Sunday, July 8, 2012

'The Royal Conservatory Congratulates Stewart Goodyear On His Beethoven Marathon'

In a post earlier today, pianist Stewart Goodyear made a brief reference to a piano performance endurance event:  "Recently, I performed the complete Beethoven sonatas in one day as part of the Luminato Festival in Toronto on June 9th, 2012."

Here is a release on that accomplishment from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario:

June 12, 2012

The Royal Conservatory congratulates Canadian pianist and alumnus, Stewart Goodyear, on his staggering feat of playing all 32 Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven on June 9, 2012. Comprising 103 individual movements and totaling more than 10 hours of music, the event was part of the celebration of The Royal Conservatory’s 125th anniversary. The Conservatory also salutes performance artist Melati Suryodarmo, who created an on-stage performance piece that extended the full length of Stewart Goodyear’s marathon. She and Mr. Goodyear have worked tirelessly to forge this unique, new link between music performance and performance art.

Mr. Goodyear has trained for months for this extraordinary event and has garnered much media attention, including coverage in The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, as well as on CBC TV and OMNI TV, among countless other outlets. A Toronto native, Mr. Goodyear first became fascinated with the sonatas at age five and, as a teenager studying at the Curtis Institute, was instructed by Leon Fleisher to learn one sonata per week until, at school year’s end, he had learned all 32.

The marathon was divided into three separate concerts, giving audiences the opportunity to attend one, two, or all three, with many in the audience choosing to accompany Mr. Goodyear on the entire journey. The standing ovations at intermissions, after each concert, and finally after the entire marathon, went on for minutes at a time, and at the end Mr. Goodyear looked and sounded like he could go on playing another set of the sonatas, had Beethoven written more.

Stewart Goodyear has a long-standing connection with The Royal Conservatory. His talent was recognized early by James Anagnoson, the current Dean of The Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School, who became his teacher and later recommended that he study with piano legend Leon Fleisher. After Mr. Goodyear graduated from The Conservatory, he went on to the prestigious Juilliard School in New York and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He has performed with many of the major orchestras of the world, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, among others.
Classical music critic John Terauds writes on his Musical Toronto blog: “Goodyear articulates every note, carefully shapes every phrase, pushes the dynamics to the boundaries of pianistic good taste and then adds the finishing touch of underlining interesting dialogue and counterpoint inside the music. The result is a depiction of Beethoven’s ideas so vivid that it compels attention. And because each piece benefits from exactly the same aesthetic filter, the stylistic progression of the composer’s work is also thrown into high relief.”

Members of the audience, who have experienced the entire event, were exhilarated: “It was a unique experience, musically, intellectually, and socially ... One of the best ever, not just for the first time being able to musically and intellectually grasp the complete Beethoven 32 sonatas as one body of work in the hands of a superb pianist but socially, it created a wonderful bond between everyone in the audience especially those who were there for the entire marathon. We shared the experience with old friends, made new friends and generally broke bread, drank wine and compared notes on each of the performances throughout the 13.5 hours the entire event ran. A rare and truly wonderful experience, that actually had such a huge impact on me that I was in serious withdrawal mode the next day. It was addictive in short, and as much as it felt like it was most certainly a once in a lifetime experience, I can't wait to experience something of the like again.”

Twitter buzzed with comments such as: “15 Hours of Work + 32 Beethoven Sonatas = Long Day...But It Was Worth It!”

Kelly Peterson said: “I thought about Oscar - knowing what it takes for a pianist to play one solo concert, let alone the equivalent of nearly six in one day! I thought about the greatest athletes, and their focus and concentration. I have never seen or known of anyone who has even attempted what Stewart accomplished so brilliantly, so thrillingly and so perfectly. The standing ovations were more than well-deserved, and I especially was pleased that he received a standing ovation at the intermission of the third part! I am still trying to absorb it all, still revelling in the experience. I shall be for a long time. Thank you to Mervon Mehta for giving Stewart Goodyear the space in which to share his brilliance.”

James Anagnoson also congratulated Mr. Goodyear:  “Hearing Stewart play on Saturday was for me a very moving experience. I often found myself captivated by the emotional breadth and technical prowess of the person performing, and would then remind myself that this was the adult version of the truly extraordinary 10-year-old who not so long ago walked the halls of The Royal Conservatory. It was clear to all of us then that he was a child that played with the wisdom of a 50-year-old, and who was gifted with a mind that seemingly had no limits. I realized on Saturday that hearing Stewart do the unimaginable - play all 32 Sonatas in one day - with the kind of insight and maturity that he brought to each sonata, was the staggering but in some ways the not so surprising accomplishment of that once in a generation talent.”

The complete box set of Mr. Goodyear playing the Beethoven Sonatas is available now in limited quantities at L’Atelier Grigorian in Toronto and will be released by Marquis Classics this fall. Stewart Goodyear will likely reprise his Beethoven Marathon in the near future as interest mounts from presenters in the United States.

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