The OCM’s musical tour of the world continues in Austria with the music of genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!
Last week , maestro Boris Brott and assistant conductor Xavier Brossard Ménard in association with the Austrian consul general, welcomed acclaimed Quebecois pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre to the stage at Salle Pierre Péladeau to perform a brilliant rendition of Mozart’s Concerto for piano no 23, K. 488 !
The concert was filmed in front of a small live audience with respect to social distancing measures.
Also on the program was : Divertimento in D major , K. 136 – W. A. Mozart (composed at the age of 15), and Symphony in G major, op. 13 – J. B. Chevalier de Saint-Georges (A brilliant and playful piece in two movements for two solo violins performed by concertmaster MarcDjokic 1st violin solo // Alex Lozowski 2nd violin solo.)
Gen’s Delights had the pleasure of speaking with renowned Quebec pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre: the laureate of the prestigious Virginia Parker Prize 2008, the highest distinction from the Canada Council for the Arts.
What was your inspiration to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
From the age of four, seated in front of the family piano, I already fell in love with this instrument and knew that it would define my path in life. There was no doubt, having my fingers run across the keyboard felt just right!
A year later, I would start giving concerts and winning my first competitions, which motivated me even more to persevere.
I come from a family of musicians and I would always hear classical music at home, even while falling asleep at night tucked in my bed. I am convinced that this childhood, surrounded by music, was a continued source of inspiration for me which also directly contributed to ‘training’ my ears.
Of course, I have to give due credit to my parents, family and teachers who always encouraged and pushed me to practice hard and just go for it!
What makes the music of Mozart unique or special to you and how do you bring your own special touch?
To me, the music of Mozart represents the epitome of musical depth and richness. I would have to add the term « magical » in a way that it cannot be explained, but only felt.
Structurally the composer’s work is relatively «simple», however it harbours a tremendous power that few can explain. With Mozart you may find a ‘touch of madness’ (in a good way!) alongside other intense emotions such as «despair». For instance, in the second movement of his 23rd concerto you will find musical passages that express true love and tenderness… All the emotional elements are there.
Mozart’s music is unique and requires a very special sound quality to deliver a proper performance. How I add my personal touch is something that definitely requires a longer discussion in person…with a good glass of wine!
What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?
Personal inspiration requires a long process that is accomplished way before I step on or off stage. It is an everyday, ongoing process that started from the moment I took my first steps, to when I could throw myself in the heart of wild nature: breathing in fresh mountain air, looking out at the horizon over the ocean, hearing the flow of water and really trying to connect completely with the magic of the world.
Seeing my friends, laughing, crying, doing sports, reading, going to museums, admiring painting, playing board and video games, listening to some of my inspirations like Grigory Sokolov, Glenn Gould, Samson François, Cziffra, Lupu also play a huge role in the creative process. Off stage, I mostly enjoy relaxing and doing regular exercise to stay mentally and physically fit.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
I think that the definition of success greatly varies among individuals. One could be completely happy and satisfied staying at home and raising a family, while another could still feel unsatisfied even after winning a gold medal at the Olympic games.
My life goal is to transmit energy and emotions to my public and whisk them away to another plane of existence. Making a comfortable living while giving concerts, combined with a public that tells me that they were completely moved by my performances, is already an excellent start for what I call personal success!
What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences / listeners especially during a pandemic?
I believe that immersive digital platforms that extend the life of live concerts through live recordings and rebroadcasts such as the «Concert Bleu», platform initiated from my friend and colleague Marc Boucher, will help highlight and spread classical music to a larger audience.
It is equally important to continue filming and selling more livestreamed concerts online to make classical music available to viewers at home.
Gen’s Delights would like to thank Jean-Philippe Sylvestre for his time and would like to encourage readers to visit his website to learn more about his up-coming recitals :