Get hooked on modern with Hamm

UBC professor Dr. Corey Hamm - PHOTO SUBMITTED
UBC professor Dr. Corey Hamm
— image credit: PHOTO SUBMITTED

Growing up in Edmonton, Corey Hamm was introduced to a world of music by his piano teacher.

And among the types he learned was contemporary — a genre he wasn’t quite so fond of. His teacher urged him to play Samuel Barber’s Piano Concert Opus 38, a piece that debuted in 1962 in New York City.

“I had a bad response as a 13-year-old boy,” Hamm recalled, “but now I love it. It’s unfathomable why I didn’t like it.”

He credits his teacher for opening up the genre that eventually became Hamm’s specialization.

These days, as an internationally renowned concert pianist, Hamm is taking his turn to lead the contemporary movement with his students at UBC, where he is a professor of piano and chamber music and director of the UBC Contemporary Players. Hamm is also on the piano faculty of the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

Next week, Hamm will talk about his passion for modern classical music at Place des Arts as part of the Maillardville facility’s Salon Speaker Series. The presentation will include a Q&A with the audience.

Besides the Barber composition, Hamm will also describe his love for The Kyrie, a Requiem movement by Aldred Schnittke of Russia, and a piano piece called The First Communion by Olivier Messiaen of France.

Hamm said the public doesn’t get to uncover modern classical music enough and, as a result, the genre is often feared. “We hear lots of pop music and occasionally some classical music in our daily lives,” he said. “About 5% of the classical music we hear, only 5% of that is contemporary classical.”

He added, “In my experience with fellow musicians, the public and students, if somebody is exposed to this music then they don’t have that fear. I think it’s just like anything else: If you get used to something you start to appreciate it. It’s the same thing with visual arts. There are still people today who think that Picasso is crazy and outlandish but it’s 100 years old and most of the world realizes that Picasso was a genius.”

• Tickets for Corey Hamm’s talk on Thursday, Feb. 20 are $5 through Place des Arts (1120 Brunette Ave., Coquitlam) by calling 604-664-1636 or visiting placedesarts.ca.





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