Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Piano Phenom Jan Lisiecki Soaks Up First Juno Awards Nomination

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Piano Phenom Jan Lisiecki Soaks Up First Juno Awards Nomination

Article excerpt

Canadian phenom Lisiecki soaks up Juno nod


It's immediately obvious upon meeting piano phenom Jan Lisiecki -- with his ramrod posture, pinpoint diction and sage maturity -- that he is not a typical teenager.

His lifestyle, certainly, is vastly different. For instance, when the 18-year-old received word of his Juno Award nomination for classical album of the year, he was navigating the powdery peaks of Aspen, Colo., with his dad. A couple days prior, he had been performing at an exclusive black-tie gala in Palm Springs, Fla. Less than a week earlier, it was a sold-out engagement at Tokyo's 2,000-seat Suntory Hall with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

When the Junos are contested Sunday in Regina, Lisiecki will regrettably not be in attendance -- he's due for a week-long whisk through Germany.

He plays more than 100 concerts annually. Last year, he estimates that he flew over 3,000 miles -- "a tremendous amount by any standard," he says with typically precocious precision.

No, the Calgary native definitely isn't living the usual life of a North American teenager. And he doesn't mind one bit.

"I don't think I'm missing out on much really from the typical teenage experience -- and after all, what is typical?" he said in a recent interview in Toronto.

"I think everybody has their own way and their own needs and their own likes. And mine, personally, are doing what I do. Travelling: I love it. Performing: I love it. And I have great friends, all around the world.

"I don't need to hang around in a mall."

Lisiecki, clearly, savours the life of a touring classical musician -- and the elements that led there, he says, came naturally.

Lisiecki began playing piano at five and made his orchestral debut at nine. The intense practising required never seemed a burden, he says, and he waves off a question about how he established the necessary discipline at such a young age.

"The discipline is just a part of doing it," he said. "It's very easy for me to continue because there is this fantastic reward at the end of the journey."

He'll release "Chopin Etudes" this Tuesday, fortuitous timing given his Juno nod -- which he calls a "very special" honour -- and the new recording showcases his emerging artistic identity. The album will be issued on Deutsche Grammophon, marking the historic label's first recording of the Chopin etudes since Maurzio Pollini released his renowned take in 1972.

Asked about following Pollini's performance, Lisiecki -- who's in his second year of a bachelor of music degree at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto -- offers a paraphrased quote from Glenn Gould: "If you have nothing new to say, then don't say it. Don't record it."

"I truly believe in that quote," he continues. "While my etudes aren't radical or earth-shattering, I think they bring lots of music -- something which sometimes lacks from the etudes because people really get involved in the technical qualities. …

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