Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gr. 9 Piano Performance Exam Day

This is mostly for you mom, since you couldn't be there!
Thank you for being a 'Patron' this year :-)  ♥ ♥ ♥


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Faith also had an Encore:
Amazing Grace - by Virginia Harmony  Arr. by Victor Labenske

Here are Faith's intros to each piece:

Good Afternoon everyone! Thank you so much for coming to my Grade 9 performance exam! I look forward to playing some of my favourite piano pieces for you. The first piece I shall play for you is called Footloose composed by Mary Gardiner. She was a Canadian composer who recently passed away in 2010. She won many awards in piano and has composed music for piano, string orchestra, voice, choir, chamber and vocal ensembles. This piece has a very unique sound to it which always thrills me. You can also hear that the left hand is in a different key than the right hand – maybe that’s why I’m drawn to it J. This piece could be put into the style of Canadian contemporary in the twentieth century. I love how joyful this piece is and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. J

For my next piece, I will be playing Sonata in D Major by Domenico Scarlatti. He lived from 1685 – 1757 and composed 555 keyboard sonatas. The sonatas were organized in two manners by two different people, making them tricky to find sometimes. He was considered the best harpsichordist of his time. This style of music is classified as baroque but it fits better in the rococo style: the link between baroque and classical. An interesting feature of this piece is that no dynamics were written in, which leaves the interpretation up to the performer.  This piece is moderately fast with wide jumps and gap which creates a wonderful dance-like feel, while at the same time making it tricky to play.

For my third piece, I would like to play a Nocturne by Frederic Chopin. It is in C sharp minor, one of the 21 nocturnes Chopin composed for each key signature. His compositions were solely for the keyboard, with very little – if any – music for other instruments. Only living for 39 years, he died in 1849 due to tuberculosis. He was of polish descent and was considered one of the greatest pianists of his era. Composing pieces easily, he found writing it down in a score difficult. Chopin disliked playing in public, because he believed that his music was suited to a more intimate setting. This piece especially reminds me of a romantic candlelight dinner. This nocturne is written in ABA form, but there is a small section that is more like a dance, almost like a bridge back to the last section.  The piano is able to really sing in the ‘bel canto’ style. The character of this piece is quite moody, which is fun to play, and gives the performer the opportunity to draw the audience in.

Haydn, known as the Father of the Symphony, created a beautiful, showy piece in this composition. I will be playing the first movement of Sonata in E minor. Papa Haydn was an Austrian, with a great attitude and sense of humour. He taught Mozart and was patronized by the Prince Esterhazy for almost 30 years. This allowed for freedom to compose and work without worry.  He was known for his interesting forms in his sonatas, and there were 40 – 50 of them.  This one however is in regular Sonata ABA form. The term sonata is first found in the 17th century, when instrumental music had just begun to become increasingly separated from vocal music. This piece has fast 16th notes, and lots of different ranges in sound, which I love.

The next piece I shall play is To the Lute by Heinrich Hofmann. Hofmann was born in 1842, in Berlin. He began his music career as a singer, but when his voice changed, he turned to composing music. His compositions were criticized for not being original and for being too predictable. A 20th-century view of Hofmann is offered by Thomas Langner in the book The New Grove. He notes Hofmann’s “amiable traditionalism,” adding that “the natural simplicity and classical clarity of his style are best seen in his poetic keyboard works and his chamber music.” The style of this piece is romantic, and lyrical. It is known as salon music. The melody is above the rest of the notes as the right and left hands share the 16th notes underneath. It’s a very beautiful, soft piece that is like a lyrical song – I find the melody really draws me in. I hope you enjoy it. J

For my own musical selection I have chosen a Concerto that is to be played on 2 pianos.  My wonderful piano teacher – Miss Olson – will be joining me for this piece. This is a very modern, contemporary piece composed by Kevin Olson. Olson began composing at the young age of 5. Now he teaches piano literature, pedagogy, and accompanying courses at the University of Utah. This piece showcases both pianos parts, with interesting duel tonality and chord progressions. It was commissioned for the 50th Anniversary of the Utah Music Teachers Association. I love how each movement is so different from the others in style and mood. The energy and rhythmic changes make this piece interesting and fun to play! :D

For my final piece, I would like to play Once Upon a Time by Alexina Louie. Louie was born in Vancouver in 1949, in a generation of Canadians of Chinese descent. At the age of seven she began piano studies, and now she’s Canada’s most highly regarded and most often performed composer. Her style is very contemporary, and she makes all her pieces unique. This piece has two very distinct parts to it. The first is quite lyrical and distant, like she is recalling a memory, while the second one sounds like bells. It is a lot like a fairy tale, as the title implies, and I find myself composing happily-ever-after stories while I play.

Thank you for joining me today! It’s been a joy to play for you and even though sometimes getting ready for something this big seems overwhelming and very tiring, I’m so thankful you could all come and enjoy the fruits of my labour! As a farewell treat, I would like to play an encore for you. I’m sure everyone knows the hymn Amazing Grace. This was composed by Virginia Harmony and arranged by Victor Labenske, in the black gospel style. Labenske is known for his beautiful arrangements of many older hymns and pieces. I love the freedom of the rhythm at the beginning and end, and the large chords add drama to it as well as the glissando and fast arpeggios. It is a lively piece and I thought it was a great way to end our time together! One again, thank you for joining me and have a great rest of your day! 


  1. Wish I could have been there! Very nice! Good work/job, Faith!

  2. So kool! I had planned to come, I even had a babysitter for the kidlets, but I ended up with extra kids at the last minute. So sorry! Love the blog!