Honens ProAm Piano Competition for Amateurs 2011 Review

This unique piano competition held Saturday, October 15, 2011 in Calgary, Alberta raised over $100,000 for the 2012 Honens International Piano Competition. The 2011 Honens ProAm Pianists. Photo by Boon Ong.

Four amateur pianists went head-to-head on Saturday, October 15, 2011, 7:30 p.m. at Theatre Junction GRAND at this unique music competition. Nearly every seat was full when Daniel Yang, Andrew Hoffmanns, Colin Edie and David Dixon performed their solo recitals.

Amateur Musicians Perform for a Good Cause at Honens ProAm

The Honens ProAm Piano Competition is the brainchild of Calgary-based philanthropist Jenny Belzberg. This unique event is a fundraiser for the Honens International Piano Competition. The first year the ProAm was held was in 2008.

This music competition is open to recreational pianists who play at a high-calibre. In other words, all competitors must have careers outside of music. Each of these amateur musicians performed a 15-minute recital from memory.

In addition to their recital preparations, they strove to raise a minimum of $25,000 each. Prior to the event, they collected pledges from family, friends, employers, colleagues and music aficionados.

The competitors were judged by three music experts: Bob Clark, Charles Foreman and Mélanie Léonard. Clark is a performing arts writer for the Calgary Herald. Foreman, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary, has performed around the world as a solo pianist and chamber musician. Maestra Léonard is currently the resident conductor for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Honens International Piano Competition Searches for the "Complete Artist"

Out of the many prestigious piano competitions throughout the world, the Honens is unparalleled in two areas. First, competitors must perform solo and chamber recital programmes in addition to a movement of a piano concerto. Jurors are tasked with finding the “complete artist”.

Secondly, Honens Laureates participate in an extensive artistic and career development program. This is above and beyond the prize money they receive. Some of the benefits include assistance in booking engagements, recording CD's and developing press kits.

The Honens was the brainchild of the late Esther Honens. She was a Calgary-based philanthropist who endowed $5 million dollars in 1991 to launch an international piano competition in Calgary.

All proceeds from the Honens ProAm goes towards the Seventh Honens International Piano Competition. The next Honens will take place in Calgary from October 17 to 26, 2012.

ProAm Competition 2011 Contenders Deliver Four Exciting Performances

The 2011 ProAm got off to a colourful and romantic start with Daniel “Marathon Man” Yang's performance. Yang, sporting a purple tux, opened with Prelude in b-flat minor, op. 28, no. 4 by Polish composer Fréderic Chopin. He then delivered a sensitive interpretation of Edvard Grieg's Notturno. This was followed by another popular Chopin piece, Nocturne in E-flat Major, op. 9, no. 2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's “Rondo alla Turca” from his Sonata no. 11 in A Major, K. 331 rounded out the programme.

Yang is a Reservoir Specialist for Canadian Natural Resources and the CEO of Borealis Geopower. He holds a Ph.D. In Natural Sciences and studies with Calgary-based piano instructor Ann Davidson.

The second ProAm contender, Andrew “Dutchie” Hoffmanns, hails from the Netherlands. He moved to Calgary last year and works as a financial analyst for Shell Canada Limited. He studies piano with pianist, teacher and clinician Gabriella Jonas of Calgary.

Hoffmans performed two contrasting works which showcased his warm, rich tone. He began with Sergei Rachmaninov's Prelude in c-sharp minor, op. 3, no. 2. He concluded his programme with selections from Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) by Robert Schumann.

Colin “Jock” Edie drew loud cheers when he strode confidently on stage in his light grey-blue tux and matching hat. That confidence rang through throughout his entire recital programme, in which he demonstrated a strong tone, good phrasing and balance.

He first performed “Allegro moderato” from Sonata in E-flat Major, No. 62 Hob. XVI52 by Franz Joseph Haydn. This was followed by La Cathédral engloutie by Claude Debussy. For his final work, Edie performed Chopin's Revolutionary Etude.

Edie works for Encana Corporation as a Petroleum Engineer. He has his Grade 10 certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music and studies with Allen Reiser, a Calgary-based piano teacher, writer, performer, adjudicator and clinician.

The evening drove towards a dramatic climax with David “Big Band” Dixon's performance. This jazz fan performed two challenging works: La Danse de Puck by Impressionist composer Claude Debussy and Frederic Chopin's Scherzo in E Major, op. 54, no. 4.

Dixon, a Reservoir Engineer at Nexen Inc., displayed a strong command of the piano. His technique was solid, while his phrasing and dynamics were well balanced. He elicited a standing ovation from the audience.

David recently earned his ARCT Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music. He studies with pianist, teacher, adjudicator and clinician Linda Kundert-Stoll in Calgary.

Honens ProAm Competition 2011 Declared a Resounding Success

The fundraising goal for this year's Honens ProAm was $100,000, which as exceeded. This year's Top Fundraiser Award went to Daniel Yang, who raised $43,000.

The audience was concurred with the event's jurors. David Dixon was declared the Audience Choice Prize winner and the 2011 Honens ProAm Champion. He won a gift certificate to the seafood restaurant Catch, the entire Honens CD library and a weekend residency at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts.

The 2011 Honens ProAm Competition for Amateurs was held at Theatre Junction GRAND on Saturday, October 15, 2011. With four dynamic performances delivered to nearly a full-house and the fundraising goal surpassed, this original fundraiser for the 2012 Honens International Piano Competition is a resounding success.

Originally published on Suite101.com on October 18, 2011. Updated May 13, 2013. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.