Monday, May 2, 2011

Haitian-American Pianist Suki Guerrier & Friends in 'Salon Klassick' 3:30 pm June 19, LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College, NYC

[Suki Guerrier]

The Haitian-American pianist Suki Guerrier first appeared in AfriClassical on July 5, 2008 at the suggestion of Rashida Black: “Suki Guerrier: 'Dreams of Haiti, a review' from the Myrtle Hart Society.” Early this year, we began wondering how Suki was doing, and we invited her to contact us. Last week, Suki called us and agreed to an interview by phone. It took place on April 27, 2011:

Hello, this is Bill Zick; is this Suki?
Hi, how are you?
It's nice to talk to you! It was a pleasant surprise to receive your call!
Yes...Thank you for the interview.
I first learned of your work from Rashida Black of The Myrtle Hart Society. How did you come in contact with her?
Rashida and I have been friends since boarding school. We've known each other for approximately 15 years now.
The article that was referred to us by Rashida Black indicated that you are Haitian-American; is that accurate?
I'm first generation Haitian-American. My parents were both born in Haiti, and I was born in New York.
The article in 2008 indicated that you were 28?
That is correct.
Where in the States were you born?
I was born in Queens, New York.
According to the article, you were giving a performance at SUNY Purchase. Did you attend there?
Yes, I was at SUNY Purchase of Purchase, New York for my Bachelor and Master's degree.
What was the field in which you received your Bachelor's and Master's?
Piano Performance.
When did you receive your Master's degree?
I received it in May of 2009.
So the article we received was written before your Master's?
Yes, I'm not sure which article you're referring to. I've given quite a few recitals at Purchase, and have introduced the Haitian music at most of these recitals.
It was written by Martina Green...
Okay, yes. Now I know which one you are referring to. Martina interviewed me during a recital in 2008. I also knew her from boarding school.
Can I ask what the boarding school was?
Walnut Hills, in Natick, Massachusetts.
What has your career been like since 2009?
I am a traveling teacher. I have a school of approximately 35 students between the Westchester and Connecticut areas. I'm quite blessed in that it allows me the opportunity to practice for performances. I've done quite a few performances in the past couple of years. Speaking of performances! I am having a performance on June 19th, at Queens College.
Is that a solo recital?
Well technically, no. This is the onset of a series called "Salon Klassick." The idea is to provide all artists, not just musicians, a venue to perform or exhibit their work. We have a beautiful space at my mother's home, well equipped with the most amazing piano! I've had the opportunity to speak with many artists who have collectively expressed the need for such an establishment.
Would you like to tell us about the June 19th performance?
Sure! On June 19th I'll be performing at the LeFrak Concert Hall in Queens College. It's going to be an array of performances with Carl Baron on cello, Colleen Beaumont, a soprano, and Mina Kim, pianist.
Is that a quartet then?
It is not a quartet. I will be accompanying Colleen, and performing a Brahms sonata with Carl, and a concerto with Mina. The program will most likely end with a sonata by Carmen Brouard.
Is that Madame Brouard?
I saw an article in French which said that you and Josette Montas were “two talented admirers of the work of Madame Brouard.”
Yes, that's us! Last year. Josette Montas and I did a concert together in Canada. I believe it was in July of 2010. This concert was in concurrence with the book signing of the biography of Carmen Brouard. [Editor's Note: La mémoire de Carmen Brouard ensorcelle Montréal by Françoise Forest and Gérard D. Montés, Haiti Observateur (2010)]
What else would you like to tell us?
Well, at the moment I'm also working on a lot of the Lamothe pieces. My goal is to record them this year, as many as possible, to get them a bit more exposed. I might have the opportunity to go to Haiti in June or the beginning of July to perform some of the Brouard and Lamothe pieces. It is not yet set in stone, but it is a great possibility.
Have you made any recordings yet?
Not professionally. I do have quite a few recordings, but as I mentioned, my goal is to do a professional recording this year.
Do you intend for it to be solo, or with others?
It's going to be solo. It's strictly Haitian composers.
Well, that's an area where there's been a great need for recordings.
Exactly! I've wanted to do it for many years, but between school and work, it's been very difficult. Now I've been allowed the opportunity and the time to do it. I am hoping to get it out by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2012 for sure.
Do you have a record label in mind?
No, most likely I'll go independent.
Okay, that seems to be what a lot of people are doing.
Yes! I agree!
What else would you like our readers to know about your career, or the music that you are interested in?
I would like people to go to for information regarding the upcoming concert, as well as the season of concerts starting in September!
Are you in contact with any of the other people doing recordings, like Joshua Russell? His CD is called Valses to Voodoo: Piano Music of Haitian Composer Ludovic Lamothe.
I think I actually have that CD! Unfortunately, it's been so long since I've listened to it, I cannot comment much more on it.
Are there other people who have done recordings that you would like to recommend?
I believe Rudy Perrault has done a few recordings. I met him last year at a performance he did with Josette Montas. It was a fundraiser for Friends of Montfort.
What is “Friends of Montfort”?
It's a school in Haiti that is dedicated to children who are deaf or blind, or deaf AND blind. The organization is based here in New York. For the past few years, Josette Montas has done a fundraising concert for this organization. This past year, Rudy Perrault graced us with his playing as well.
Are there other things that you would like to tell us today?
June 19th! LeFrak Hall at Queens College. It WILL be a great program! People can go to for any questions they may have.
I do appreciate the fact that you got in touch with me.
Sure! The pleasure is all mine! Thank you for the opportunity.
I don't have contact with many Haitian performers. The only Haitian composer that I am in touch with at the moment is Julio Racine, in Louisville.
Yes, well I appreciate your efforts in helping expose this music.
Some of his works have been performed for Haitian relief efforts as well.
Well I want to thank you very much!
Thank you so much, Bill!
Goodbye now.

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