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April 28, 2019 – Gabriela Montero

Dear friends,

At her Virtuosi Concerts recital, Gabriela Montero will display her visionary interpretations and unique improvisational gifts. She says, “I connect to my audience in a completely unique way – and they connect with me. Because improvisation is such a huge part of who I am, it is the most natural and spontaneous way I can express myself.”

Ms Montero’s innovative perspectives have also been sought outside the sphere of classical music. In May 2015, she was appointed as the first “Honorary Consul” of Amnesty International, in recognition of her sustained efforts to advocate for human rights in Venezuela, both through music and public discourse. That commitment also garnered a nomination for Outstanding Work in the Field of Human Rights by the Human Rights Foundation. She was awarded the 2012 Rockefeller Award for her contributions to the arts and played at Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Inauguration.

Gabriela’s personal vision for her Virtuosi Concerts “Scenes from Childhood” program is quite unique. She writes:

“Reflecting William Blake’s own “Songs of Innocence and Experience”, this program presents a musical collision of innocent childhood with the inevitable impact of later life in the adult world. Schumann and Chick Corea‘s childhood reflections give way to Shostakovich and the impact of war. Before they do, however, I insert my own “Memories from Childhood”, five entirely improvised reflections of life growing up in Caracas, Venezuela:

  •     “Amanecer en Caracas” (Sunrise in Caracas): Caracas is a huge, chaotic urban mess, enveloped by the glorious Avila mountain. It has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. It is now a war zone, effectively. But waking up in Caracas, as I remember it back then, was glorious. The sound of exotic birds, frogs, and the multicoloured skyline surrounding El Avila, is etched in my memory. Chaos within overwhelming beauty.
  •     “The Crazy Parrots”: In Caracas, you can still see giant macaws, parakeets and parrots zooming through the urban concrete maze. The wild birds of my childhood still excite the residents of this suffering, collapsed, urban jungle, coloring the Caracas skyline. Nature is the constant, while mankind can transform the South American experience with one brushstroke of ideology.
  •      “El Borrachito” (The Drunk): We lived in my grandmother’s apartment for a while in an area called “Sebucan”. The apartment faced an asylum, a small bodega (tiny market) and a newspaper stand. I remember a drunk vagrant, a rail-thin man who would march up and down the street playing salsa music on his little beaten up boombox.
  •     “Extrañando mi país”  (Missing Home): When I was 8 years old, my family took me to the U.S. to continue my piano studies. I never recovered from leaving my beloved Venezuela. I always returned, intermittently, but the scars of abandoning everything and everyone I loved, remained with me. It was the most painful sacrifice I made for my music.
  • “La canción de mi madre” (My Mother’s Lullaby): As it is customary with most Venezuelan mothers, my mother would sing to me to put me to sleep. She is not a singer. In fact, I am the only musician in my family. But it is in this way that I first began connecting the sounds to my fingers. At just a few months old, I began to find the sounds on my little toy piano. There is no particular melody I improvise to in this last piece. It is just an emotional recollection of the sweetness of her voice, the innocent purity of that time, and a period of my life long gone.”

Rarely have we experienced a concert with such an intense personal focus.


Young Artist Program – Albert Chen, piano

Born in the United States, pianist Albert Chen has achieved success in provincial, national, and international competitions. In 2014, Albert received the Willard Schultz prize at the 2014 CFMTA National Piano Competition in Halifax and has represented Manitoba at the FCMF National Finals for the past four years. From 2012 to 2016, Albert was selected to participate in the Morningside Music Bridge program, in which his recordings were included in two of their Highlight Collection CD’s. His chamber ensemble performed at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, as part of the 2016 MMB Gala Concert. Albert was a first place winner in the 2015 American Protégé International Piano Competition, in which he performed at Carnegie Hall in NYC.

Last October, Albert went on tour across Manitoba and Saskatchewan as the winner of the 2018 CFMTA Western Young Artist Competition. He has also received first prize at the University of Manitoba’s 2018 Genser Competition and performed Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with the UMSO this February, as the winner of the University of Manitoba concerto competition. Albert was a YAP Audition prize winner in April 2018 and opened Virtuosi Concerts’ Gryphon Trio concert this past November.

Albert was the Aikins Memorial Trophy winner for outstanding performance in a competition of Diploma Level instrumentalists at this year’s Winnipeg Music Festival. He has twice been awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Trophy for most outstanding performance during the Festival, in 2014 and 2019. Albert will be performing with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in June.


YAP Concert Announcement

Virtuosi’s Young Artist Program is happy to announce a special concert event for the 2019-2020 season.

SAVE THE DATE: On Sunday, November 3rd, some of your favourite Young Artists will return to the Eckhardt-Gramatté stage, to be featured in a concert all their own. In a showcase of selections of their choosing, this concert is sure to be spectacular.

This special event is made possible by you, and by the enthusiastic support of all Virtuosi patrons. Our audience ensures that Virtuosi Concerts’ rich tradition of vibrant chamber music continues and is enriched by young, emerging classical musicians.

So thank you all for your generous support and for your engagement with our artistic goals.

See you all at the Gabriela Montero recital, and join us in our exciting 2019-2020 season as well! 

artistic directors fantasy illustration by wayne elliott