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sm25-6+7_BI_p28_Nicolas Namoradze_sm23-5_BI_pXX 20-07-07 10:18 Page 28

PIANO

NICOLAS NAMORADZE
BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST HERE TO STAY
by CAROL XIONG

B
orn in Georgia but “When I put together a program, my guiding principle is a theme, a
raised in Hun- musical idea, or dramatic narrative. I frequently like to juxtapose old and
gary, the pianist- new, the familiar and unfamiliar. If there is an interesting or thought-pro-
composer Nicolas voking connection between certain pieces of music, then all the better.”
Namoradze The year 2020 will see Namoradze performing “an extra dose of
launched his interna- Beethoven” as an observance of the anniversary year. As well, audiences
tional career in 2018 can look forward to newer additions such as Rachmaninoff, whose music
when he became the he played rarely in the past but is now taking a deeper interest in.
winner of the Honens
International Piano WIDE-RANGING INFLUENCES
Competition. This Cal- Namoradze counts his piano teachers and mentors as his most obvious
gary-based contest of- influences: Emanuel Ax, András Schiff, Elisso Virsaladze and Zoltán
fers one of the biggest Kocsis, among others. Beyond the piano, he also credits his composi-
prize packages in the tion teacher, John Corigliano, “who made [him] look at musical ar-
world, and has been chitecture in an entirely new way.”
picking out top talent Indeed, Namoradze lists his experience as a composer as “one of the
every three years since most important parts of my development as a pianist, revealing to me
1992. Namoradze, at 28, the difficulty of conveying one’s intentions in notation and the impor-
is the latest laureate, and tance of “reading between the lines” as a performer.”
he has already estab- On the flip side, “My composing has also been deeply influenced by my
lished himself as an background as a performer, especially when it comes to my piano music,
PHOTO : NATHAN ELSON artist who is here to stay.
Namoradze’s sched-
ule is packed. This summer includes the release of a debut disc for Hype-
rion, appearances at the Toronto Summer Music festival and the Santa Fe
Chamber Music Festival, among others, as well as a recital tour in Japan.
Prior to Honens, Namoradze made the bold and unconventional de-
cision to step out of the limelight for four years to find his voice as an
artist. For anyone who has ever listened to Namoradze play, the re-
sults of his retreat speak for themselves.
Namoradze recollects: “I was always well aware of the dangers of
starting a career too early. For me, it wasn’t only about making sure I
had built up a large enough repertoire. I also wanted to ensure I had
really found my voice as an interpreter, knowing what pieces I wanted
to perform, and how. This period also allowed me to be more daring, not
only in my repertoire choices but also in simply the activities I pursued,
whether it was my focus on composition, delving into electronic music,
or even investigating a number of non-musical subjects.
“The most difficult part of this whole process was maintaining one’s
belief and confidence without the affirmative feedback one gets from
concerts and competitions. I simply had to believe everything would
work out fine despite the uncertainties and be patient until I felt the
moment was right to step back out.”
Despite his newfound fame, Namoradze continues to maintain a ground-
edness and thoughtfulness that permeate his speech and music-making. PHOTO : NATHAN ELSON
“A free day at home while not on tour will usually consist of four or
which is often inspired by the sheer act of playing this instrument. In addi-
five hours of practice as well as a chunk of time set aside to work on ei-
ther a composition project or my doctoral dissertation, some exercise, tion, the experience of playing a lot of music that is unpianistic or awkwardly
a walk, meditation and a bit of reading or a film if there’s time left conceived for the piano has made me especially sensitive to the mechanics
over,” Namoradze says. “Also, I’ll only eat out if I’m meeting someone. of any instrument I write for. I go to great lengths to ensure that the writing
Otherwise I cook all my meals at home, which I love.” is idiomatic, or at least not unnecessarily uncomfortable to execute.”
Outside of music, Namoradze is a self-described film buff. Films have
MUSICAL APPROACH “greatly deepened my understanding of dramatic narrative,” he quips.
When asked about his philosophy of music, Namoradze responds: “If Additional interests include neurology. “The study of neuroplasticity has
there were one impression I’d want to leave an audience member with, influenced my conceptual, interpretive processes,” he says. Traveling is
it would probably be a sense of discovery – whether it is a reappraisal a benefit of his profession. “I can often directly feel the effect of certain
of a piece through an interpretation or even opening new doors with special experiences in a particular place on my performances there.”
works they might be hearing for the first time.” Namoradze adds: “I used to be a big debater in high school, par-
True to his philosophy, Namoradze’s programming often features ticipating in a number of Model United Nations conferences around
well-known composers. Favourites include Bach and Scriabin – along- the world. People often said I could have had quite a career in politics.
side some rarer masters. I’m very glad I stuck to music!” LSM

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