Stay Tuned!

Sign up to get free in-depth coverage on up and coming artist and more!


Do you remember your very first musical memory?

When I was a boy my father would sing me to sleep every night. And when he went away on business trips, my mother sang to me at night instead.

Now, my mother, whom I love dearly (98 and going strong!) has many wonderful traits and abilities, including playing the piano. But singing perfectly in key isn’t one of them, and when she sang to me I cried instead of drifting off to sleep. We often laugh about it now, and thankfully, it convinced her I should take music lessons so there was a happy result.

And that beautiful memory of my father’s singing voice will always be with me.

When I moved back to Vancouver at the end of 2006 after twenty years away in New York, I went to the Chan Centre on March 23, 2007 to hear Alfred Brendel play. After so many years in the music business in New York, I had heard nearly every great artist in the world, and yet somehow had never heard Mr. Brendel perform. I confess I was a little burned out by the time we left Manhattan, and my youthful passion for music was a bit tarnished after years of managing and touring artists.

But I couldn’t miss the chance to hear one of the greatest artists of our time and an amazing thing happened as I sat listening to his awe-inspiring performance and extraordinary artistry – he called me back to myself! Mr. Brendel’s brilliance restored me, and rekindled the love of music that had been the animating force throughout my entire life. I can’t describe what a wonderful revelation that was for me.

It was an extraordinary gift. It is a VRS performance I’ll never forget, and one for which I will always be grateful to Leila Getz, the Founder and Artistic Director of this series. Leila has given each of us, and indeed this entire city, 35 years of inspirational memories.

What is your favourite VRS Memory? Please write and let me know your story.

SB signature




Sean Bickerton
Executive Director


Cavorting at the Cliburn

A letter from Leila Getz

I returned last Monday from a trip to the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas with a prize winner and a cold!

It has been twenty years since I’ve been to a Cliburn Competition and have decided that I’m not waiting another twenty years. The next competition is in four years and I am planning on staying young and vigorous so that I can return….possibly with a group of interested music lovers from Vancouver (but more about that later).

I knew right from my arrival at YVR that I was going to have a great time; simply because the woman two ahead of me in the lineup to go through US Immigration had a companion bulldog. The dog was dressed in a wetsuit (which was a little tight) and she had obviously given the dog some calming medication for the flight (as it was accompanying her in the cabin).  As you know, in these lineups you stand, you move a few steps, you stand, you move. Well, each time she stood still the dog collapsed in a heap and fell asleep and each time she moved she had to drag the poor thing up, so that it could take three steps forward and collapse again.

This dog put a smile on everyone’s faces, including US Immigration officers. Everyone was in such a good mood, that I am thinking seriously about taking my dog with me when I travel in future.

Checking in to the hotel in Fort Worth was my next little adventure. There was a woman standing ahead of me, and upon closer examination I decided that she was very interesting and worth getting to know. I loved the way she was dressed (short grey hair like mine) and really kinky glasses and earrings.  When she turned around I said “I want your glasses” and she said “oh, I’ll give you the name of the store in Seattle”.  It turned out that my new friend, Widbey, was from Portland, where she is on the Board of the Portland International Piano Series, and she had brought a group of 18 subscribers to the competition.

She had arranged all the travel, tickets, museum outings and everything. Before we parted company she promised to send me all her notes on how to go about planning a trip like this for a group, and she did so just as soon as she got home.  On the free day between the semi- finals and the finals I was lucky enough to join her group on a special curated tour of the 10- year -old Museum of Modern Art, designed by Tadeo Ando, which houses the most incredible collection. All the art is post 1945. The building is magnificent and the collection is a dream. The most impressive thing about the experience was that because the museum has the luxury of space the art is not crowded and it’s a very easy gallery to go through without feeling overwhelmed. Fort Worth is renowned for its wonderful art museums. There is also the fabulous Kimbell Museum which is just across the road from the Modern Art Museum. There are other museums in the neighbourhood as well.  Oh, would that we could do this in Vancouver.

My other lucky perk was that my hotel room at the Worthington was just two doors away from the Cliburn Hospitality Suite. So, apart from having fun with other Cliburn guests in the hospitality suite, I could carry as much food and drink as I could back to my room when I left!

Now to the important stuff!  First of all, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to hear the twelve semifinalists play two full recitals, a piano quintet of their choice with the Brentano Quartet, and two concerti with the Fort Worth Symphony under Leonard Slatkin, who was an amazingly sympathetic and fabulous conductor.  The level of piano playing was extraordinarily high. And at that level it’s simply a matter of which ones have the magic and which don’t.  Ultimately, it’s that indescribable quality that separates the true artists from the gifted.

Beatrice Rana, right, 20, of Italy, reacts with her mother, Maria Solazzo, left, after winning the silver medal, 2nd place, in the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, USA on Sunday, June 9 2013. (Photo by Carolyn Cruz/ The Cliburn)

Beatrice Rana, right, 20, of Italy, reacts with her mother, Maria Solazzo, left, after winning the silver medal in the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, USA on Sunday, June 9 2013. (Photo by Carolyn Cruz/ The Cliburn)

It was clear to me right from the semifinals that Beatrice Rana was going to be at the top. She may only be 20 years old, but she plays with such maturity and innate musicianship, and her sound at the piano can only be described as ravishing.  Her Chopin Preludes were heart-stopping.  So was her performance of the Prokofiev 2nd Piano Concerto.  Her power and her intensity come from somewhere deep within. And her smile lights up the room.  Then, there was a contestant who didn’t make it from the semi-finals to the finals ( many of us were most disappointed by that)…a young Australian, Jayson Gillham who I think will have a career in spite of not reaching the finals.  His performance of the Schumann Quintet with the Brentano Quartet was my favourite chamber music performance of all.  Aside from his talent, he has a wonderful stage manner. He bounds on to the stage with such joy and radiance. He sits beautifully at the keyboard and delivers.

Towards the end of the finals I am proud to say that I predicted the outcome correctly.  The Gold Medal Winner, Ukrainian pianist, Vadym Kholodenko, also possessed the magic I was looking for. In the final round he played an electrifying Prokofiev 3rd concerto, and in his final recital he played  Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes…. a performance which was breathtaking.   As many of you may know, I am not a Liszt fan and by the time it was over I felt like a battered woman….nonetheless, the audience (including me) was transfixed.

I had the privilege of meeting a number of the jury members. My particular thrill was meeting Arie Vardi, a legendary teacher who teaches in both Tel Aviv and Hanover. He is the Chairman of the Jury of the Artur Rubinstein Competition in Israel.  He was the teacher of Yefim Bronfman and a host of other marvelous young pianists who have appeared (and will appear in the future) on the VRS’ Next Generation Series. Mr. Vardi was very excited because Boris Giltburg, an ex – student of his, and a pianist who graced our stage in Vancouver a couple of years ago, had just won First Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.  Arie Vardi is currently Beatrice Rana’s teacher (her previous teacher was Benedetto Lupo whom you will also hear on our series next season).  I attended a Master Class given by Mr. Vardi and it was one of the great experiences of my life. What a knowledge and imagination he has. He must be an extraordinarily inspiring teacher.  He was extremely complimentary about the VRS, saying that we have one of the best series he’s seen anywhere and how extraordinary it is that we find these young artists before anyone else does.  I felt 10 feet tall.

At the helm of the Cliburn is Jacques Marquis who recently came from Montreal to take over in Texas. A French-Canadian accent really stands out in Texas!  The competition is extremely well run, with seminars, master-classes, free lunch-hour concerts, receptions. I believe there are 1,200 volunteers!

I had the privilege of participating in a panel on the development of young artists’ careers.  I met presenters whom I know from other parts of America and Canada, and some I didn’t know previously.

As I sat in the same seat right throughout the competition I made friends with audience members around me.  The gentleman sitting behind me in the hall criticized me one evening when I came in wearing the same earrings as the night before!  Needless to say, he didn’t get away with it.

Audiences connect people in wonderful ways.  It’s just not the same as sitting at home in your living room.  People from all backgrounds come together to share a common passion and the vibrations are palpable. Even if the parking is a hassle!  Go for live…it’s the best way!

And, wouldn’t it be nice to take a group of subscribers to the next Van Cliburn in 2017?

Shall we make a plan?


P.S.  Don’t miss BEATRICE RANA. She opens our Paul and Edwina Heller Next Generation Series at the Playhouse on Sunday, September 29 at 3pm.



Following their incredible journey through the Beethoven Piano and Violin Sonatas in three concerts for the Vancouver Recital Society, Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov were anxious to blow off excess steam and see something of Vancouver before they left for their next engagement in San Francisco.

So I, as the tour guide, and Allison Hart, one of the concert sponsors and the driver for the tour, set out with the musicians on Sunday after they had changed and packed up. We headed down to Granville Island where the plan was to take them on a quick tour of the market before driving through Stanley Park, and then continue on to West Vancouver, where we were to meet the rest of the Beethoven Project sponsors for dinner.

At Granville Island we re-fueled the musicians with strong coffee and literally ran around showing them the wonders of the market. Then, we walked over to the Net Loft into the craft gallery where Alexander made a purchase. Isabelle walked across the corridor and spied Edie’s Hat Shop. “Oh,” she said, “I love hats!”  In we went. The young salesman pointed out that the store would be closing in three minutes, to which Isabelle responded, “Oh, you may not want to close in three minutes as you have some serious customers!”

As it turns out, Isabelle has the perfect head and face for hats. Every single one she tried on looked fabulous on her. Meanwhile, Alexander (who is a HUGE fan of Fred Astaire) asked whether they carried Top Hats. And of course, as you can see from the photograph, they do!

We left Edie’s hats 45 minutes later having purchased a total of 6 hats among us. Now there was no time to drive through Stanley Park, but we were wide awake from our hat shop adventure and decided to wear our hats to dinner. We turned a few heads, and had a wonderful dinner.

Is this really why artists so enjoy coming to Vancouver? 



Last night I had one of the most perfect concert experiences of my life. I have been attending a conference of music managers and presenters in Budapest. I discovered that baritone Christian Gerhaher was singing an all-Schubert song recital in the Vienna Konzerthaus. It was sold out, but after 33 years in the concert presenting world, I was able to pull strings and, to my utter astonishment, I became a guest of the Konzerthaus. So, I hopped on a train and headed back to Vienna (where I’d been just the week before) to hear the performance. The distance between Vienna and Budapest seems similar to the distance between Vancouver and Seattle. Except that, of course, one just sails through borders from one country to the next.

The Konzerthaus was packed to overflowing. There were 750 seats filled in the hall with an additional 50 seats on stage. I know this because I asked the Intendant of the Konzerthaus. I also enquired about their wonderful piano and he told me that they select and rent a new Steinway from the factory every two years.

I am guilty of over-using the word “extraordinary”, but there is simply no other word to describe Gerhaher’s voice (or voices, as he seems to have so many of them). He inhabits the text and the music he is singing. He simply delivered what Schubert intended when he wrote the songs. Nothing more and nothing less. His regular pianist is Gerold Huber and the two of them together are as one. Right down to the tiniest nuance. I can understand why Andras Schiff has chosen to invite Gerhaher to Carnegie Hall for his “Perspectives” Series. And of course, we, at the VRS are the beneficiaries of this collaboration. We jumped at the opportunity when we heard about it.

If you are a serious, discerning music lover you must not miss the Gerhaher/Schiff performance at the Chan on May 14. Don’t expect a larger than life personality like Bryn Terfel (nothing wrong with him!) but expect the most perfect delivery of song you will experience for many, many years to come. It is both deeply gratifying and humbling at the same time.

Leila (en route from Vienna to Budapest).


Yesterday I watched a video on the VRS YouTube channel featuring pianist Shai Wosner playing the concluding portion of Schumann’s “Carnaval”. I enjoyed it very much. As the video concluded, another video on the YouTube sidebar caught my eye: András Schiff playing the Andantino from Schubert’s Sonata in A Major, D959. I clicked on it and was transfixed and transported by the majesty and sheer magic of his playing. That video, in turn, led to another, much earlier performance of András playing the Goldberg Variations of Bach. Again, a performance so compelling that I had to immerse myself in it to the end. If you have a moment, go to the Vancouver Recital Society YouTube channel, click on the András Schiff playlist, sit back and enjoy!

I have a confession here. Along with Murray Perahia, András Schiff has been right up there on my list of most special pianists. There is something about the way that András sits, upright, and almost motionless at the keyboard as he weaves his spell. How incredibly lucky we are to be hearing him on May 14 at the Chan Centre with the equally remarkable baritone, Christian Gerhaher, and again at the Chan Centre on October 5 for the opening concert of our 12-13 Season, playing Book 1 of Bach’s “Well Tempered Klavier”. These will be concerts to linger in the memory for a lifetime.


Leila Getz

Murray Perahia…reminiscences

Murray Perahia first came onto my radar in 1972 when he won the Leeds International Piano Competition. I knew Murray’s playing through his recordings but didn’t have the opportunity to hear him live for the first time until 1983, when on a visit to London I was able to attend a recital he gave at the Royal Festival Hall. It was one of the most memorable concert experiences of my life. I was with a friend with whom I had studied music at university in South Africa, and the two of us left the hall speechless. We didn’t speak to one another until we had crossed the bridge over the Thames, to catch our Tube.

Two years later (the VRS was 5 years old) Murray Perahia played a recital in Portland on a small, but wonderful piano series. How envious was I when I found out that the only way the series was able to present Mr. Perahia was through the generosity of one of their subscribers who was a Murray Perahia fan, and was determined to get him to Portland at any cost.

Finally, three years later I plucked up the courage to engage Murray Perahia. Regrettably, he had to cancel as he came down with the flu in New York City. We found out only the afternoon before the concert, as we had been moving offices (pre cellphone days) and his manager couldn’t reach us as our telephone and fax lines hadn’t been installed. First call on the new phone number was “terribly sorry to have to tell you…”

He played his first performance for us the following year at the Orpheum and has returned to our series several times since. I have had the immense pleasure of having him practice in my home, and so has our sponsor, Martha Lou Henley. On one occasion he needed a break and went for a walk. I was panic stricken when he hadn’t returned after an hour and a quarter. Fortunately, back in those days the VRS office was located in the basement of my home, so I was able to leave the house to search for him. I did find him wandering around the side streets of Shaughnessy.

On another occasion he came to Vancouver for a concert at the time of the famous summit. We had booked him into the Four Seasons Hotel, which we then had to cancel as the Summit leaders had taken over the hotel. We re-located him to the Waterfront Hotel and let his management know. Somewhere between his management and his diary there was a ‘disconnect’. I waited at the airport for five hours, calling every hotel in town every 30 minutes to see if he had checked in. Bingo! Finally, the Wedgwood Hotel said that they had just found a room for a Mr. Perahia who hadn’t had a previous reservation but had been insistent that there had been! I asked them to send someone up to lock his door and not let him out until I arrived!

Each and every concert by Murray Perahia is a revelation and a deeply moving experience. I am so thankful that I have been a concert presenter at a time when Murray Perahia is at his prime.

Leila Getz, C.M., O.B.C., D.F.A.

Artistic Director

The Season Begins

Murray PerahiaOnce again we have a season of musical treasures that will be yours to discover over 21 performances, plus one very special presentation. To start this season we present the Vancouver debuts of two young musicians: pianist Boris Giltburg and violist Maxim Rysanov.

Boris Giltburg first came to our attention through a long-time friend of the VRS, who had heard him in Kansas City. Following what was obviously a stirring performance, she immediately called to say we MUST book this pianist. With that recommendation, his marvellou s reco rded performances and critical comments (including comparisons to the legendary Artur Rubinstein, no less), how could we not bring Boris to Vancouver so that you could hear him for yourselves?

As a violist, Maxim Rysanov has chosen the much-maligned instrument that, for some, is known more as the butt of jokes than as a solo instrument. But that is not the case with Maxim, who has staked out a solo career typically the domain of the violinist or cellist. Moreover, when you hear Maxim’s performance of Bach’s Suite, any thought of his instrument’s status will quickly vanish when you are treated to a sound and interpretation that seems “just right”. We are also pleased to welcome back Eldar Nebolsin, who made his recital debut on our series in 1998.

The third performance is our beloved Jerusalem String Quartet. We love them, and our audiences love them, and that is why we keep bringing them back to Vancouver.

Hopefully you know we have slipped in a very special presentation this season: the return of Alfred Brendel to Vancouver on Friday, October 21. Delivering a very special illustrated lecture, titled Does classical music have to be entirely serious?, this is a rare opportunity to hear the unequalled insight of a great pianist and musician. Tickets have sold very quickly for this presentation and there are very few remaining at this time.

We look forward to seeing you very soon as discover together the great musical treasures that lie ahead.

Leila Getz and Paul Gravett

Trousers, Duct Tape and the Jerusalem String Quartet

Duct TapePaul Gravett, hasn’t worked at the VRS long enough to know that to ask me “to write a few words about something” is like asking me to fly a jumbo jet!  Here is the response to his most recent request… “Would you mind writing a few words about your first encounter with the Jerusalem String Quartet?”

My first encounter with them in the 2000/2001 season was indeed memorable.  I picked them up at YVR when they arrived on a flight from Colombia at around noon. They were to perform at the Playhouse at 8pm that evening.  Kyrill, the cellist was the first one through Immigration and Customs by a long shot. He explained to me that not all their luggage had arrived in Vancouver with them.  And so it was….four instrumentalists and luggage for two.

You can imagine the hullabaloo in the car on the way to the hotel to check in just before their rehearsal and soundcheck at the Playhouse. There were heated discussions about what might be in Sasha’s (first violinist) luggage and what he could lend his two colleagues with missing luggage.

I tried to convince them that I really didn’t care whether or not they played the concert that evening in their jeans and t-shirts…that all I cared about was the quality of the concert.  And I told them that if they played wonderfully I was sure the audience would forgive them.

The run through was absolutely wonderful and I had no doubts that we were in for a great evening.

I took them back to the hotel to rest, and when I fetched them that evening to take them to the theatre they told me that they had solved the problem.  Kyrill had his dark suit and Sasha had his.  They went down to the dressing rooms to put their things down and then came up on stage to do a quick run through again.

I was sitting in the audience waiting for them to appear. And when they did, I thought I was going to collapse. I cannot recall when I have ever laughed harder, longer or louder.  Tears were rolling down my cheeks.  The stage crew came out to see what was going on. I could see them really trying not to laugh.

Sergei, the 2nd violinist had borrowed a pair of dark trousers from Sasha. Sasha is quite tall and very slim, and Sergei is shortish and squat. The trousers were dragging on the floor and he was walking in a manner which clearly demonstrated that the pants didn’t fit him.

The stage manager, offering to be helpful said “wait a minute, I have some duct tape. Duct tape fixes everything”.  He came back with the tape, got down on the floor and taped the trousers Sergei was wearing to the correct length…and which point I could see that the shoes he was wearing were at least three sizes too big.  The shoes stuck out way beyond his heels, which probably accounted for the comical way in which he walked.  Of course, that provoked more gales of laughter from me.  When I could breathe and speak again I told them that there was absolutely NO WAY that they could come out on stage like that, and that the entire audience would collapse in laughter and that they had to play in their travelling clothes.  So we reached an agreement. They would do just that, if I made an announcement at the beginning of the performance.

I made the announcement, and I demonstrated the way Sergei walked on stage, by which time both the audience and I were shaking with laughter. I described the shoes, the duct tape and the whole deal.

Some people said they didn’t know whether they had bought tickets for a concert or a comedy show.

What a great concert it was.  That’s why they are regular visitors to our series.

Leila Getz

Get wind of this…

I regularly receive e-newsletters from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust in London, and this most recent one contains a blog by Ramon Ortega Quero, the young Spanish oboist who will be gracing our stage at the Playhouse on Sunday, April 25.  If you don’t already have a ticket to this amazing young musician’s concert, try to finish reading his blog before you actually call the VRS or Ticketmaster.  No-one makes a more persuasive case for attending this concert than Ramon himself.  His blog highlights what it is that is so wonderful about working with young musicians on their way up.

Before you read what Mr. Quero has to say, I thought that you might like a little background on the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, or BBT, as it is known. The Borletti-Buitoni Trust was established in April 2002 to help young concert artists, in as flexible and innovative ways as possible, to develop and sustain burgeoning international careers.  Working in partnership with managers, concert promoters, broadcasters, publishers and recording companies the Trust aims to nurture selected musicians by encouraging their musical growth and providing an extended platform of opportunities which will help them gain greater public recognition.  BBT Trustees include internationally renowned pianist Mitsuko Uchida DBE.

As a presenter who delights in discovering young talent, I was canvassed to nominate a young artist in the early days of the trust.  I am happy to say that our nominee, the young Canadian baritone, Joshua Hopkins, was one of the artists they chose.   If you go on to their website you will see a fairly substantial representation of VRS alumni!

Here, then, from the BBT newsletter is Ramon’s blog:

Still on Cloud Nine

My trip starts one evening in mid-September 2007:

There we were three young oboists at Herkulessaal in Munich, after having played Strauss Concerto with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at ARD´s competition finals. The Jury came to stage, we were down where the audience sits, waiting for the result.

I was awarded first prize, something that didn´t happened at the oboe competition for 40 years! Of course, I didn´t expect it! I became the third one to get it in the competition´s history, after Heinz Holliger and Maurice Bourgue, and this means a lot. I remember from that moment I started to fly: I went to the stage to take my prize, talk to the press, have dinner with the Jury… it was a long evening and day.

I could never imagine that it would happen. I was not totally conscious of the situation that evening and the following days.  I couldn’t possibly imagine what it would mean to have got the first prize that evening. I was just 19 years old, and all was very new for me.

In the following months, I changed my residence to Germany, I got many concert invitations as a soloist, for chamber music, for playing in great orchestras as principal oboe, my manager came to me, I got the position of Principal oboe in the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra… All these things were really something that I never imagined to get as a 19-year-old! For me it was a dream that I wished to get, but never expected it so soon. My life just changed completely! Travelling everywhere for playing concerts, visiting many new cities, meeting so many different people, starting my work in the orchestra, where I have the luck to work with the greatest conductors and soloists of our time, living abroad…

It has taken me more than a year to get used to that big change, and still today I find myself dealing with things that I wouldn´t have expected so soon, like for example, right now, getting a Borletti Buitoni Trust fellowship.

This means a big help for me at the moment: We were having some contacts for CD productions with my agent, some conversations were opened, but it is really difficult today to make a project reality. With the support of BBT things are moving forwards. I have felt, from the first moment I have got the fellowship and got into the family of BBT, that it means a big push for my career.

Getting into the BBT family just gives a new air to all my projects: a CD will be released next Autumm. Probably I will take it with me on my “Rising Stars” tours, next season, where I will play on the greatest concert halls in Europe like Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Philharmonie Cologne, Konzerthaus Viena, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, etc..

And what I feel more important is the support that BBT is already giving me:

They want to be involved in my projects, offering me all the help that they can. All the publicity that comes together with getting a prize. All their knowledge about the classical music world and market. It makes me very excited and happy to have them on my side.

I just can be so thankful for all this help, it lets me take a new breath, have new fresh ideas and continue with this life, this flying I started 2 years ago.  I am still on the air! Thanks Life!

What’s so special about ‘special’?

Each season, as we prepare our new brochure, I stew over the concept of concerts we list therein as ‘special’ concerts.  These so-called ‘special’ concerts are generally performed by artists who are well known, who will attract larger audiences (we always hope) and they are not part of any of our series concerts.  What I hate about the word ‘special’ is that it implies that the other concerts on the series are not special.  I like to think that each and every concert we present IS special, or at least has the potential of being special. That depends, of course, upon how you interpret the word special.

I believe that people who buy tickets to live events know that they are taking chances, and that the outcome could be way beyond their expectations, or alternatively, rather disappointing. Not all performances can make time stand still, but when they do, and you can feel an audience collectively holding its breath, it’s probably worth five times the price of the ticket.  The trouble is that too many presenters promise the earth, and I think that the worst thing one can do is disappoint someone who is new to the art form, because that probably guarantees that they won’t return.

The concerts we present at the Vancouver Recital Society are ‘one offs’. One performance only. One chance to be blown away. Each is unique, which is what makes it special.  So what then, is the word that we can use to replace ‘special’ for the concerts in the larger venues?  Suggestions anyone?