Ten questions for Eve Egoyan

Eve Egoyan specializes in the performance of new works. Her intense focus, command of the instrument, insightful interpretations and unique programmes welcome audiences into unknown territory, bridging the gap between them and contemporary composers.

“I am passionate about all the pieces I have selected for this recital”, she explains. “Each is written in a unique compositional language that explores the piano in extraordinary ways. I am strengthening ties to composers whose work I have performed in the past and open myself to works by those who are new to me and to my community.“

Eve Egoyan returns to Glenn Gould Studio Friday April 19th to share the sound worlds of five unique composers. This distinctive recital program features Shiraz by the late Claude Vivier, SKRYABIN in itself by Michael Finnissy (Canadian première), and the world première of Ann Southam’s RETURNINGS II.  Egoyan also introduces two European composers to Canadian audiences, as she performs Piani, Latebre by Piers Hellawell (Ireland) and selections from Nocturnes by Taylan Susam (Netherlands).

The event also serves as the launch of “5”, an album comprised of première recordings by the beloved late Canadian composer Ann Southam.

I ask Egoyan ten questions: five about herself and five about her performances & recordings of new repertoire for the piano.

1) Are you more like your father or your mother?

I think I am more like my father. Both my parents are painters. My father’s work has gone through many phases in his life and he has worked in a variety of mediums. He also is inherently musical. Though he never studied an instrument, he has no hesitation picking one up and figuring out a tune.

2) What is the best thing / worst thing about being a pianist?

I love exploring sound through the piano – it is right there, an extremely accessible instrument. The best thing about being a pianist is listening to the piano’s range of colour and feeling enveloped by it.

3) Who do you like to listen to or watch?

I like to listen to a variety of music. I tend to listen to contemporary music mostly live, at concerts. At home, I listen to recordings of jazz and world music as well as sharing standard classical repertoire with my daughter.

4) What ability or skill do you wish you had, that you don’t have?

I wish I could speak many languages fluently. I wish I had an impeccable memory of everything I have read. I wish my work could have some clear political impact, had a voice. I feel that my art form, without words, cannot help change the world.

5) When you’re just relaxing and not working what is your favourite thing to do?

Going for long walks.


Five more about Eve Egoyan’s performances & recordings of new repertoire.

1) What are the challenges you face with unfamiliar repertoire (aka “new music”) on the piano? (and please speak of the pieces)

  • Ann Southam (Canada) RETURNINGS II (2010)
    RETURNINGS II is a piece from my new disc “5”, works by Ann Southam discovered after her death, posthumous works. What fills our ears and draws us in towards the music is in the weave: the magnetic pull of the constant drone of a fifth in the lower voices; the unfolding of a dissonant row in the middle voices; and the colouring of warm harmonic chords on top.
  • Piers Hellawell (Ireland) Piani, Latebre (2010)
    This piece explores layered textures and hiding-places buried within larger phrases of the music.
  • Michael Finnissy (England) SKRYABIN in itself (2000-2008)
    This piece is a personal statement by the composer whose love of Skryabin’s music goes back many years. He says that “on some levels it permeates my ‘harmonic vocabulary’, which is to say that it has deeply coloured the overall sound of all my music”.
  • Taylan Susam (Netherlands) selections from Nocturnes (2009-)
    am interspersing these shorter works amongst the works on the first half of my programme. They are slowly descending linear works from the top to the bottom of the piano, each note heard for itself, focusing the listener to experience the details of register at the piano.
  • Claude Vivier (Canada) Shiraz (1977)
    Shiraz is a piece that explores range at the piano in extraordinarily dense ways within a particularly tightly woven music language.

The obvious challenge is an exciting one for me: hearing a work for the first time and eventually sharing it. I unravel a new work through practice then unveil it in performance. In these performances, a first hearing is an open space, a place without preconception, shared with my audience. I also really enjoy programming in a curatorial manner, mixing up the idea of programming, placing works in contexts where they are revealed in interesting ways. On this particular concert I will be playing the Nocturnes between pieces on the first half which will echo the form of the longest piece on the programme by Michael Finnissy which is in itself  the second half of the concert.

2) What do you love about  the repertoire you’re playing ?

I have met four of the composers on the programme. There is something in this, knowing the voice, eyes, presence of the creator of the music. I spend hours entering their world. Each piece on my programme addresses the piano in a unique way.

3) Do you have a favourite moment in the program?

I look forward to feeling the progress of the programme during the concert. I experience my concerts not only piece by piece but by overall effect. I have a sense of how it will be shared but never know what will be communicated most strongly until the concert happens.

4) How do you feel about the relevancy of music, particularly the music you play, as a modern citizen?

I perform contemporary music because I want to remain close to the creative source, my peers. I also play music by women, as a woman. There were very, very few women composers until recently. It is important for me to be part the possible equality that we have now. I also want to be part of keeping the art of composition alive, as a sophisticated creative medium, as well as keep my instrument, the piano, relevant, modern. I want to keep hearing what my peers find in it, keep exploring its vast sound world.

5) Is there a teacher or an influence you’d care to name that you especially admire?

Many of my teachers were wonderful influences however I never studied interpretation of new music with any of them. As a student, I studied the interpretation of standard concert repertoire. I admire and am inspired by the composers whose work I play.


Eve Egoyan Recital/CD Launch
“5” is available online and in stores as of April 30th.



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1 Response to Ten questions for Eve Egoyan

  1. Pingback: (Q + A) x 300: questions and conversations | barczablog

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