Classical series continues with Corey Hamm

Prolific performer and recording artist offers three sonatas at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Centre on February 23.

Tia Lalani - 14 February 2019

By Jessica Ryan

Exploring subtleties in sonatas of the 20th and 21st centuries, Canadian pianist Corey Hamm is set to appear in concert at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre on Feb 23.

Hamm, a music professor at the University of British Columbia, is coming east on a mini-tour that includes two concerts in his hometown, Edmonton, besides the stop in Camrose where, as a longtime friend of Augustana's director of music, professor Kathleen Corcoran, Hamm has performed several times in the Augustana Chapel. This concert will be his first in the Lougheed Centre.

First up on the program is Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 8.

"I love Prokofiev, but If I had to pick a favourite piano sonata, it would be this one. It's a huge, sort of epic, amazing piece," Hamm said.

The second work will be Sonata No. 1 (titled Floating Shadows) by Chinese composer Gao Ping. Hamm met Ping while performing as the piano half of the duo PEP (Piano and Erhu Project - Nicole Ge Li plays the erhu, a two-stringed bowed instrument) at the university in Beijing where Ping teaches. PEP and Ping hit it off, and the composer has contributed to PEP's burgeoning catalogue of commissioned works.

Hamm, who counts a large number of living composers among his acquaintance, has commissioned and then performed or recorded more than 300 pieces for piano or ensemble, with length typically the only guideline dictating what each composer produces. Over 70 works have been composed for PEP alone.

"You'll have composers who write very thorny, sort of contemporary pieces, which are wonderful; and then also jazzy pieces; and very accessible, beautiful contemplative pieces; or wild pieces and everything in-between, and that's exactly what we want-it's a huge variety of styles represented."

Hamm's concert will conclude with a sonata by Henri Dutilleux, a noted French composer with whom Hamm studied in the early 1990s. Hamm also has a project in the works to record the entirety of Dutilleux's chamber and piano music.

"It's also an epic and sort of cosmic piece," Hamm said. "The three sonatas I really love. They're very different, but I think they make a cool combination, and I'm excited to bring it to Camrose."

Following the concert, Hamm will lend an ear to performances by Augustana students in a masterclass open to the public.

"When my own students play in masterclasses, the great benefit is that you get new ideas, fresh ideas, often different ideas, but one of the even more common benefits is that you have the same ideas reinforced," Hamm said. "That can be quite good for the student to go, 'Oh yeah, I guess my teacher knows something and I should be doing that.'"

For tickets, visit the box office (780-608-2922) or And for any who may be mourning ill luck preventing them from hearing Hamm play Feb. 23, there is hope. He will be back in Alberta in the fall, playing Béla Bartók's notoriously difficult Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.

This article was submitted by the Jeanne & Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre.