Q and A with Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy! – curious arts

What do world renowned pianist, Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy, and the U of A have in common? They are both excited about our new Steinway Model D!

Last October, when Dr. Street and Dr. Després traveled to Hamburg, Germany to purchase a new piano for the Department of Music, they were also joined by Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy.

Both Dr. Després and Mr. Schmitt-Leonardy tested each Model D in the Steinway and Sons’ showroom until they discovered the perfect piano for Convocation Hall.

Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy was the featured musician at the U of A’s 2014/2015 Kilburn Memorial Concert and will be returning on May 13th to perform at our inaugural piano concert.

Since Mr. Schmitt-Leonardy helped choose our new piano, we thought we’d get his opinion on what qualities a great piano needs to have.

In your opinion, what made our new Steinway Model D stand out from the other nine you and Dr. Després had to choose from?

“Both Dr. Després and I immediately fell in love with the very personal character of this piano. In my opinion it offered the largest scale of colours. The tone of this piano was the most flexible compared to all the others. This piano has a lot of power but in a fraction of a second it can also deliver the most poetic or fragile sound.”

Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy testing one of the Steinway Model D’s at the Steinway and Sons factory in Hamburg Germany

What qualities does a piano need to be considered a great piano?

“First of all, it needs to fit the hall. I know Convocation Hall from my last recital there and some of the other Steinway D’s we tried were impressive, but would have been too loud and brilliant for the space. They were bombshells but we chose the real treasure with character and beauty. There are many piano brands that have a wonderful but stereotypical sound, which I’m not fond of. A great piano must be capable of reacting to a pianists touch and creating different styles of sound.”

When did you decide to pursue a career in music?

“I never really thought about it. Music was always a part of my life so I never planned a career. It might have been better if I practiced more at a young age. However, I’ve been really lucky with how well everything has worked out.”

What do you enjoy most about being a professional musician?

“Definitely the freedom and independency! I can always decide where I’m going to work and what I’m going to do. I can play a recital, give a masterclass and work with young talents, or create something that never existed before!”

Do you have any advice students wanting to pursue a career as a musician?

“They should find out which field they are best at as well as work together with other musicians. It’s impossible to achieve something if your only focus is on yourself. Organize concerts for your colleagues and perform with your peers. When you put in the effort to work with others, more often than not, they will do the same for you. Lastly, don’t try to become famous, try to become better every day.”

Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy’s performance on May 13th will be accompanied by a small orchestra and conducted by Delta David Gier. He will be playing Gershwin’s timeless piece, Rhapsody in Blue. Other musicians being featured at Celebrating 88 Keys include Dr. Jacques Després (piano), Dr. Patricia Tao (piano), Robert Uchida (violin) and Raphael Hoekman (cello).

We hope you can join us on May 13th at 3 PM in Convocation Hall for this celebratory event!

More information about Celebrating 88 Keys can be found on the showpage. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door the day of the concert (cash only).

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