July 15, 2017
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Bringing together two exceptional young Canadian talents

Susanne Martin, The Globe and Mail

Since they don’t live in close proximity and have busy travel schedules, the two young Canadians usually stay in touch via social media the likes of Facebook and YouTube. What brings them together is a shared passion for classical music – and similar career paths that started when they were young – so naturally their idea of meeting up includes a joint performance. This summer, Jan Lisiecki and Stéphane Tétreault have the long-awaited chance to play a concert together at Stratford Summer Music.

“We’ve talked about playing together many times, but the opportunity never arose before,” says 24-yearold Tétreault, a cellist from Montreal. “Jan is an exceptional musician. Working with him is a dream come true.”

Calgarian pianist Lisiecki, who is 22, is similarly enthusiastic about the opportunity. “I’ve always wanted to work with Stéphane,” he says. “We’ll have lots of fun and play some great monumental work by our favourite composers.”

The repertoire includes pieces by César Franck, Robert Schuman and Frédéric Chopin. “I see the interpreter’s ideas as supplementary to the genius of the work,” says Lisiecki. “Performing doesn’t require adding your own emotions and ideas, but rather what you feel in the piece.”

“We are playing incredible romantic sonatas, very beautiful music,” says Tétreault. “For example, Chopin’s Sonata in G-minor for cello and piano has extremely beautiful lines and melodies. It’s a piano sonata, so the piano has the main part, but the cello part is surprisingly difficult. The combination of the two is very beautiful.”

Lisiecki says he strives to perform in a way that carries the beauty and brilliance of the original work. “I see the interpreter’s ideas as supplementary to the genius of the work – the way it was written and conceived by the composer, and how the notes on the page can be brought to life. Performing doesn’t require adding your own emotions and ideas, but rather what you feel in the piece,” he explains. “It’s a matter of interpreting it and not rewriting it – letting the music communicate and bringing it to the audience.”

Tétreault adds, “What’s beautiful about classical music is that everyone brings a unique perspective and interpretation, and I love coming together to discover and explore these things. That’s the beauty of collaboration.”

Lisiecki and Tétreault, who tour extensively, say that while audiences are different from one performance to the next, classical music is something that is appreciated in many corners of the globe. “It’s our responsibility as performers to create an atmosphere that is welcoming for the audience,” says Lisiecki. He finds Canadian audiences generally very receptive and warm, and looks forward to performing in his home country, and especially in Stratford, where he will be returning for the eighth time. “It is always a pleasure to come back and work with [artistic producer] John Miller,” he adds.

Lisiecki and Tétreault will play solo performances on July 27 and 28, and a joint performance on July 29 as part of the Stratford Summer Music program. “These concerts are incredibly intimate affairs that allow us to interact with the audience,” says Tétreault, who adds that he will have an opportunity answer questions and speak about his instrument: a 1707 Stradivarius cello.

With intensive performance schedules and active social media presence, young Canadian musicians like Lisiecki and Tétreault aim to build appreciation for classical music among a large audience, and especially young people. “When you’re exposed to classical music at a young age, your appreciation for it tends to grow,” says Tétreault. “When I travel, I always try to meet young students and spend some time with them.”

Exposing people to classical music can “open their hearts and minds to the beauty of this art form,” says Tétreault. “And we sure need beauty in today’s world. I believe it’s important that art and culture are strong – they can be a beacon a hope for many.”Since they don’t live in close proximity and have busy travel schedules, the two young Canadians usually stay in touch via social media the likes of Facebook and YouTube. What brings them together is a shared passion for classical music – and similar career paths that started when they were young – so naturally their idea of meeting up includes a joint performance. This summer, Jan Lisiecki and Stéphane Tétreault have the long-awaited chance to play a concert together at Stratford Summer Music.

“We’ve talked about playing together many times, but the opportunity never arose before,” says 24-year-old Tétreault, a cellist from Montreal. “Jan is an exceptional musician. Working with him is a dream come true.”

Calgarian pianist Lisiecki, who is 22, is similarly enthusiastic about the opportunity. “I’ve always wanted to work with Stéphane,” he says. “We’ll have lots of fun and play some great monumental work by our favourite composers.”

The repertoire includes pieces by César Franck, Robert Schuman and Frédéric Chopin. “I see the interpreter’s ideas as supplementary to the genius of the work,” says Lisiecki. “Performing doesn’t require adding your own emotions and ideas, but rather what you feel in the piece.”

Tétreault adds, “What’s beautiful about classical music is that everyone brings a unique perspective and interpretation, and I love coming together to discover and explore these things. That’s the beauty of collaboration.”

Lisiecki and Tétreault say they look forward to playing for a Canadian audience in Stratford with solo performances on July 27 and 28, and a joint performance on July 29.

Exposing people to classical music can “open their hearts and minds to the beauty of this art form,” says Tétreault. “And we sure need beauty in today’s world. I believe it’s important that art and culture are strong – they can be a beacon a hope for many.”

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