Piano Competition and was a two-time finalist in McGill University’s Chamber Music Competition, performing with his piano trio. More recently, Blackwood was a finalist and winner of the Paul J. Bourret Memorial Award for Best Performance of the Test Piece at the 2018 Shean Piano Competition, and the winner of the 2019 Faculty of Music DMA Recital Competition for the University of Toronto. A recipient of a Joseph-Armand Bombardier SSHRC award for his studies of the Russian-American piano composer Leo Ornstein, he is currently studying with Marietta Orlov at the University of Toronto, working towards a doctorate of musical arts.

A highlight of the Sackville recital is the 2019 E-Gré commissioned work Far Beyond Things Finite by Canadian composer Brian Current. Blackwood will also present other works from Canada by Brian Cherney, Jean Coulthard, Jacques Hétu, Alexina Louie and Walter Buczynski, as well as pieces from America by Samuel Barber, George Crumb and Leo Ornstein, and a work by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have been named the winner of the 2019 E-Gré Competition!” said Blackwood. “Learning, preparing and connecting to this repertoire has been a joy.… I cannot wait to bring this music to the rest of Canada in the fall.”

Tickets will be available at the door ($15 adult, $10 senior and student, current Mt. A students free with student ID card) or through subscription to the concert series offered by the department of music. For further information, call 506-364-2374 or email music@mta.ca. Visit the department of music’s website at www.mta.ca/music.

Margaret Craig
Margaret Craig is a contributor to the Argosy.