“…pianist CATHERINE WILSON, the pride of Canada…” (Burlington Standard Press, U.S.A.) is one of Canada’s most interesting and innovative concert pianists and recording artists. She has been repeatedly honoured for her exceptional artistry and sensitive musicality as well as for her unique, imaginative programming. Since the beginning of her performing career, Catherine’s interesting and genre-diverse repertoire has run the stylistic gamut from the genius of Bach, to the poetic beauty of Chopin, to the elegant delicacy of Debussy, to the syncopated rhythms of ragtime and tin pan alley, and the sensuous tangos of Piazzolla, to other Latin and jazz related styles, as well as newly composed works in these diverse genres. Some of the greatest jazz composers of our time have written arrangements for solo piano for Catherine, as well as for her spectacular group, Ensemble Vivant. Composers such as Rick Wilkins, C.M., John Burke, Michael Coghlan, Srul Irving Glick, Aldemaro Romero, and others have written original works for Catherine and for Ensemble Vivant.
Inspired by his association with Catherine Wilson and Ensemble Vivant in concert and recordings, jazz legend Don Thompson, O.C. wrote: “I’ve been a professional musician for the past 50 years and during that time I’ve worked with some of the greatest musicians in the world from Glenn Gould to Oscar Peterson. I’ve played with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived. The passion and beauty of Catherine Wilson’s piano playing is overwhelming. She is a beautifully gifted pianist and musician with a depth of feeling that separates her from the rest and makes her a real standout in the Toronto music community. She is an inspiration to everyone who knows her. I am honored to be part of her music and honored to join Canada’s world class Ensemble Vivant.”
She is a beautifully gifted pianist and musician with a depth of feeling that separates her from the rest… (Don Thompson)
Catherine Wilson’s passionate dedication to music and her audience has included extensive research and the exciting discovery of works from the classical and jazz genres that have become obscure. She has re-introduced these newly found gems to audiences world-wide in concert and on recordings. Catherine has won the hearts of fans and critics alike with inspired, soulful and virtuosic interpretations. Her renditions of Chopin (described as “exquisite” by the Toronto Star) have been compared to the great Artur Rubenstein. She has been equally applauded in the ragtime and jazz worlds, including accolades from jazz great and Order of Canada recipient Rick Wilkins, who said of Catherine’s playing:
no matter the genre, there is magic in her music making. (Rick Wilkins)
Rick Wilkins further commented: “Catherine Wilson is a wonderful amalgam of talents. She is a virtuoso pianist combing ample technical fire power with the refinement and grace required in an all-round consummate performer.
I have known and worked with Catherine for 25 years and am continually amazed at her accomplishments and artistic gifts as well as her dedication to ensuring that her musician colleagues reap the benefits of her efforts including through the countless concerts and numerous exciting recording projects, all of which have original themes and concepts, that have resulted through Catherine’s creativity, musical imagination, brilliance and tireless efforts.”
Catherine’s debut at Carnegie Hall in April 2005, where she was the invited soloist of Maestro Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops, was a triumphant success. Performing to a sold-out hall, the audience included Mrs. Leroy Anderson and two of her sons, as well as the famed actor Richard Dreyfuss. Additionally, her performance of Leroy Anderson’s Piano Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra was filmed by PBS and appears in the documentary on Anderson’s life, Once Upon a Sleigh Ride, which is frequently broadcast on PBS, Classic Arts Showcase and on Bravo internationally. Resulting from this success was the release of the unique 2-CD compilation The Music of Leroy Anderson, which includes Catherine’s performance of the Leroy Anderson Piano Concerto with the Toronto Symphony. Of her performances of this concerto, Skitch Henderson said: “Catherine Wilson brings great technical virtuosity and magical music making….she possesses rare depth combined with highly sensitive artistry that is tremendously refreshing.” This beautiful 2-CD recording, which has received critical acclaim internationally, includes several solo piano selections. Joseph So from La Scena Musicale wrote:
“Catherine Wilson’s affinity for Anderson’s music is much in evidence in this delightful recording…her sensitive piano playing shies.”
Catherine Wilson is the founder, pianist and artistic director of the popular international chamber group sensation ENSEMBLE VIVANT, hailed as “Canada’s Chamber Music Treasure” by John Terauds of the Toronto Star. A pioneer among piano chamber ensembles, Ensemble Vivant has garnered accolades internationally from the classical and jazz worlds. Catherine as a soloist or with Ensemble Vivant continues to dazzle sold-out houses throughout North America and in Europe, and has been recording for almost 30 years.
Ensemble Vivant’s 12 recordings, which are heard on radio around the world, appear on many fine labels, including Fanfare, Pro Arte, Doremi, SPY and Opening Day Entertainment Group. Many of these recordings feature Catherine in solo performance and in piano duo or piano duet, for example. Catherine was invited to be part of an educational classical music series that was produced and directed by New York’s Peter Rosen. The five videos that became part of this series showcase some of the styles Catherine and Ensemble Vivant perform, and include solo performances by Catherine of Chopin and Gershwin and also showcase an original composition by Catherine. These stunningly beautiful videos continue to be broadcast frequently on Classic Arts Showcase and PBS.
In April, 2011 Opening Day Entertainment Group released Ensemble Vivant’s recording Homage to Astor Piazzolla to rave reviews. Catherine had the privilege of collaborating with Piazzolla expert Julien Labro, who wrote arrangements especially for Catherine and Ensemble Vivant of Piazzolla’s spectacular music. Of this recording Labro said “this disc is a precious contribution to the roster of existing Piazzolla recordings… destined to become a classic.” Labro’s solo piano arrangement of Piazzoll’s ‘Oblivion’, which he arranged for Catherine, caught the attention of François Paré from Radio Classique, Montréal, who wrote: “To my heart, your rendition of Oblivion is the most touching I have ever heard: Bravo!” This performance has since been realized in a performance video/art film by Robert Divito which was released internationally in June, 2013 and has already appeared on Classic Arts Showcase.
Catherine has been invited to perform and record solo piano music by Canadian composer Michael Coghlan. She gave the world premiere performance of his work Fugue for Fireflies at the Indian River Festival in P.E.I. in August, 2014.
Catherine Wilson has performed for several heads of state, including Queen Elizabeth II. As a composer, she has written for many CBC Radio productions and Ensemble Vivant recordings.
Catherine is also the founder and artistic director of EUTERPE, a not-for-profit charitable musical organization whose mandate is to foster a love of great music particularly among our youth, through providing interactive, educational performances of highly developed classical and jazz programs, free of charge, to children and others who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the healing and transformative effects of great music. These performances are delivered live on acoustic instruments by artists of the highest caliber from Toronto’s classical and jazz communities.
Catherine was an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Piano at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan for over five years, and since 2005 has been Course Director for such courses as the African American Musics Piano Performance Course at York University, which includes Ragtime, Boogie Woogie, Novelty Classics and Blues Piano repertoire. Catherine also teaches classical piano at York University and is completing her PhD at that institution. Her research explores some of the many roles that music plays in support of health and wellness, and how the musical nurturing of our youth leads to happier and healthier individuals and communities.