Master class plays a ‘key’ role

Home to Canada’s only piano technology program, Western plays host to an all-star cast this weekend for a master class in tickling, tuning and teaching the ivories.

Featured guests at Tune into Western V, a three-day (June 1-3) piano technician seminar, include master piano technician Ulrich Gerhartz, internationally renowned recording artist John Perry and the granddaddy of them all: a nine-foot Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano.

The unique learning experience is possible thanks to the contributions of Western music alumna Elaine Adair (MA’78), who met Gerhartz at the world-famous Steinway & Sons production facility in Hamburg, Germany. Adair, now a Supreme Court Judge in British Columbia, was impressed by Gerhartz’ skill to analyze the personality of each piano and more importantly, harmonized that personality to a specific musician.

“Elaine was the catalyst,” said Anne Fleming-Read, Western’s piano technology program coordinator. “She really wanted performers and teachers to have the rare opportunity to see and hear how the touch and tone of a piano is matched to the artist.”

Gerhartz, who is director of concert and artists services for Steinway & Sons in London, England, has worked with acclaimed pianists like Murray Perahia, Andras Schiff and Alfred Brendel during his successful career.

Perry, an award-winning pianist, competition jury member and Steinway Artist, currently teaches at Colburn School for Performing Arts in Los Angeles, the Thornton School of Music, the University of Southern California, and the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

“Gerhartz and Perry work together to bring the piano to its optimum performance,” explains Fleming-Read. “They discuss what they want in terms of tone and touch and that will be shared with teachers and technicians from across the country this weekend.”

The nine-foot Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano is provided by the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Two of Perry’s students at the Glenn Gould School – Western Don Wright Faculty of Music alumni Hyoseon Sunny Kim and Rudin Lengo – will also both perform on the piano.