Each year, students from Mount Royal Conservatory compete in hundreds of classes at the Calgary Performing Arts Festival (formerly the Kiwanis Festival). By their estimation, 80 to 90 percent receive a combination of first and second place certificates.
Pianist Charlotte Giraudeau is only 6 years old but is already an accomplished pianist, working with teacher Kathy Dornian in the Academy for Gifted Youth at the Conservatory.
“Charlotte competed in 6 classes including one which was her first complete concerto. Most students that age group would enter 1 to 3 classes,” says Kathy Dornian. “She was entered in the 6 years and under classes which are non-competitive (the piano categories are non-competitive up to age 8). She certainly received many accolades from the adjudicators.”
“Most of her repertoire was around Grade 4, which is quite remarkable for age 6. Level aside, what makes her unique is that she is already displaying a high level of musicianship and imagination, and I feel that she shows tremendous promise and potential,” Kathy notes. “The cute-as-a-button factor of course is a lovely bonus at this age and she demonstrates a real ease with and love of performing for an audience.”
Charlotte has a sister, Madeleine, who also is a very talented student of the Academy for Gifted Youth. “Madeleine is 10 years old and playing at a Grade 9-10 level. She gave a stunning performance on March 11 of a very complex and difficult Canadian piece and won both the class and a scholarship. She competed in 5 classes, won 3 and placed second in 2,” says Kathy.
Charlotte and Madeleine are both adopted from different orphanages in China and are completely unrelated biologically, yet both obviously have a very strong natural affinity for music. Their parents moved to Calgary from Edmonton a couple of years ago. Their mother is Chinese, and their father is French.
“Charlotte is a joy to teach and lots of fun!” says Kathy. “It is rare to have an hour lesson for that age level but an hour with Charlotte simply flies by and we could probably easily go for two and she would still maintain focus and concentration.”