Monday, August 13, 2012

Stewart Goodyear brings Beethoven marathon to Luminato (video)

Stewart Goodyear brings Beethoven marathon to Luminato (video)

4 June 2012 No Comments

By Anya Wassenberg
Stewart Goodyear and the Beethoven Marathon
June 9, 2012 at Koerner Hall
Part of the Luminato Festival
Thirty-two sonatas, 103 movements and more than 10 hours of playing — “marathon” is an appropriate word for the feat taken on by Toronto-born pianist Stewart Goodyear for this year’s Luminato Festival. In a single day, he’ll play all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas in the order that they were written.  “This set is a retrospective of Beethoven’s art from the early 1790s to 1821,” he explains.

It’s an undertaking few have attempted before in history, but to hear him talk about it, it’s the natural result of a passion for Beethoven that took hold very early in life.  His father passed away a month before he was born, leaving behind a legacy of music in the form of a collection of LP records, including modern classics like Jimi Hendrix and two boxes of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky that Goodyear would listen to over and over. While his repertoire as a professional has been varied, that early love of Beethoven runs deep. “I always thought of the sonatas as a set,” he explains. “I’m fulfilling a childhood ambition.”

Growing up in Toronto in the 1980s, Goodyear’s focus on classical music came as something of an oddity. “In my neighbourhood, people were listening to Culture Club, Sting,” he remembers. “I thought I was the only one listening to this music, or who even knew about it. That changed deliciously when I went to my first classical concert.” As he watched famed pianist André Watts, he knew that he wanted to be up there on stage performing — a revelation that came to him at the age of four. He credits his family for encouraging those childhood passions. “They knew I loved it and supported me every step of the way.”

More than a typical performance, a marathon concert requires extraordinary preparation. “Besides preparing pianistically, I’m preparing stamina wise,” he says. Diet and exercise are crucial to his physical conditioning. When it comes to the playing, his regimen also goes beyond the usual exercises and repetition. “I’m zoning out so that my fingers know exactly what they’re doing, so that the playing is organic,” he says. The music has to take over. “It really does possess me. I feel like I turn into a different beast.”

Goodyear is looking forward to the challenge and eager for the audience’s energy.  “The excitement of the audience will dictate my response,” he says. It’s also an experience he’s hoping to repeat. “I hope to do this marathon everywhere.”

Stewart Goodyear has recorded some of the Beethoven Sonatas on the Marquis Classics label (and those CDs will be available for sale at the event).

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