Pianist Stephen Eckert (MMus ’21) is the 2021 recipient of the Nicole Senécal Emerging Artist Prize. Having just completed a Master of Music in Performance at uOttawa, Stephen will continue studies here for another year in the Graduate Diploma in Performance program with David Jalbert and use the time to prepare for the 45th Eckhardt-Gramatté competition in contemporary piano music and for DMA auditions to schools throughout North America and Europe. With the intention of specializing in contemporary piano music—in particular works with live electronic effects—this talented young performer also identifies as a composer, an improviser and an organizer with a keen interest in new art song, contemporary opera, sound art, sound installations, visual art and performance art.
Professor of Musicology and Director of Graduate Studies Christopher Moore shared these words with Mx. Eckert, “The jury was extremely impressed with your performance, the originality of your program, your maturity of vision and your plans for future development.” He went on to say that this award “could not exist without the exceptional philanthropy of Nicole Senécal, and I would like to take this moment to thank her on behalf of the entire School of Music for her ongoing support of our students and for musical life in Ottawa.” The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support to an outstanding music student, who demonstrates exceptional talent as a performer, for future studies and the launch of a successful music career. In the words of the prize-winner, the $10,000 award brings financial security and “the means to successfully launch my musical career without the constraints of debt and financial uncertainty.”
A multi-faceted artist, constantly in search of new trends in music, performance and audience-building, Stephen says, “I aspire to re-engage younger generations of audiences through new music that touches on contemporary themes that are relevant to the present, and in this way inspire an appreciation and love of all classical music through the understanding of historical western art music development.” Over the past year, their greatest longing was for the sense of community and camaraderie that forms through collaborative music creation and performance. “I co-founded a music ensemble named Phase ensemble along with my colleague Hayden McGowan and five ensemble members and since October of 2020 we have performed five distinct concert programs through YouTube Live and Release Party which were very successful. Through these concerts we produced premieres and recordings for ten new works by emerging Canadian composers.”
During these next busy summer months, Stephen will participate in a trio of music programs: the New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice, with contemporary pianist Stephen Drury; the soundSCAPE Festival, with pianist Thomas Rosenkranz; and Orford’s Contemporary Music Workshop, with conductor Véronique Lacroix, and composers Dorothy Chang and Jocelyn Morlock.
Stephen Eckert aspires to settle in Canada, perform new music, lecture and teach at a college or university, and looks forward to the solo performance, chamber music, private teaching, collaborative playing, and composing that will occur along the way. We look forward to being in the audience and applauding all the while.