Accompanying singers teaches pianist to let the music breath

Kinza Tyrrell performs The Grieg Concerto with the OSO, May 6, 7 and 8 in the Okanagan. - Contributed
Kinza Tyrrell performs The Grieg Concerto with the OSO, May 6, 7 and 8 in the Okanagan.
— image credit: Contributed

Next week, when the symphony’s accompaniment stops and Kinza Tyrrell’s magic fingers start their solo the dynamics should test the range of one’s heart, ears and very understanding of music.

An accomplished pianist who serves as principle repetiteur and music director of Vancouver Opera in Schools, Tyrrell will offer the icing on the cake for the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra’s  Masterworks Series V—Spirit of the North.

Playing The Grieg Concerto, a popular piece with a myriad of pop culture ties from Twin Peaks to Otis and Milo and even a Nike ad, the piece is already palatable to a very wide audience. The musician said her interpretation is one that aims to please.

“I try to really bring a big range of dynamics from the really soft and sensitive to the really loud rumbly stuff,” she said, noting every time the music opens up and it’s her time to shine she winds up finding something new and different in the music.

A concerto has three movements, a fast-paced intro followed by a slower, beautiful second section, which leads into an even faster up-beat ending.

Spending her days with opera singers, frequently stepping in to sing their parts in rehearsal for those who might need to save their instrument, Tyrrell said she’s learned to play her pieces on piano as though this was her day job.

“I had a teacher way back and he always said to me: Play this phrase like you’re a singer,” she explained, admitting it took time to understand what that meant, how the flow and breath and depth of the instrument draws from that human touch.

“I must not allow my hands or arms to breath when they want, they must breath where a singer would breath, so you get this sense of legato, this lengthening,” she said.

“Otherwise, we play each note and bang each note and we don’t get the sense of a horizon. We just play very vertically.”

It’s one piece of a lifetime’s worth of advice that has made her the accomplished star she is today.

A Victoria native, Tyrrell made her orchestral debut at age 12 with the Victoria Symphony.

She has studied with Hans Graf at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and J.S. Benda at the Graz Musikhochschule.

Over the years, she has also studied with world-renowned pianists Jon Kimura Parker, Anton Kuerti and Gyorgy Sebok.

She won the 2003 Bösendorfer Prize from the Opera Coaching division of the International Belvedere Opera Competition in Vienna and holds a doctorate of piano and vocal coaching from McGill University.

The OSO’s Spirit of the North includes I Send Only Angels, from Canadian composer Marcus Goddard and Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5. All three composers are from northern countries, Goddard from Canada, Sibelius from Finland and Grieg from Norway.

The concerts run Friday, May 6 at the Kelowna Community Theatre, May 7 at the Penticton Trade & Convention Centre and May 8 at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre. Call Ticketmaster at 250-979-7031 or go online to Ticketmaster.ca.




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