Stratford Summer Music – The Grand Piano Series
by Judi "Scoop" McWilliams, Festival Nomad Correspondent
"Danial walks onto the stage for his first performance."
A little background about Daniel Clarke Bouchard ~ pianist, started playing the piano at the age of five years old and gave his first piano recital at six. He received grand prize three consecutive years at the Joy of Music Festival held at McGill University. In 2009, he won the gold medal at the Montreal Classical Music Festival. In 2010, he took gold in the Concerto Competition as part of the Quebec Music Educators’ Association and won first place at the 2011 Canadian Music Competition. In 2012, he made his debut with Montreal's Metropolitan Orchestra, performing the Mendelssohn piano concerto no.1. On May 20, 2012, Daniel performed at Carnegie Hall, as first prize winner of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition in New York. Recently he performed under Maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin with the Metropolitan Orchestra and released his first album, Scenes L’Enfant’s in November, 2013. He currently studies piano at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montreal and is close to his personal mentor and keyboard colleague, Oliver Jones. This is the young Canadian pianist who made such a splash on ELLEN in April – and now he’s making his first appearance at Stratford Summer Music.
We took the time to watch the YouTube video of Daniel and experience an engaging young, humorous, full of life young man. Today we were about to see Daniel in person at the Stratford Summer Music – The Grand Piano Series held at the beautiful St. Andrews Church. We arrived early to locate our seats. We were up in the balcony, where there was a perfect view of the piano’s keyboard. We were welcomed by gracious volunteers who gave us cushions to sit on the hard wooden pews. I was able to ask them what kept them in Stratford and what contributed to their volunteering at Stratford Summer Music. Each of these two volunteers had been volunteering for the past 3 years. One works at the Stratford Hospital and shares the programs and excitement of the Season with her co-workers, encouraging them to come out to the performances. They both said they love to learn and the loved the music. They often get opportunities to chat with the performers at artist’s talks and lectures. Young Daniel stole our hearts as we listened in silence as the sounds rang through the high church ceilings, a magical experience! It wasn’t until later that I asked Artistic Producer, John Miller, about closing your eye while listening to music. I had noticed that most the audience had their eyes shut during the performance. I had been told, many years ago from my mother, that if you shut your eyes when listening to music you can hear the true sound, without external interferences such as trees blowing in the wind, or people moving about. You can experience the true pleasure of just the joyous sound. I was just hoping the Festival Nomad didn’t fall asleep while relaxing to the sound. From my experience, one with no rhythm, it was difficult for me to appreciate just how talented Daniel was, the audience seemed to be more experienced and did understand. Daniel’s fingers were flying over the keyboard, no sheet music in sight, just his memory, love and passion to guide him through the masterpieces. A born prodigy with spirit, spunk, humor, pride and humble all wrapped up in a 14 year old child, young man. It was a treat to be part of this summer afternoon at Stratford Summer Music.