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Wpg Free Press: Paying tribute to an unsung hero

March 15, 2017 — 

As the Winnipeg Free Press reports:

[Winnipeg Music Festival], which continues until Sunday, is presenting its inaugural Helen Black Award tonight during its annual choral excellence concert in honour of the musician’s legacy.

The newly minted award, spearheaded a year ago by Black’s husband, Keith, will be given to an accompanist in the choral component based on the recommendation of colleagues, conductors and festival volunteers….

Local musician Laura Loewen, who along with Judy Kehler Siebert has headed the collaborative piano program at the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music since 2002, trains keyboard artists to be simpatico partners with solo vocalists, instrumentalists and larger choirs.

“The most important requirement for a great collaborative pianist is an ability to listen — and not just to listen, but to play with your whole heart and body while doing so,” Loewen says.

“You also have to be a bit of a mind reader — this incredible connection with the conductor is necessary not just while the choir is singing, but also while the conductor is giving instructions or correcting issues.

“We need to try to figure out where they are going to start rehearsing so that we are also ready to start playing at that exact moment.”


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