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History

Founded in 1994 by pianist Janina Fialkowska, Piano Six and Piano Plus created live classical music events with Canada’s finest musical talent, in underserviced parts of the country that would otherwise never have experienced such ‘magic’.

 

Over a period of 16 years (1994-2010), Piano Six and Piano Plus reached over 100,000 people directly – and tens of thousands indirectly – through over 430 events across Canada. At each destination, the musicians collaborated with local presenters, schools and volunteers to provide multiple experiences directly with audiences, such as concerts, workshops, master classes and countless ‘Q&A’ sessions. Outside of those who directly experienced the events, tens of thousands more recognized the organization’s name and what it stood for.

In addition to pianist Janina Fialkowska, the other original members of the ensemble were Angela Cheng, Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, André Laplante, and Jon Kimura Parker. The not-for-profit Piano Six Foundation was directed by Mary Ingraham; the McConnell Family Foundation initially provided funding.

 

The program was launched in February 1995 with concerts in Toronto (broadcast on CBC) and Quebec City. Although the program concentrated on individual rather than ensemble visits, the pianists occasionally appeared together, such as at the Festival international de Lanaudièrein 1999, and the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival in 2000 (both times with replacement Bernadene Blaha).

 

Piano Six won the National Music Award from the Jean A. Chalmers Foundation in 2000. The plaudits and praise showered on the group by audience members and teachers in the host communities made it clear that their performances were deeply appreciated.

 

In 2017, pianist Daniel Wnukowski resurrected the original Piano Six model and relaunched it as Piano Six – Next Generation, and was joined by Marika Bournaki, David Jalbert, Angela Park, Ian Parker, and Anastasia Rizikov.

Timeline

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The discovery of Arthur Rubinstein's silver tray in Paris, in which were engraved the names of all towns where he had performed. This tray served as the inspiration for Janina's unique model for the project.

A free recital was offered in Kincardine, ON to try out a new concert program in a local series, which suffered from a lack of funds. It inspired the first formal outline of the Piano Six project. Jane Colwell agrees to run the project and the famous five letters are sent out to Janina's colleagues.

First Piano Six tour by Jackie Parker in the Maritime provinces.

Janina’s first tour in Manitoba followed by a special meeting with Micheline Lesage from the Canada Council for the Arts. Mary Ingraham is recruited who single-handedly opens up B.C. Judith Rice-Lesage also comes on board, who expands the initiative to Acadia and Quebec communities.

In addition to regular touring, five gala concerts take place where the six appear together on stage. These inclue the Galas/National PR • Glenn Gould studio in Toronto • Grand Theatre in Quebec (with the proceeds of this concert directed towards the purchase of a new Hamburg Steinway) • Winnipeg Symphony • Festival Lanaudiere • NAC (Piano Six/Julian Armour collaboration)

Piano Six is incorporated as a not-for-profit charity.

Piano Six is awarded the Jean A. Chalmers National Music Award honouring the talent and achievements of Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to the arts.

Piano Six is expanded to include other instrumental artists. Piano Plus is born with strategic planning, new branding, Trillium and Heritage funding.

Official media launch of Piano Plus with the first tour featuring Janina in the Maritimes. Piano Plus is awarded its first major corporate sponsorship with TD Canada Trust.

First tour featuring TWO musicians performing simultaneuously - one includes a string player. The project model changes to officially include duos and ensembles. The roster of artists is expanded beyond the initial keyboard focus of Piano Six to include some of Canada’s finest vocalists and instrumentalists, including Jens Lindemann, Shauna Rolston, Russell Braun and Scott St. John.

Significant expansion of the Piano Plus board.

By February 28, 2010, Piano Plus artists will have made 433 visits to 201 Canadian towns and villages. These include almost 900 activities, including recitals, school workshops, masterclasses, joint fundraising concerts, speeches, Q&A sessions, and individual teaching sessions.

The original model of Piano Six is resurrected by Daniel Wnukowski using many technological advances including web 2.0, social media and video streaming. The model is shifted to focus on the next generation of Canadians, especially post-millenials. Five colleagues join the board having only met via Skype and Facetime.

Piano Six - Next Generation is awarded a substantial grant by the Canada Council for the Arts, together with donations and donations-in-kind from private organizations. Skillful use of technology has helped mitigate the expenses required for a pre-tour, including phone calls to local coordinators, live video streaming of events and introductory YouTube videos of each pianist.