Seven Series Centre Stage



The excitement is electric.

The sound-check’s done and… we’re about to take centre stage.

In 2015, we completed construction and opened the Award-winning Bella Concert Hall and the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts.  While it still has that ‘new theatre smell’ we’d like to amplify its acoustics by showcasing the finest local, national and international talent to play it.

We would like to announce the debut of SEVEN CONCERT SERIES taking place at the versatile venues in the Mount Royal University Conservatory’s Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts in 2016-17. These concert events will showcase some of the most innovative contemporary artists to bring music to your ears. We want our MRU Insiders to be the first to know what’s up.

Join us on May 13th, 2016 as we announce the line-up.

This will take place at the James Ehnes concert, our final Wyatt Series event for this season.

For tickets, go to or call 403-440-7770.

Our follow us online for up-to-the-moment social media releases. (Follow @MRUConservatory or

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Soundscape Series

The Bella Concert Hall was built on sound.

The Soundscape Series showcases the amplification of these artistic vibrations in their acoustic glory.

* 5 concerts from local, national and international influential artists and ensembles.


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Importing world-class musicians from around the globe. Let’s give them a true Calgarian white-hatted welcome.

* 5 concerts will take audiences on musical adventures in many musical genres.  


Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 2.46.38 PMNorthern Lights Series

2016 is the Year of Music in Calgary.  2017 is Canada’s 150th Birthday.

What better way to celebrate our home and native land than to feature some of its finest artists.

*5 concerts will define our country’s energy, diversity and talent.


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Our celebrated Wyatt Series continues to feature contemporary masters of classical works in performance and mentorship of our music students. This series honours the late Hal and Marnie Wyatt, longtime supporters of the Mount Royal University Conservatory.

* 3 concerts from modern masters.


Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 2.48.22 PMFamily Portrait Series

Music, Speech Arts and Theatre are for all-ages. To ensure that the younger family members, and those who are young at heart, get to experience amazing music and storytelling, we have the Family Portrait Series.

* 2 narrative shows that will inspire imaginations, whether it’s your first or ‘bazillionth’ time at a performance.

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The Spotlight Series showcases our diverse and talented instructors in performance. We’re so proud of our instructors, we want to bring their talents to centre stage. This monthly feature is as varied and exciting as the programs we offer.

Salon Series

Historically, the Salon was a favourite meeting place for musicians of all styles to play, listen and collaborate. We’re bringing it back. Throughout the season, we’ll be offering these opportunities for folks to mix, mingle and enjoy a variety of musical entertainment.

Of course, we’ll still be presenting concert events featuring all of our incredible performance ensembles and programs, including festive favourites Winter Fantasia and Sounds of the Season.

Connect with us on social media for your chance to win tickets to each of the series, or the grand prize, seasons tickets to ALL concert events in our 2016-17 Season!

Like, follow and spread the message to your friends and family.  It’s going to be an inspiring season of sound at the Mount Royal University Conservatory!

– by JLove


Team Player – James Ehnes

CONS_S16_WyattSeries_JamesEhnes_omnivex_v2The New York Times reported that, “superb violinist Christian Tetzlaff pulled out of an important concert at Carnegie Hall.” It was for an arguably more important occasion as he flew home to Germany to welcome a new addition to his family. The remaining trio of Leif Ove Andsnes (piano), Tabea Zimmermann (viola) and Clemens Hagen (cello) were left without a premiere violinist to play Brahms’ three piano quartets on the famed stage.CONS_blog_insiders_button_250x125-rev2

Enter Canadian violinist James Ehnes.

Ehnes, who will be appearing at the Bella Concert Hall as a part of the Wyatt Concert Series on May 13th, 2016 describes his last minute substitution as “quick, crazy and fun.” The Times reviewer Anthony Tommasini thoroughly praised the fill-in’s contribution, “Mr. Ehnes’s velvety sound and sensitivity fit well with the vibrant playing of his colleagues on this night.” There’s no doubt his notable contribution was appreciated by his esteemed collaborators and the audience alike.

Now back home with his family in Florida, Ehnes takes a breath to reflect on the quartet’s shows which included performances at Chapel Hill, North Carolina and at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. He also has a moment to acknowledge his recent Juno win for Classical Album of the Year which was announced here in Calgary. “We work so hard on these albums, it’s nice to be recognized.” A humble comment for an artist who has now won eleven of the coveted prizes.

“The genesis for each (album) is different,” he explains. “Andrew Armstrong and I have pieces we’ve played a lot over the years. When you work with a collaborator, at some point, you get to where you feel like everything is clicking. If you have the opportunity to record at that point… that’s when you want to. We were having our moment,” he continues, siting his accompanist Andrew Armstrong who he has collaborated with since 2001 and will be joining him onstage at the Bella, “There was no P.R. plan. It was just the two of us saying we like these pieces… let’s record them.”

James Ehnes and “The Marsick”

Calgarians will rejoice to see the pair tackle works by Brahms, Handel, Beethoven and Canadian composer Bramwell Tovey, but that’s not the only partnership they’ll witness. Ehnes’ oldest collaborator is The Marsick, the Stradivarius violin crafted in 1715 and named after a Belgian violinist of the late 1800s. “It’s been like a family member,” Ehnes says. He first saw and heard the instrument in 1996 at age 20. He imagines the life of the instrument in context, “It’s incredible to think that you’re only a custodian for a short period,” his respect for the Stradivarius is unwavering, “I’d love to think when it leaves my hands it’s no worse off than when it came in my hands.”

His whole family will be joining him for this leg of his 40th birthday tour. For his children, whom are Canadian but live in the U.S., this drive from Vancouver to Winnipeg with concert stops along the way is a great way for them to experience their homeland. “I wanted them to see all these places across Canada that have been good to me.” Ehnes reflects with both patriotic and paternal pride. “I want them to see the scale.”james-ehnes-4557-5x7

Their family tour will be documented by filmmaker and close friend Nate Bauer who will be shooting footage from the road and backstage. As to what the collected documentary clips are used for, time will tell. Until then, it’s a marvellous family video.

Expect to see the cameras rolling as Ehnes and Armstrong take the stage at the Bella on May 13th, 2016. It will be their debut at this venue and Ehnes is excited. “I’ve been hearing wonderful things about it,” he admits, “lots of people have said it’s a great sounding hall.”

As he prepares to return to Calgary to team up with Armstrong and The Marsick at the Bella, there’s no doubt he’s glad he got to play Carnegie Hall to warm up for it.

-by JLove





World-Class Musicians to Inaugurate New Bella Concert Hall

Director Paul Dornian announces stellar line-ups for Opening Festival and Wyatt Series
Conservatory Director Paul Dornian announces stellar line-ups for Opening Festival and Wyatt Series

Two marquee series, comprising seven events in 2015-16,  will showcase the breathtaking acoustics and intimate ambiance of Calgary’s newest concert venue, the Bella Concert Hall at Mount Royal University.

The announcement was made by Conservatory Director Paul Dornian at a launch party for Conservatory sponsors, supporters and media on May 1.

The Opening Festival for the Bella Concert Hall features four outstanding concerts between September 19 and October 3, 2015.

The 2015-16 Wyatt Concert Series line-up was also revealed. The Wyatt season will feature four concerts by young, edgy superstars. The September 30 concert by superstar pianist Yuja Wang is a crossover event for both series.

Former Academy student Natalie Wiebe
Academy alumna Natalie Wiebe

The launch party featured a presentation by Academy for Gifted Youth alumna Natalie Wiebe, violin. Natalie told of being inspired by the Academy’s abundant performing opportunities and access to international faculty. She welcomes the Bella Concert Hall as an impressive new platform for future musicians, facilitating even greater collaboration possibilities between students and visiting artists.

“Young guest artists help students realize their dreams and build an invaluable rapport with young musicians.” Natalie said.


Karen Drummond of United Active Living
Karen Drummond of United Active Living

Opening Festival sponsor Karen Drummond of United Active Living spoke about the importance of the arts to the health and happiness of the residents of this leading-edge seniors’ facility. The partnership between United Active Living and Mount Royal includes guest lecturers, nursing practicums and music appreciation. The residents will enjoy attending events in the new venue.

“Our residents enjoy regular music programming at Mount Royal,” Karen said.




Passion Palette Trio
Passion Palette Trio

The Passion Palette Trio — Isabella Perron, violin, Mari Coetzee, cello, and Anastasia Kulikova, piano, current students of the Academy for Gifted Youth — gave a stirring performance of Antonin Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor to crown the event.

Opening Festival

“Bella Voce” Opera Gala – Sat., Sept. 19, 8 p.m. 
With the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Robert Mincuk
Presented with Calgary Opera and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
Featuring international stars Sally Dibblee, Andrea Hill and Gordon Gietz

“Luminous Night” Choral Showcase – Sun., Sept. 27, 3 p.m.
A 250+-voice choral extravaganza with massed choirs led by Jean-Louis Bleau

Yuja Wang, piano – Wed., Sept. 30 , 7:30 p.m. 
This stylish and charismatic pianist has been called the most important pianist of her generation. She is an alumna of the Conservatory

Yuja & Friends – Sat., Oct. 3, 8 p.m.
An all-Brahms concert with pianist Yuja Wang and Ning Feng, violin, Teng Li, viola, and Tao Ni, cello

Presenting sponsor: United Active Living Community.

Complete information at

 Wyatt Concert Series

Super Stars – Sat., Jul. 18, 7 p.m.
Noah Bendix-Balgley, one of the world’s great violinists, with guest artists Shanshan Yao, Wei Yu, Teng Li and Franklin Cohen
Co-presented with Morningside Music Bridge

Yuja Wang, – Piano – Wed., Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m.
(also part of the Opening Gala – see description above)

Igudesman & Joo – Sat., Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m. 
Comedy duo from New York make classical music accessible

James Ehnes, Violin – Fri., May 13, 7:30 p.m.
Canadian violinist with a stellar international career

Hal Wyatt with Dean Charles Webber
Hal Wyatt with Dean Charles Webber

The Wyatt Artist in Residence Program and Concert Series honours Hal Wyatt and his late wife, Marnie, who are long-time friends and supporters of the Mount Royal University Conservatory. Dean Webber expressed appreciation for the Wyatts’ long-term support.



Concert tickets for the two series start at $60 and are available through (as of May 12) or 403.440.7770 now.

 by Karen McCarthy
– photos by Mitsue Kudo





Up close with the masters: US pianist Jeremy Denk

jeremy denk, mount royal conservatory concerts, wyatt artists in residence concert series
American pianist Jeremy Denk is the next Wyatt Artist in Residence Jan. 17. Tickets are available at

Imagine having the world’s top classical musicians teaching in your classroom.

For Mount Royal Conservatory’s Academy for Gifted Youth, it’s all part of the program.

American pianist Jeremy Denk is coming to Mount Royal Jan. 17 as part of the Conservatory’s Wyatt Artist in Residence Concert Series.


The unique program offers the public and the Conservatory’s gifted students a chance to be up close with the masters. Artists in residence offer an exceptional opportunity for the Conservatory’s Academy for Gifted Youth students, enriching curriculum through master classes. Academy piano students, ranging in age from 9 to 18, are benefitting from Denk’s mentorship.

Concert-goers have a rare opportunity to experience a world-class performance in the intimate 300-seat Leacock Theatre.

“Jeremy Denk’s performances in New York City have become among the hottest concert tickets to purchase,” says Conservatory Academy Manager Bill van der Sloot. “He is equally loved by classical music lovers and fellow artists as an artist among artists. He can make a profound impression on our young artists.”

Denk is one of North America’s most thought-provoking, multi-faceted, and compelling artists. He has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and London, and regularly gives recitals in New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and throughout the United States. The pianist’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New RepublicThe Guardian, and on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. One of his New Yorker contributions, “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” earned him a book deal from Random House.

Now entering its ninth season, The Wyatt Artist in Residence Concert Series continues attracting the world’s leading classical musicians to teach and perform in Calgary.
The series honours Mount Royal Conservatory Foundation chair emeritus Hal Wyatt and his late wife, Marnie, long-time friends and supporters of the Conservatory.
Wyatt performers are stars in the classical world. Past performers include pianist/composer Anton Kuerti, Grammy award-winning cellist Lynn Harrell, violinist James Ehnes, and Morningside Music Bridge alumna Yuja Wang.

Swedish cellist Frans Helmersson is the season’s final concert April 24, 2015.

Sherri Zickefoose, Dec. 16, 2014

Wyatt Concert Series presents The Assad Brothers


It’s nearly time for Mount Royal Conservatory’s next Wyatt Artist in Residence Concert Series performance.

The Assad Brothers are performing Nov. 9. Tickets are available now.

The Brazilian-born classical, Latin and jazz infused Assad Brothers aren’t just treating their Calgary audience to an unforgettable concert: they’re here to instruct our Academy for Gifted Youth Guitar program as part of the Wyatt Series.

Murray Visscher, Mount Royal Conservatory Academy for Gifted Youth guitar program co-coordinator.

And the students are in for the masterclass of a lifetime, says Murray Visscher, Academy program co-coordinator and ensemble coach.

“I remember first hearing the Assad Brothers while I was in university. They had recently released the album, Latin American Music for Two Guitars, and they were coming to perform in Vancouver. The concert was amazing. They were fast and fluid with effortless ensemble, filling the room with their contagious passion for the works that they played,” said Visccher, who received his Masters Degree at the San Francisco Conservatory and has performed for audiences in major North American cities.

“I went to the concert with a group of guitar student friends and we all went away wanting to play just like that. The Assads have been a huge inspiration to my generation of guitarists and they continue to inspire. I’m thrilled that our Academy students have the opportunity to share the excitement that has motivated so many players to challenge their musical and technical boundaries in an effort to simulate the achievements of Sergio and Odair Assad.”

Sérgio and Odair Assad have set the benchmark for all other guitarists by creating a new standard of guitar innovation, ingenuity and expression.

The Assad Brothers are setting new performance standards and are playing a major role in creating and introducing new music for two guitars.

The Assads have worked with renowned artists Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Fernando Suarez Paz, Paquito D’Rivera, Gidon Kremer and Dawn Upshaw.

Mount Royal Conservatory’s Academy Program for Gifted Youth began in 1980 and is an enrichment program providing musical training of the highest quality for gifted young artists.

The Academy Program offers participants a balanced, performance-based course of study, as well as opportunities to meet and perform with professional musicians and renowned teachers.

Specific training includes sessions with acclaimed musicians in private lessons, small group classes and masterclasses; individual sessions with an accompanist; chamber music coaching; instruction in theory, aural skills and musical discoveries; frequent recitals aimed at developing confidence and stage presence; and participation in a large ensemble for those students who play orchestral instruments.

DID YOU KNOW? The Wyatt Artist in Residence series honours Hal Wyatt and his late wife Marnie, long-time friends and supporters of the Mount Royal University Conservatory.

Sherri Zickefoose, Oct. 22, 2014

Academy students up close with the masters


The Conservatory's Academy for Gifted Youth students enjoyed a masterclass with pianist Gabriela Montero March 30, 2014.
The Conservatory’s Academy for Gifted Youth students enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime masterclass with pianist Gabriela Montero March 30, 2014. The Wyatt Artist in Residence Series performer played to a full theatre April 1.

Classical and improvisational pianist Gabriela Montero did more than delight a capacity crowd at her April 1, 2014 recital at Mount Royal University’s Leacock Theatre.

The Wyatt Artist in Residence performer inspired our Academy for Gifted Youth students through a day of masterclasses March 30.

What’s it like playing for one of the world’s most gifted musicians?

We’ll let our Academy students tell you:

Gabriela and Stephen L 1

Stephen Lind, 24:

Q: What was it like playing for Gabriela Montero?
A: It was a great experience, it was especially interesting as I chose to play the C Major Schumann Fantasy without realizing it was on the program for her recital that evening. She mentioned that it is amongst her top five favourite pieces and obviously had a deep understanding of it, which made for a great lesson.

Q: What was the best advice you took away?
A: I’d have to say her approach of technique and being as efficient and relaxed as possible in every movement at the piano.

Jenny and Gabriela

Jenny Z. has been an Academy student for two years, and is currently an APP student. The talented 16-year-old studies with Krzysztof Jablonski.

Q: What piece did you perform for your masterclass with Gabriela Montero?
A:  Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23 by Frederic Chopin

Q: What was the most important lesson she taught you?
A: She offered a lot of technical advice (since we mainly focused on technique), and the major one is: it is best to limit your movements to only what is necessary to produce the sound, because we essentially play by gravity, and once the key is pressed, any extra movements won’t affect the sound. In addition, the closer your fingers are to the keyboard, the more control you have on producing the sound. Even if you feel you need to move “with the music,” like lifting your wrist before beginning the next phrase, just think of how the music goes inside and don’t let it affect your movements.

Q: What was it like working with such a famous classical musician?
A: It’s a great privilege to learn from a world-class pianist. At first, I felt a bit nervous and curious to see what she would say, but in the end, her confidence and knowledge gives me confidence as well: I know I learned something that would definitely improve my performance skills in general. It is also illuminative, as she would mention something that I never thought of, and sometimes what she teaches also converges with my teacher’s words.

Teresa S and Gabriela

Teresa S., age 12

Q: Which piece did you perform?
A: Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsody no. 8

Q: What was the best advice from Gabriela Montero?
A: Don’t try to play the piano with a lot of extra motion, or with no motion at all. When you play the piano you should play it and be. It’s like walking, when you walk you don’t walk with stiff legs, but you also don’t walk like you don’t have any bones. You just walk. I thought that was very helpful.

Q: What was the experience of playing for a renowned musical star for the day?
A: I thought it was really cool! It was a great experience, I am very lucky to have had it! That is one of the things I really like about the Academy Program at Mount Royal, you get to have some great once-in-a-lifetime experiences that not a lot of people can have, so I feel really lucky to be one of the students working with these wonderful guest artists.

WATCH: Baritone Russell Braun offering his words of wisdom to Academy students:

baritone Russell Braun offering his advice to our Academy students.

NOTEWORTHY: Season subscriptions to the Wyatt Artist in Residence Series Recitals support the Conservatory’s Academy for Gifted Youth program.

Sherri Zickefoose, April 9, 2014

Gabriela Montero: Stunning improvisation in a classical world


Don't miss Gabriela Montero in concert April 1, 2014 at Mount Royal's Leacock Theatre.
Don’t miss Gabriela Montero in concert April 1, 2014 at Mount Royal’s Leacock Theatre.

In a world where classical musicians strive for perfection playing every note written, making it up as you go along is largely left to jazz.

But Gabriela Montero has managed to play both sides, winning over critics and fans alike.

The Venezuelan-born American pianist was a child prodigy, performing concertos with the national orchestra at age nine:

VIDEO: “>Gabriela Montero, 9, plays Haydn D Major piano concerto

While Bach, Beethoven and Mozart were no strangers to improvisation, the classical world has long moved away from it.

But as a classical musician, Montero brings a wealth of knowledge and sheer talent to improvising the work of the masters. And the results are stunning.

VIDEO:  Montero improvises movie score for 1922 silent film Nosferatu in Berlin, January 2014

Montero puts it best: “It’s spontaneous creation. It’s spontaneous music making. And is it perfect? I don’t know. It’s not, I mean it’s something that is just born and dies,” (she told CBS 60 Minutes).

See Gabriela Montero in concert April 1, 2014 at Mount Royal’s Leacock Theatre.

She is teaching master classes for our Academy for Gifted Youth students as part of our Wyatt Artist in Residence program.

And stay tuned for our announcement for the star-studded lineup for the 2014-15 Wyatt season.

 Sherri Zickefoose, March 18, 2014