Eve Egoyan, piano
When/where: Saturday, 8 p.m. (Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, UVic)
Tickets: $25. Call 250-721-8480; online at tickets.uvic.ca; in person at the UVic Ticket Centre
VCM Presents: Walter Prossnitz, piano, with the DieMahler String Quartet
When/where: Sunday, 2: 30 p.m., Alix Goolden Hall (907 Pandora Ave.)
Tickets: Adults $20, seniors and students $15, Victoria Conservatory of Music faculty and students free. Call 250-386-5311; in person at the VCM front desk (900 Johnson St.)
Eve Egoyan and Walter Prossnitz, two Victoria-born pianists with international careers, perform this weekend in concert for hometown audiences. In the process they're renewing relationships with the University of Victoria and the Victoria Conservatory of Music.
Egoyan, who lives in Toronto, has long been admired as an interpreter of contemporary music; her last concert here, in January, was devoted to Simple Lines of Enquiry, which the late Canadian composer Ann Southam wrote for her in 2007 and which she has recorded. On Saturday evening she will perform Surface Tension, a collaborative work by her husband, installation artist David Rokeby, along with pieces by Erik Satie, Per NÃ¸rgÃ¥rd, and Alvin Curran - all composers whose music she has also recorded.
The concert is one of the Signature Events with which UVic is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding. Egoyan, who earned a bachelor of music degree there in 1985, is also one of 17 distinguished members of the university's 50th anniversary honorary cabinet, and proceeds from her concert will benefit a scholarship for fine-arts students.
In Surface Tension, first performed (by Egoyan) in 2009, the pianist plays a Disklavier (a piano that can be played normally but also features a computer interface) in front of a screen that projects computer-generated images. These images offer a "live" visual interpretation of various musical parameters of the piano performance, often by drawing on natural processes - falling snow, ripples in water, the "swarming" behaviour of animals, planetary trajectories. But the pianist also responds to the visual images, which in turn respond to the responses - a process Egoyan compares to a "feedback loop," in which music and imagery are equal partners in an integrated sensory experience.
(Excerpts from Surface Tension can be viewed at davidrokeby.com.)
The work has five movements - "five very different visual worlds," Egoyan says, "but always beautiful and exhilarating." Though the music is loosely structured and Egoyan reuses certain strategies that have proved effective in past performances, what she plays is largely improvised, and she stresses that the relationship of music and imagery here is inherently "fluid," with "an element of play and surprise that makes this piece very special."
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Like Egoyan, Walter Pross-nitz left Victoria but has maintained a connection with it over the years. Unlike Egoyan, he has returned to stay, and his concert on Sunday afternoon celebrates his recent appointment as head of the conservatory's keyboard department. It also launches the second season of the concert series VCM Presents.
In his youth, Prossnitz studied with Robin Wood at the conservatory. Later he studied in Vienna and in New York - he holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the Juilliard School - and during the same period he won first prizes in two prestigious Canadian competitions, the CIBC National Music Festival and the MSO Con-cours.
In 1987 he moved from New York to Zurich, where he taught at the local conservatory while also performing around the world - including many recitals and concerto appearances in Victoria and elsewhere around B.C. He appeared here most recently in July 2011, in a recital at the university that included works by Haydn, Liszt and Franck, as well as some preludes of his own composition. (He has not severed his European connections, incidentally. He will be back in Switzerland in November to give concerts.)
Prossnitz has chosen to mark his return to Victoria with chamber music, joined by the recently formed DieMahler String Quartet, with two of whose members - first violinist Pablo Diemecke and cellist Lawrence Skaggs - he has a performing history dating back to the 1970s.
Sunday's substantial program will feature an interesting mix of Baroque and Romantic fare. To begin each half, Prossnitz will perform a concerto by Bach (he has more than 40 concertos in his repertoire) with the quartet substituting for a string orchestra - a practice perfectly acceptable by 18th-century standards. Each half will culminate in a big late-19thcentury masterpiece: Franck's darkly impassioned Piano Quintet in F Minor, and DvorÃ¡k's colourful and vivacious Op. 81 quintet, in A major.
Incidentally, Prossnitz says that the Franck quintet might be of particular interest to residents of coastal Victoria: There is a recurring motif in the finale that, he says, reminds him of seagulls.
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