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Piano recital celebrates past and welcomes future

Local phenom David Fraser has busy summer ahead

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 26, 2014 06:00 am

THE GRADUATE – Pianist David Fraser will deliver a graduation recital that combines Chopin and Ravel on Monday.
THE GRADUATE – Pianist David Fraser will deliver a graduation recital that combines Chopin and Ravel on Monday.
Supplied photo

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David Fraser Senior Piano Recital
Monday, April 28 at 8 p.m.
The King's University College at Knoppers Hall
9125 – 50 St.
Free admission

When St. Albert pianist David Fraser tackles the classical composers, he does more than just play the required notes. He blows the audience away by finding a composition’s heart and soul.

Fraser is graduating from The Kings University College music program this year and is performing a year-end recital at Knoppers Hall on Monday, April 28.

One of St. Albert’s most sought-after young pianists, he has compiled a beautiful and exciting recital that combines Chopin and Ravel.

Fraser dives into the deep end with Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3. This centrepiece is bookended by two of Ravel’s movements from Miroirs.

For the opening, Fraser gently introduces the audience to the program with living Italian composer Giovanni Allevi’s Breath (A Meditation), a modern composition with a zen-like flavour.

In contrast, Chopin’s dynamic sonata, written in the tumultuous later stages of his life, is packed with complex layers and high-voltage chords.

“It’s an incredible work full of energy and passion. Every note is so musical and incredibly driven. Chopin is known for colouring his passages and this is one of his great works,” says Fraser.

He first heard the virtuosic and highly technical composition four years ago and its staying power seduced him.

“It’s completely transporting, so amazing, so inspiring. There are passages that are so sublime and I was captivated by its incredible beauty and energy. I decided I needed to learn it.”

Prior to Chopin, Fraser will play Ravel’s Une barque sur l’océan (A Boat On The Ocean), a short work that mirrors a boat sailing on waves. Sections with arpeggios and sweeping melodies imitate the flow of ocean currents.

“It’s got this incredible manifestation of what a boat on the ocean would do, the surges, the ripples. The texture is sweeping. It’s very fluid and the notes aren’t imprisoned individual notes. It puts you into the ocean.”

Completing the recital is a second Ravel composition, Alborada del gracioso (The Aubade of the Jester). Fraser’s interpretation is of an eccentric jester that has gone off the rails.

“It’s crazy. It’s eccentric,” he says. “It has a very punctuated rhythm and a dance feel. It’s kind of all over the place. The music is full of surprises and it abruptly transports character. It is surprising, quirky, exhilarating and fun to play.”

This recital signals the conclusion of Fraser’s degree program. In looking back at his four years of studies, the St. Albert resident sees a “whirlwind” of activities.

In addition to intensive studies as a well-rounded musician, he has sung with the Alberta Youth Choir for two years and was one of four singers from Alberta to perform with the distinguished National Youth Choir.

During the past four years Fraser has played the piano at many local high profile functions including StArts Fest, Keys for the City, Evening With the Stars, and most recently as an accompanist to Alex Mahé’s album launch.

However, the energetic young pianist refuses to slow down. Immediately after the recital, Fraser is boarding an airplane with the 40-member King’s University College Chamber Choir for a singing tour of Poland, Slovakia and Hungry.

And from July to August, the dedicated pianist is taking a sojourn to Austria. Fraser won a $4,500 Johann Strauss Scholarship from the Wirth Institute for a two-week program at the Mozarteum, a university of music and dramatic arts in Salzburg.

As well, he is parking his luggage in Eisenstadt for another two weeks at the Joseph Haydn Konservatorium.

Upon his return, Fraser has decided he is not quite ready to give up his student days and will return to King’s to explore additional high-level courses.

But for now, the main focus is performing the recital’s high-calibre music using the composers’ valuable insights.

“In the audience there will be lots of people from various parts of my life – my church, family, friends, people who I look up to and people who have nurtured me and encouraged me,” he says.

“It’s nice to give back and share this wonderful music. I don’t see it as an ending. It’s a beginning. It’s a stepping-stone and it opens doors of challenge that I will explore in the next few years to come. It’s a threshold and there’s lots of emotions associated with it.”


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