Monday, May 04, 2009

Vancouver International Song Institute's Collaborative Piano Conference Schedule for June 12-14

Here is the complete schedule for the Collaborative Piano Conference at the Vancouver Interational Song Institute to be held at the University of British Columbia from June 12-14. The Collaborative Piano Conference is part of VISI's Collaborative Piano Retreat which runs from June 10-17.

Vancouver International Song Institute
Conference for Collaborative Pianists

Friday June 12

Our panel of distinguished collaborative pianists tackles some of the questions for educators and students in this field: Why choose to pursue this professional track instead of solo piano? What should a Collaborative Piano Degree program comprise? Stowe, Garrett, Dawson, Griffiths, d’Amato, and others.

12-1:30 LUNCH

1:30 Professor Margo Garrett, The Juilliard School
“Scenes from a life”
An interview with the distinguished master teacher of Collaborative Piano. Her artistic life in collaboration includes a panoramic spectrum of musical partners, and collaborations with composers and writers of some of the great American art song works of our time. Many VISI faculty have been mentored by Professor Garrett, who returns to VISI to share her knowledge with the next generation of collaborative pianists.

2:30 INTERVIEW WITH FACULTY Michelle Swab, Memorial University
Ms. Swab has conducted an extensive survey of professional collaborative pianists, inquiring about the collaborative dynamics between singers and pianists. She will pose some of the in-depth questions from her research survey for general input from faculty and discussion with students and audience members.

3:30 4:30 Professor Alison d’Amato, University at Buffalo
“The Care and Feeding of a Singer”
Many collaborative piano students may read this title and think “Oh, good, I need to know how to be there for my partner for his/her intense vocal and artistic demands.” But, really, shouldn’t you be concerned about your own needs too? What are you, chopped liver? This talk will address the artistic and emotional responsibilities of the collaborative pianist, exploring the often-elusive balance of supportive behavior, self-awareness, and self-preservation that leads to strong and fulfilling collaborations.

7:00 pm Dinner for Speakers

Saturday June 13

10:30 Professor Ken Griffiths, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
“Playing the Text – especially in Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin
Given the frequency with which young undergraduate tenors are assigned excerpts from Die schöne Müllerin, it is usually under such conditions that most young pianists encounter these genial Lieder for the first time. Hence, it is easy to assume that what passes for acceptable at that time becomes established as ‘this is how it goes’. Only when a pianist has studied sufficient German language and literature is (s)he really in a position to begin to ‘play the text’ and become truly one with the singer and the work.
My intent is to focus on selected Lieder from the cycle, place each in context and then address specific pianistic and interpretive issues in each Lied. This will be facilitated by the involvement of faculty singers, so that the pianists will have experienced art song singers to respond to.

12:00 Lunch

1:30 FORUM: What’s in a name? “Accompanist,” “Collaborative Pianist,” or something else again?
A schism has formed over the identification of our profession. The two terms bear many implications, and each has its advocates and detractors. Further, the musical world of vocal and instrumental partners, the network of music presenters, teachers of young artists, and the general concert-going public have become quite uncertain as to the “new rules.” Some have embraced the new term, while in some circumstances insisting on the term “collaborative pianist” can even put one at professional risk. What are the merits and problems of each term – and is there a third option yet to emerge?

2: 30 Arlene Shrut, New Triad for Collaborative Arts
“This Side the Ground”
Dr. Shrut shares her many joys and lessons learned from a creative life both launched and anchored in art song. Arlene will discuss how her performing, teaching, coaching, entrepreneurial activities, and overall point of view are inspired by Agee’s poetry: “all is healed, all is health.”

3: 30 Break

4:00 Christopher Foley, The Royal Conservatory of Music
“Blogging the Piano in Ensemble”
Begun as a side project in 2005 by Dr. Foley, the Collaborative Piano Blog has grown to become one of the top classical music blogs in the world and a major source of information and community for those in the collaborative piano field. This workshop will look at the resources available on the Collaborative Piano Blog, its history, goals, business model, and growth as a new media outlet for both classical music and music education.

8:00pm Art Song Recital: VISI Artists in Concert - Simson, Garrett, Shay, Switzer, Guth, d’Amato, McMurtry, and more.

Sunday June 14th

1:00- 3:00pm Masterclass with Margo Garrett
A masterclass focusing on the pianist’s art, with facilitated collaboration by VISI faculty singers.

3:30 Professor Laura Loewen, University of Manitoba
“Passionate Diction”
Discovering the unique cadence of each language helps us to understand the nuance of words and music in art songs. The sounds and rhythms of language are the tools through which poetry’s expression is infused into Art Song, turning vowels and consonants into emotional memes laden with implication and passion.

4:30 Michelle Swab, Memorial University of Newfoundland
"Pianist/Singer Bows and the Embodiment of Relationship in Western Classical Art Song Recital"
The human body is intrinsic to musical activity. Carefully coordinated body movements produce musical sound, bodies hear and respond to music, and music events contain a great variety of bodily motions. Ethnomusicologists and musicologists alike are increasingly interested in the various meanings inscribed in the moving, interacting, experiencing, transforming and resisting bodies of performers and participants at music events. Drawing upon contemporary scholarly literature theorizing the body, this presentation examines the bowing movements of pianists and singers in art song recital. Many collaborative pianists reject the subordinate framing inherent in the sequence and style of bowing movements dictated by traditional performance etiquette. Thus, bowing gestures have emerged as a particularly embodied site in the ongoing negotiations for equality between pianists and singers. Attention will be given to the ways that pianists may contest subordinate framing through movement and gesture. Factors such as gender, age, personality and the personal rapport between the singer and pianist will also be considered. Illustrative video examples will be shown, drawn primarily from the eight-volume Voices of Our Time DVD recital series.

7:30pm Collaborative Piano Party
A gathering for students and professional collaborative pianists. Stories from the stage – and behind the scenes will be shared in this private event for all participants of the conference.

All events are subject to change - please check the VISI website for updates. Singers, instrumentalists, and the general public are welcome to audit all events except the Sunday evening party. Rates for auditing are $10 for a morning or afternoon session, $20 per day, or $50 for the entire weekend.

The VISI Collaborative Piano Conference is generously sponsored by the Vancouver Airport Accent Inn. Group rates are also available for VISI auditors. For more information, call (604) 273-3311.

Update: More travel links are listed below...

Accommodation at the University of British Columbia
Accommodation Off-Campus
Finding the Song Institute
Getting to Vancouver
Tourism Vancouver
If you're looking for a roommate for the duration of VISI or want to find someone to carpool with to UBC campus, try the VISI Facebook group.


  1. 7:30pm Collaborative Piano Party
    A gathering for students and professional collaborative pianists. Stories from the stage – and behind the scenes will be shared in this private event for all participants of the conference. We will generally be discussing what a pain in the ass the singers we work with are.

    :-) Have fun back on that beautiful campus!

  2. I will, Gerrit--thanks!