We are delighted to announce the commission of a new piano concerto for 2018 Honens Prize Laureate Nicolas Namoradze by Canadian-American composer Kati Agócs.
The new work, in memory of Canadian jazz pianist, mathematician, educator, composer, and Honens family member Bruce McKinnon, is to premiere in 2022 with additional performances across Canada and around the world anticipated during the 2022 / 23 season and beyond.
This commission project is rooted in deep relationships.
Kati met Bruce at the age of 16. The two formed a special friendship which was cut short at age 32 by a rare form of cancer in 2007. Bruce encouraged Kati to perform and to write her own music, which helped to launch her as a musician. Although he did not get to see her come into her own as an orchestral composer, their last conversation impacted Kati greatly. She was writing her quintet Immutable Dreams at the time, and the last movement—Husks—evoked his presence and anticipated his imminent loss.
Several years later, in 2015, Immutable Dreams was performed at the Chelsea Music Festival, for which Nicolas was the pianist. This first collaboration for Kati and Nicolas was the beginning of a warm friendship—they share a Hungarian background, cosmopolitanism, and musical synergy. Nicolas was very moved by the background story of the quintet, and during the preparation for this premiere would reflect on how he’d have loved to have met Bruce, given the many interests and passions they shared.
A few years later after winning the 2018 Honens International Piano Competition, Nicolas serendipitously befriended a couple in Calgary who are supporters of Honens and would turn out to be Bruce’s parents. Just a week before his Carnegie Hall debut, Nicolas received an email from Russell and Vickie McKinnon who had found Immutable Dreams in his repertoire list online, and informed him that Bruce was in fact their son—a testament to how art and music can connect us all in ways we could never expect.
“These unprecedented times have underscored music’s unique ability to connect and sustain us,” comments Kati. “I am honoured to fulfill a commission from Honens to write a piano concerto for the brilliant Nicolas Namoradze in memory of Bruce McKinnon, one of my oldest and most deeply influential friends, lost far too soon. Bringing together so many collaborative threads, this partnership has the potential to tap into the metamorphic power of art to convert loss into renewal.”