From Canada, with love

Canadian pianist Beverley Gertsman takes her audience on a trip through her country’s finest soundscapes

December 03, 2016 04:04 pm | Updated 04:04 pm IST

It is always an exhilarating experience when we take our music to other places and all the more exciting when someone from another country comes over to share their music with us. Canadian pianist Beverley Gertsman did just that in a recent concert hosted by VioVoi Music Academy in collaboration with the Canadian Embassy and Furtados Music at Alliance Francaise.

Thrilled to be in the country, Beverley says: “It is my first visit to India and I’m enchanted by Bangalore already.”

On bringing music from Canada, she says it is a privilege to introduce a new audience to Canadian music. “I feel Canada has such a variety of sounds and cultures and I love to share that with people.

I like to have something to please everyone so my repertoire has classical music, popular music and even a little bit of jazz.”

Talking of her set list, Beverley says, “One is a piece based on the style of Beethoven. The composer, André Gagnon, loved Beethoven, as I do. I searched far and wide to find something that would reflect that. And I was very pleased to find this piece among his works. He is a very prolific and popular composer who used a lot of classical ideas as well. I also have something by the Canadian Mozart, André Mathieu. He was called that because he was a child prodigy who started composing at the age of four. He travelled to Paris at age seven and played his compositions. He composed in different styles, including Romantic, Impressionist and slightly more modern. He is a larger than life character. So I’m happy to expose people here to Mathieu’s music.”

What is her audience’s biggest takeaway from the experience? “A love of the music” she replies with a big smile. “And just to feel the emotions and different characters within the music – that to me is always very interesting.

I happen to love anything live because there are stronger vibrations. I remember when I was in Fontainebleau near Paris, French composer Nadia Boulanger was very old at that time. She was such a strong personality. She played one note and that note was imbued with such depth. I’d love to have that kind of presence.”

Beverley says her music is inspired by her mother. “She used to play the piano beautifully. I grew up listening to her and used to imitate her on the piano. So when I first started taking lessons, I wasn’t really reading the music. I was just listening to it and imitating it. I always had a love for the piano. I also wanted to play the violin. But we didn’t have one at home. We did have a piano.

I never practised much as a child. I regret that. I wasn’t pushed to practise and I was busy with other things. I had to force myself later on to discipline myself if I wanted to achieve something on the piano. I now work much harder than I used to. And I enjoy it.”

“And the music has brought me here,” she goes on. “I’m so fortunate. I love to travel. And I’m so lucky to be able to combine both my passions – performing and travelling – to make new experiences.” Beverley says she tries to communicate with the audience in the local language. “So every country I visit, I try to memorise and use the language of the land on stage. It is something I feel very strongly about. I think it’s important to impart something of the music and the composers to the audience in their language. Here I haven’t because of the various languages.”

To aspiring pianists, Beverley encourages them to find something in music that they love. “That is the most important thing. Find what you’re enthusiastic about and pursue it. That works even for life in general. And it is those people who live the longest too – those who have a love for anything in life.”

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