Each year brings a project or chapter in pianist Stewart Goodyear’s life that means so much to him. During this particular season, the phenomenal musician and composer hopes listeners leap out of their seats and dance, just like he felt like doing while recording his latest album with conductor Wayne Marshall and Chineke! Orchestra.
The new recording also will be the 100th to be released on the Orchid Classics label, which was founded by violinist Matthew Trusler in 2005 and has since established itself as a strong creative outlet.
The forthcoming album features George Gershwin’s masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue, together with two of Goodyear's own compositions: his Piano Sonata and Callaloo, a virtuoso tour de force for piano and orchestra which features driving jazz rhythms and colorful orchestration. It is due to be released on June 7.
“Both Callaloo and my Piano Sonata are works that take inspiration from my ethnic heritage, as well as the music of my generation,” Goodyear said.
Goodyear said his Piano Sonata was composed as a response to the music he heard as a teenager, during his graduation recital at the Curtis Institute of Music. He used Liszt as an inspiration (“hence the virtuosity in the piano writing”) but used his youthful soundtrack of techno music, smooth pop, Latin-infused dance, Canadian folk and rock ’n roll.
“I wanted my Piano Sonata to celebrate the traditions of the sonata form with the music of my peers,” Goodyear said.
Goodyear has wanted to write a piece that honors his family background since he was 14 years old.
“As a boy, I would spend my summers with my cousins, uncles and grandparents in Trinidad. Hearing the musical sounds of the Trinidadian community, it was a life-long dream to compose a work that created a bridge between classical and Calypso music,” he said.
Goodyear finally achieved this dream three years ago, and it has been accomplished through the recording with Marshall and Chineke!, a collaboration the artist cherishes deeply.
“I cannot say that it is solely mine....This project belongs to all the musicians who helped bring this recording to life,” he said.
Preparing For The Stage
To coincide with the release, Goodyear will give the London premiere of his Callaloo suite at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (June 13), followed by performances at The Anvil, Basingstoke (June 14) and Symphony Hall, Birmingham (June 15).
“I look forward to every second of that performance!” Goodyear said. “London is my favorite city, and I have immense joy every time I visit. I am very excited to share my composition with the London audience.”
Goodyear has some different methods for when he prepares to perform on stage. In addition to meditating a half an hour before performing, he has a few rituals, such as reading a pocket-sized biography on Beethoven or reviewing the cover to the Beatles’ album “With The Beatles” before performing Gershwin.
“I love staring at that cover as that album, similar to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, caused a revolution in music,” he said.
To learn more about Stewart, visit his website.