News, Blogs, Journal Ramblings, Performances, Announcements
Summer 2022: ScotiaFest, Rest, Moving to Ohio.
July 22, 2022.
After my graduating recital from uOttawa's Performance Dip. program, I was pleased to rest, see friends, and relax after a long year of performing auditions, grant-writing, and composing. I was accepted to the young artist program at ScotiaFest in Halifax, Nova Scotia this year, and was assigned the Khachaturian Clarinet trio as a piece which I would perform at the festival. I really enjoyed learning this piece. In the past few years I've gotten used to learning pieces that challenge me a lot musically and technically; Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux, Stockhausen's Kontakte, Rachmaninoff's Variations op 42, so it was a delight to learn, rehearse and perform a work that was equally musically satisfying to the ear, but not so difficult for the body and mind. I am truly grateful for my time in Halifax. I got to see old friends, meet new ones, rehearse and perform with wonderful young musicians like my Khachaturian partners Jes Broeren, and Jasmine Monkkonen and I even enjoyed stepping in to fill in for a pianist who got sick just before the festival began, learning the first movement of Schubert's Trout Quintet so that the group was still able to perform some of the piece they had prepared. I was very lucky to learn from wonderful pianists like Simon Docking and Andrew Armstrong who inspired me greatly and were extremely encouraging. I highly recommend the festival to other music students. After ScotiaFest, I wrote a commissioned work for Ursa Duo, a cello and piano duo based in Halifax, NS, who was familiar with my writing and wanted a piece that reacted to the events of August 18th, 2021 where the city of Halifax ordered police to raid a homeless encampment of tents. The police brutalized the people there, threw away their only belongings, despite protests. Living in Ottawa, I witness the huge population of homeless people with nowhere to go here and how each year the city passes higher police budgets, and building permits to enormous luxury condo developers. "Quit Your Job!" is for cello, piano and sound track, and uses audio taken from the protests in Halifax. Quit Your Job! honours homeless people and is in contempt of the police state. In this way, those who did not go to the protests will be confronted with the reality of their own city. Watch out for the premiere later this July, follow the link below for the event details! In future news, I'm very excited to be moving down to Bowling Green, Ohio, US. The move is soon, in early August, and I'm so sad to leave my long time partner here in Ottawa yet simultaneously so happy, proud and excited to start a DMA at BGSU with Dr. Solungga Liu, something I didn't believe possible in my youth. Stay tuned for more thoughts, feelings, ramblings and updates, and as always take care of yourself ❤️
DMA Auditions, Auditioning, and Degrees
March 12, 2022
After a long and arduous audition process I accepted an offer from Bowling Green State University into their DMA in Contemporary Music (Performance Stream) program located in the quaint town of Bowling Green, Ohio, just an hour south of Detroit. I remember being in my first year of my undergrad at Memorial University in a lesson with Dr. Szutor and her asking me about what my future goals were. At the time, I was a fresh-faced 17 year old from the western, rural, coast of the island who had just gotten to the "big city" of St. John's, Newfoundland. I told her that I wanted to be a concert pianist, and a university professor. I'm not sure if I understood what those things really meant, but I knew I had to get a DMA if I wanted to teach at any kind of university, since I was not a prodigy, nor was I in line to win any major international competitions at the time. I asked her "Do you think I'll ever be able to get into a DMA program?" and she responded without hesitation, "I definitely think a DMA could be in your future". It was this assurance that was enough for me to keep my head in the game through my BMus. Sure enough, here I am today excitedly planning my move down to Ohio for the start of August.
If I could pass on some wisdom to any musician, or artist for that matter, who is going through auditions it's this: Why do you want this? I know, that isn't that encouraging, or even supportive for that matter. But this became my mantra while preparing throughout the past year. If you can frequently connect to why you want this, you'll remain in a headspace that's more self-compassionate, growth-minded, and goal-oriented. As Dr. Szutor once told me "Piano playing is 90% mental, 10% physical". What she meant by that is the mind can overcome technical difficulties that previously seemed impossible to the body alone, and that the mind is a more important generator of piano technique than we think. It's very easy to get caught in feelings of inadequacy, but these feelings and thoughts are merely illusions produced by our brains and they are very convincing. You need a reason that is more convincing than those thoughts to ground you in your intention. DMA applications and auditions are very long and require a lot of hard work, and so it is VERY easy to get discouraged, give up, feel like you'll never make it, or slip into despair, and freeze into inaction. If we can't shake that despairing off, it will really hinder our ability to give our all in the application and audition. Having to prepare an application, record pre-screening videos early in the year, and spend a lot of money to apply is not easy. Getting through some pre-screenings and not others is not easy. Auditioning live at the places that let you through the pre-screening just to be rejected is very difficult too, these application processes are marathons for the mind. I still struggle with all of these things, especially feelings of powerlessness and despair, but for me the key has been recognizing when these feelings and thoughts are coming up, acknowledging them, and tending to them with compassion. Rest is highly motivating, and if you're burnt out you are more susceptible to these freezing-feelings. I highly recommend any performing artist check out Tara Brach's meditations, teachings and especially her practice of RAIN. I feel that her spiritual practice has made a tremendous difference in my life as a whole but also in my playing.
To wrap up; go for it and don't settle. You might get told "no", maybe many times (I did), but worse is you get a "yes" and you aren't happy about it. Believe me, I got plenty of No's this year to institutions I was interested in and in the past this could've derailed my entire audition preparation but these tools allowed me to just be proud of myself before, during and after the application, audition, and interview, which undoubtedly made a huge improvement on all three.
Check out BGSU's amazing campus, faculty and DMA program in contemporary music and watch out for the funky, bizarre, innovative and gorgeous music I'll be able to prepare in the next 4 years!
Pique Winter Edition 2021
December 4th, 2021
I was delighted to have be invited to perform in Debaser's mega-event "Pique", which took over the Ottawa Art Gallery Arts Court. Amazing performances occurred in several venues all centrally located on one floor of the OAG including a DJ/Club style space, a visual exhibition, a lounge area and a theatre space where I performed my set. I was so happy to perform two original pieces and one composed for me by my friend and colleague Robert Humber. I performed "Confined Fae" written during soundSCAPE festival this past summer for piano and built-from-scratch electronics based on feelings of confinement in the more traditional spaces of classical piano performance and classical composition. Next, I premiered Humber's piece "Murmurations" which featured 5 pre-recorded tracks of me playing the piano with a final sixth part being performed live. The piece also featured a gorgeous synchronized video produced by artist Luke Welsh. Murmurations aims to capture the many forms of immensity that a murmuration (a large flock of starlings) presents. Finally, I was extremely excited to premiere my first cross-disciplinary piece (think somewhere between new music performance, performance art, and electroacoustic composition). "Self-Baptism" takes on my feelings of numbness, rage, grief and shame as a genderfluid, nonbinary person. The work was first inspired by the blood ban on blood donations from gay men and anyone with a penis who has sex with men. The blood ban to me represents a double slap; Don't donate your blood because you're gay; We insist that you are a man. I use deconstructed quotations of catholic prayers in the electronic track (which I was subjected to as a child), and by suspending a bag of blood above me with an IV drip line poked through my ponytail. Throughout the piece I ask "Who is god?" and after going through a sonic-autobiography (the piece's form is based on three states of being; Closeted/Watered down; Transition/Rejection of the normative; Rebirth/Full expression of Identity) I answer the question, god is Us. We define ourselves fluidly, We have fluid choice, We can aim to release ourselves from our demons and from our intergenerational traumas. I insist that We know ourselves better than those who would seek to define/confine us into a narrow existence. The Baptism in the work occurs in the final Rebirth section in which I turn the tap of the IV drip and blood flows out, into my hair and down my face and body and onto my genderfuck white clothes (a white crop top, ripped white jeans, and high heels). Although less blood flowed out in the performance as in prior tests, I was extremely happy with how the technology performed on the night of and the piece was very well received, especially by my fellow performing artists, whose perspectives I was so grateful for. Overall, the event really got me to push outside my performance, composition and creative box and was extremely affirming for me. Most of all, I was taught that there truly is space for me in the arts community and there truly is no greater joy than to be perceived as the true you. Showing up as the real me that night was so refreshing and I can't wait to perform this again somewhere soon!
uOttawa at the NAC 4th Stage
December 2nd, 2021
I was pleasantly surprised when asked by faculty to perform in this uOttawa at the NAC concert, which took place at the National Arts Centre's beautiful 4th stage venue. I was able to perform for around 30 minutes, so I gladly took the opportunity to perform new repertoire; Sergei Rachmaninoff's Variations op.42 (aka the Corelli Variations), and Toru Takemitsu's Rain Tree Sketch and Rain Tree Sketch 2 "In Memoriam Olivier Messiaen". I was the second half of a beautiful concert program, joined by colleague and violist Christoph Chung and collaborative pianist Carson Becke, who performed in the first half with grace, sensitivity and panache.
soundSCAPE Festival 2021 Online Performances
July 19th, 2021
Throughout participation in the 2021 soundSCAPE Festival, I prepared and recorded the premiere of Yizhang Liu's solo piano work "Tempestuous Flow" under Thomas Rosenkranz's guidance. The piece will be streamed tonight at 8pm EST! I also completed the Music Electronics Workshop with Levy Lorenzo, resulting in an improv-based prepared piano electro-mechanical piece I titled "Confined Fae". This piece was recorded on July 17th, 2021 and the score will be available soon for purchase! Head to my Scores section to order yours, and check out the video of my performance! See the 2021 Electronics Workshop concert live happening at 1130am EST.
Expression of Gratitude! Nicole Senécal Emerging Artist Prize Winner
June 28th, 2021
My sincerest, most authentic thank you to Nicole Senécal for her patronage and to uOttawa Music's Scholarship Selection Committee for awarding me the 2021 Nicole Senécal Emerging Artist Prize. This prize could not come at a better time for me, as I begin to prepare for DMA auditions, and plan on setting up my own home music studio (which involves purchasing my first real piano! ❤️🎉). This has alleviated the financial burden of establishing myself as a professional musician and I couldn't be happier. Thank you so much!
Iditarod - SICPP
June 25th, 2021
Watch the 2021 SICPP's ultimate marathon concert, the Iditarod!
For the past week, I received lessons with Steve Drury, Yukiko Takagi, and Corey Hamm, working on and discussing contemporary music.
I'll be performing Stockhausen's Natural Durations now 8 and 9, John Luther Adams' Dark Waves with pianist Zaira Castillo, and Ligeti's Etude no.10 "Der Zauberlehrling".
M.Mus Graduating Recital
April 30th, 2021
Join me for a live-streamed 60 minute recital of solo piano works by Arnold Schoenberg, Olivier Messiaen, Gyorgy Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Missy Mazzoli, Christopher Cerrone, and Franz Liszt this coming Friday at 6pm EST!
This recital is required for my Master's of Music in piano performance from uOttawa, where I studied for the past two years with the wonderful David Jalbert. I am so grateful for his support, guidance and mentorship throughout my degree here, and I want to acknowledge the amazing support I've received from friends and colleagues, my partner Evan Mackey and my family, specifically my parents Joe and Lisa.
I hope you can join me! This recital won't have an audience and knowing that you all will be watching and applauding via YouTube live will make all the difference. It's been a very difficult, lonesome and tiring year and I hope this recital can open your mind and ears, and provide you with a sense of togetherness.
Phase Ensemble Concert Series - Halcyon
April 9th, 2021
Announcing Halcyon, Phase Ensemble's next edition of our ongoing online concert series! Halcyon debuts on Release Party on April 9th, at 7pm EST!
This concert will feature a mix of beautiful new music by co-founders Stephen Eckert and H.P. McGowan, as well as incredible works by Hope Aria, Holly winter, Christopher Cerrone, Carlo Domeniconi, and Agustín Castilla-Ávila.
Thank you for supporting Phase Ensemble, we hope this concert soothes, excites, entertains you, and provides you with a sense of togetherness during this unprecedentedly lonesome time.
Phase Ensemble Concert Series - Zenith
February 19th, 2021
Join us for a show of solo and duo works for piano, cello and guitar performed by members of Phase Ensemble! This concert will last between 60-90 minutes and features works by old time classics like Jean Coulthard, Pierre Boulez, Gyorgy Ligeti, Ahmet Adnan Saygun, as well as works by Simone Iannarelli and newer works by Holly Winter, Naomi Pinno and Phase Co-Founder H.P. McGowan. Despite lockdown restrictions limiting our ability to congregate, Phase wants to provide you all with a mixed evening concert to soothe you, excite you, challenge your ears, and chat to you around the works that we'll be performing. We hope this provides some semblance of comfort, community, shared experience and brings you closer to the moment. The concert tickets are "pay what you want" (minimum donation of 2$). We suggest a ticket of 5-10$ if possible, tickets go directly to the ensemble members to help us earn our living and continue providing you with interesting shows. Concert best enjoyed with others, on a big screen, with relaxed, dim lighting. Performances by Esmée Gilbert, Stephen Eckert, Connor Cornick, and Ben Borg.
Phase Ensemble Concert Series - Visions
November 14th, 2020
Come join us for our second livestream concert! In "Visions", you'll hear new works written by H.P McGowan and Stephen Eckert, as well as pieces by Mark Hannesson, Olivier Messiaen, Amy Brandon, and Jeremy Gill. Join us for a lovely evening of beautiful contemporary music!
Tickets are available at the following link! We suggest an 8$ ticket, but we also have a Pay What You Can option, meaning you can pay as much or as little as you'd like. No matter which you choose, you'll be sent a YouTube live link where you'll be able to watch our concert on saturday!
Phase Ensemble Concert Series - Origins
October 9th, 2020
Don’t miss this live-streamed event, happening October 9th at 8pm. You can purchase tickets to our YouTube live for 5$ on Eventbrite at the link in this event or on our page, please encourage your friends and family to watch! We will also accept tips/donations during the stream.
You can look forward to a lovely, casual evening of new works by H. P. McGowan, Joe Donaghey and Stephen Eckert as well as works by Pallas Loredo, Agustín Catilla-Ávila and Taiwo Adegoke, all performed by our wonderful ensemble members!