Canadian pianist Allison Gagnon directs the Collaborative Piano Program at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she has combined collaborative activities in performing and teaching since 1998.
Acclaimed for her performances with both instrumental and vocal colleagues, she has appeared in recital throughout Canada and the United States, and in Europe. Her recital partners have included Tadeu Coelho, Ulrich Eichenauer, Lyne Fortin, Joanna G’Froerer, David Jolley, Ning Kam, Nataliya Khoma, Eric Larsen, Jens Lindemann, Nicholas Mann, James Miller, Marcy Rosen, James Sommerville, Angel Stankov, Marilyn Taylor, and Jasper Wood. Her performances have been recorded for broadcast on both the English and French networks of the CBC in Canada, and for NPR in the United States, as well as on CD.
As competition pianist she has partnered several prize-winners at national competitions: in Canada, these have included the CIBC National Competitive Festival, the CMC International Stepping Stone Competition, and the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition for the Performance of Canadian Music; in the United States, the MTNA National Performance Competitions and the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, as well as both the Young Concert Artists and Concert Artist Guild auditions. As opera pianist she has worked with Opera Banff in Alberta, Canada, and as orchestral pianist with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. She was also pianist for both the choral society and orchestra of the Kingston Symphony Association for nine seasons.
Ms. Gagnon has participated in summer festivals at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Calif., and at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. Since the summer of 1997 she has been on the piano accompanying staff of the Meadowmount School of Music in New York, while continuing to make summer festival appearances in the eastern United States. Before moving to the North Carolina School of the Arts, Ms. Gagnon was an adjunct faculty member in the School of Music at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, for 14 years, and a staff pianist for the Faculty of Music at McGill University in Montreal.
Having started piano at three years of age with lessons from her mother, Ms. Gagnon earned her Performers Associateship diploma (ARCT) from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto at the age of 17. An Alumni National Scholar for four years, she received her bachelor’s degree at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, with highest standing in the Faculty of Arts and Science; upon graduation she was awarded the Marty Memorial Scholarship to pursue studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, Austria, where she earned the Konzertdiplom in solo piano. Subsequently, she was the first to graduate with a master’s degree in Piano Accompaniment from McGill University in Montreal. Her teachers through this time included Margaret McLellan, Pierre Jasmin, Michael Krist, and Dale Bartlett. A recipient of grants from the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council, she completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in 1999 at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where her teacher and mentor was Anne Epperson. Twice she received the Rosa Lobe Award in Collaborative Piano at CIM, and upon graduation she was given the prestigious Gwendolyn Kodolfsky Memorial Award in Collaborative Piano. In May 2001 the Cleveland Institute of Music awarded her the Brooks Smith Award as distinguished alumna of CIM’s Collaborative Piano Department.
Dr. Gagnon is one of a new generation of artist-teachers in the field of collaborative piano. Her initiatives have included the creation of the graduate program in Collaborative Piano at NCSA and the development of the school’s collaborative skills courses for students concentrating in piano. Recently, she has given collaborative skills master classes at the Brevard Center in North Carolina; in Montreal, Canada; and in Oslo, Norway. She is also very involved in the revision of standard piano reductions for instrumental concerto scores. Her new version of the Poème, op. 25, by Ernest Chausson has been accepted for publication by Tempo Publishers in Ann Arbor, Mich., and new versions of the Mozart violin concertos are in preparation. In 1994, she published a handbook for keyboard harmony and score reading entitled “Not Just for Pianists.” Her students have gone on to successful participation in graduate programs in Canada, the United States and Germany, and to festivals at Aspen, the Music Academy of the West and the Brevard Center.
Above all, she has a passionate interest in the development of collaborative skills training for young pianists, and a firm belief in the complementary value of both performing and teaching in her own professional life.