Honens Piano Competition commissions new piano concerto

26 August 2020
By Ellie Palmer
The new work has been composed by Canadian-American composer Kati Agócs and will be performed by 2018 Honens Prize Laureate Nicolas Namoradze

Honens Piano Competition has commissioned a brand-new piece in memory of Canadian jazz pianist, mathematician, educator, and composer Bruce McKinnon.

The new work will be premiered in 2022 with additional performances across Canada and internationally anticipated for the 2022/23 season.

This concerto commission fits both pianist Namoradze and composer Agócs perfectly (both pictured above). Namoradze shares, “I am a passionate advocate of new music. Having a major concerto written for me by a young composer I have the greatest admiration for is a dream come true.” The piece will be an expressive, virtuosic showcase for Namoradze, twenty minutes in duration.

For Agócs, concertos have become her trademark in the last few years. Her new horn concerto for James Sommerville will premiere in 2020/21 as a consortium commission from five orchestras in the U.S. and Canada. Her recent Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra was featured last summer at the Aspen Music Festival with Jennifer Koh as soloist, and recorded for the Naxos label.

Continuing this thread of writing for great soloists in the concerto genre, a piano concerto with standard orchestration is the natural next step.

Honens President & CEO Neil Edwards comments, “We feel there is no one better than Team Agócs/Namoradze to pay musical tribute to Bruce McKinnon. Through a pan-Canadian partnership, this new piece will represent the Calgary area across Canada and on the world stage.

We believe that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has the potential to bring disparate communities together to honour Bruce and to make music at the highest level.”

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This commission project is rooted in deep relationships. Agócs met McKinnon – whom this piece is dedicated to – at the age of 16 when they represented their respective provinces in the same year at Pearson College (United World Colleges).

Their special friendship formed during that first year, when they each wrote old-fashioned paper letters to each other over Christmas break, and lasted throughout his life, which was cut short at age 32 by cancer in 2007.

Agócs remarks, “These unprecedented times have underscored music’s unique ability to connect and sustain us.  I am honored to fulfill a commission from Honens to write a new piano concerto for the brilliant Nicolas Namoradze in memory of Bruce McKinnon, one of my oldest and most deeply influential friends, lost far too soon. 

Bringing together so many collaborative threads, this partnership has the potential to tap into the metamorphic power of art to convert loss into renewal.”

Watch the full announcement from Honens below.


Main image: © Honens Piano Competition

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