pianist Talisa Blackman

London Pianist Prepares For Competition

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

London pianist Talisa Blackman is ready to compete amongst 30 other young musicians in the Stepping Stone competition in Toronto.

Billed as “the Olympics of classical music,” Stepping Stone opens this week in Toronto.

“It’s good exposure just to be there is the first thing,” Blackman said Tuesday of her reasons for taking part. “On some level it is kind of fun. It pushes you and I have to learn a lot of repertoire. It’s just something new to do . . . and it’s a way to perform a little bit in Toronto even if it’s just through this competition.”

She is to play Friday during the opening round. Stepping Stone’s judges include educators, industry leaders and top soloists.

The Toronto-raised pianist has performed with top orchestras in North America and Russia. She came to London about three years ago for studies with Wright faculty Prof. John Hess.

“John was amazing and so was the collaborative program at Western,” she said. “It didn’t have a direct bearing on this competition, but it’s definitely changed the way I play music . . . you have to listen in a different way when you’re playing with somebody else.”

Blackman, 27, began piano studies at the age of four with her mother. She continued her studies with teachers at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, Marina Geringas and Marietta Orlov, and with Joela Jones and Margarita Shevchenko at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Among her most unusual gigs has been a place along with five other Wright-tied piano stars in a six-piano lineup. The “super six” recently teamed for their second concert to present music from the movies. Among the film scores visited in the transcriptions for six pianos were those from Forrest Gump, West Side Story and Star Wars.

The piano project started two years ago as pianists at the school looked for a way to make music together after collaborating with singers and instrumentalists during the year.

“It’s a lot of notes and a lot of noise and hopefully a good time. We had a great time . . . it was really fun,” Blackman said.


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