They share the same name, call Montréal home, have won medals, and are known to be some of the fastest players in their respective fields. But that’s where the similarities between Olympic short track speed skater Charles Hamelin and award winning classical pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin end.
While one glides on the ice, the other glides his fingers across the keyboard.
North Okanagan audiences will be able to see one of them, when Richard–Hamelin performs at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre March 15. Presented by the North Okanagan Community Concert Association, Richard-Hamelin will certainly give the NOCCA’s Hamburg Steinway concert grand a workout performing Schumann’s Arabesque Op. 18 and Fantasie Op. 17 as well as Chopin’s Four Ballades.
One of the most important pianists of his generation, Richard-Hamelin is known for his masterful Chopin performances. In January, he played the E minor Chopin Concerto with the Warsaw Philharmonic and conductor Jacek Kaspszyk in Japan. He also became the silver medalist and laureate of the Krystian Zimerman award of the best sonata at the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2015.
That same year, Hamelin was awarded with the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto (WMCT) Career Development Award (CDA), which is presented every three years to an exceptional young Canadian musician (or small ensemble) embarking on a professional performing career. The award includes a $20,000 cash prize as well as the opportunity to give a recital in the Music in the Afternoon concert series.
In a press release from the 2015 WMCT CDA Competition, jury members Midori Koga, Kerry Stratton, Wiwona Zelenka remarked on Richard-Hamelin’s masterful performance:
“His structural and musical understanding of the large-scale Chopin sonata was exceptional,” and as one juror remarked “perhaps one of the finest performances of this work I have ever heard on any professional stage.”
Originally from Lanaudière, Québec, Richard-Hamelin is a graduate from McGill University, the Yale School of Music, the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal and now works on a regular basis with pianist Jean Saulnier.
His first solo recording, which features late works by Chopin, was released in September 2015 on the Analekta label and received widespread acclaim from critics throughout the world as well as a Felix Award. A second album, recorded live at the Palais Montcalm in Quebec City, featuring music by Beethoven, Enescu and Chopin, was released in the fall of 2016 and also received positive reviews.
A recipient of the Order of Arts and Letters of Quebec, Richard-Hamelin has appeared in various prestigious festivals, including La Roque d’Anthéron in France, the Prague Spring Festival, the “Chopin and his Europe” Festival in Warsaw and the Lanaudière Festival in Canada.
As a soloist, he has performed with various ensembles, including the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic, Quebec Symphony Orchestra, OFUNAM (Mexico City), Orchestre Métropolitain, National Arts Center Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Violons du Roy, I Musici de Montréal, Sinfonia Varsovia and the Poznań Philharmonic.
Richard-Hamelin is currently recording the first volume of the complete Beethoven violin sonatas with Montréal Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Andrew Wan and will perform in Canada, Asia, Europe and the U.S.
His March 15 performance in Vernon starts at 7:30 p.m. Single tickets are $40 for adults and $20 for youth, available at the Ticket Seller box office. Call 250-549-7469 or order online at www.ticketseller.ca. For more information, visit www.nocca.ca.