Friday, August 4, 2017

Luke Welch: Mississauga News: Pianist talks new album and career that took him from Malton to Netherlands

Luke Welch

Canadian pianist Luke Welch writes from his present residence in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, about an article in his hometown paper in Ontario, The Mississauga News:

"...this newspaper article from the Mississauga News is a particular favourite of mine that was written by Chris Clay during my tour in Ontario earlier this year:

With all best wishes,

Luke Welch
May 26, 2017 by Chris Clay
Mississauga native Luke Welch recently released his second album, Crossing Borders, that’s a collection of Domenico Scarlatti keyboard sonatas. 

Welch, who now calls The Netherlands home, answered a series of questions posed by The News about his career, music, and recordings.

What was your first introduction into music and what was it about the piano that appealed so greatly to you?

"My first exposure to music was in elementary school at Dunrankin Drive Public School. The music teacher at the time, Mr. Gibson, introduced all of the attending students to a variety of instruments, choirs, and other musical endeavours which opened my eyes to the world of music. Eventually, it was time to learn the keyboard, and when he noticed my immediate connection with the instrument he quickly allowed me to be the only student to play his acoustic piano. From the moment I first touched the piano, I was fascinated by the sound of the instrument and required dexterity of each hand being able to play different things at the same time. In a way, I wanted to be like my teacher — to be able to unite and inspire people through music, combined with the thrill of playing the piano. Later on, I was able to continue studying piano privately with some wonderful people including Catherine Kuzeljevich, Krzysztof Jedrysik, and John-Paul Bracey — all of whom assisted me significantly in my musical journey."

What took you from your hometown of Malton all the way to The Netherlands? Was it to advance your career?

"The journey from Malton to the Netherlands was a long one, and not necessarily a direct one. Each school I attended took me further away from home — first attending elementary and junior high school (Darcel Sr. Public School) in Malton, then attending Mayfield Secondary School in Caledon, followed by Bachelor and Master of Music studies at the University of Western Ontario in London. While studying at UWO, however, I sustained some piano-related setbacks: repetitive motion strains caused by tension, overplaying, and faulty technique — and by the latter, I do not necessarily mean musical facility in the academic sense, but rather details such as hand position, bench height, and other nuances that were generally overlooked in my musical education. Ultimately, I was forced into a three-year layoff from piano, which at the time seemed potentially career-threatening. I then decided at one point to attempt to resurrect my career; it would hopefully result in a successful comeback, or otherwise [I would] be forced into an alternative occupational path if I could not physically handle the requirements. I figured it would therefore be best to find an environment which offered a completely different approach to piano-playing from what I had been exposed to. Many European countries have long-standing traditions, schools, and methods of musical approach, so in my case it was a matter of targeting the most suitable teacher, institution, and funding to support this significant move overseas. I still did not have the physical capacity to play longer than five minutes a week when I first moved to the Netherlands, but was able to work with great teachers and assistants who always believed in me and gave me the necessary tools to reestablish my piano career. In the end, it has proven to be even better than I could have imagined since it has continued to provide me with incredible opportunities well beyond my original intentions."

Is Crossing Borders your debut album?

"Crossing Borders is technically not my debut album, though it is certainly one of my proudest accomplishments. My first album (The Universal Language) was released two years ago, and incorporated a significantly different approach to the recording process. Crossing Borders is particularly special since it was a completely independent project and [I] was able to arrange the project exactly the way I had conceptualized — including the selection of recording venue, repertoire, instrument, album cover designer, manufacturer all carefully co-ordinated into one final product. Now seemed like the perfect time to make this recording since my playing has continued to develop and evolve, and I had spent a considerable amount of time selecting and preparing the repertoire. Since the first album has been available for a while, my audiences had been asking for a followup recording, so it felt like the right time to take another musical snapshot — which is essentially what a recording really is."

How did you enjoy the experience of recording this album? Do you anticipate releasing more albums in the future?

"I thoroughly enjoyed the recording process. I had the opportunity to work with a very friendly and experienced tonmeister in Germany who was extremely helpful and knowledgeable from the very first moment. The entire album was recorded in one day, which was quite an undertaking, though the other components of the process was intriguing and something I have been continuing to learn from. I definitely plan to record again. I am anticipating to record at least one more disc of Scarlatti's music since I have continued to enjoy the diversity of his output, and there were also a number of tracks I had been prepared to record for this album but was not able to include. Additionally, there is also other repertoire that would make an interesting programme for an album so there are quite a few future recording possibilities to consider. In the end, it is always nice to have something to look back on after spending so much time preparing and performing these pieces, so recording is a nice way to codify all that hard work."

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