Testimonials

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 also one of the nicest, most genuinely sincere and kind individuals I have ever met, and is in every way 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.

– Don Thompson, O.C., musician, composer, arranger

Ensemble Vivant’s CD Homage to Astor Piazzolla is magnificent! I was almost in tears at several moments in the disc. What a beautiful collaboration and sound, honestly, one of the best instrumental recordings I have heard in years. The sound is amazing and the pieces are impeccably chosen. This is the only CD on my new ipod, but I don’t care because I absolutely love it and could listen to it a thousand times. This is going to be a mega hit!

– Julie Jolicoeur, Paris, France

Ensemble Vivant and Producer Claudio Vena: Your CD (Homage to Astor Piazzolla) has arrived and I listened to it all day yesterday – it’s WONDERFUL!!!! What a great project…fun, well-executed, exciting…kudos to you all…congratulations! xo

– Rhyll Peel, violist (Toronto, Ontario)

Dear Catherine,

Thank you for helping to keep Leroy Anderson’s music alive and well. Your rendition of his Piano Concerto in C is splendid! I am sure he would be honored to hear your beautiful, inspired performances of his delightful compositions.”

– Philip Lieberman, author, Radio’s Morning Show Personalities, McFarland (Sarasota, Florida)

Dear Ms. Wilson:

Your program at Carnegie Hall was simply an unforgettable, sparkling and energetic performance of the Leroy Anderson Piano Concerto with the New York Pops. It was a magical evening thanks to your beautiful soul, which shines through in your exquisite playing. You enthralled an entirely sold-out Carnegie Hall. Thank you Catherine!

– Mary C. Thornton (Famous People Players, Toronto)

Dear Ms. Wilson,

Last night I heard you on Classical Arts Showcase performing an original composition entitled “Knollwood Place”. The emotion you conveyed just astounded me and moved me far beyond words. On another Classical Arts Showcase broadcast I heard you performing the Chopin Berceuse. Chopin is my favorite composer and I am listening for something special when various artists play his music. I must say I have found that something special – very special – in your playing. Your magical piano playing has embraced me totally and I am interested in purchasing your entire body of works. May you continue making such splendid, heart-rendering recordings. I ask to become, most gratefully yours,

– Brenda Klaus (Plattsburgh, New York)

Ensemble Vivant’s performance of Greensleeves/What Child Is This, may be the best I’ve ever heard. An intimate arrangement, written for Ensemble Vivant by Rick Wilkins, the melody soars over wonderfully played apreggios and distinctive chord changes. Together they capture this well-known melody like no one else – passionate, distinctive and achingly beautiful. One of the great performances and truly a must-hear!

– Joseph S. Szurly (New Jersey, NY)

To Catherine Wilson:
My husband and I really enjoyed a performance we saw on Classical Arts Showcase. You were playing in Chopin’s birth house. Is there ANY WAY POSSIBLE to purchase a copy of this video? My husband has been watching Classical Arts Showcase for years and your performance is his favorite of them all. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

– Sherry Kovell (Cortland, Ohio)

My wife and I recently had the great pleasure of hearing pianist Catherine Wilson perform at the Palm Court Orchestra’s ‘Blue Tango’ concert in Victoria, B.C. Catherine is a Canadian treasure- her pianistic artistry is exquisite – and we are delighted to now have in our possession four of her wonderful CDs including The Music of Leroy Anderson and her music video, Catherine Wilson and Friends.

– Brian and Asha Atwell (Victoria, B.C.)

Dear Catherine,
Your artistry is exceptional. Your sound, your touch, your musical imagination, your warmth…I could go on and on. Whether playing solo or whether it is the trio, the program and the playing is superb. You are an artist’s artist.

– Alec Catherwood, violinist (Petersburg, Ontario)

When I bought “Palm Court Encores” it was because your ensemble had “Au Fond du Temple Saint” without the singers. It turned out to be a real treasure. I must say the more I listen to samples of ‘Audience Favourites’ the more I like it. I am familiar with three of the selections. I think that I will buy it. Actually, I am listening to “ A Trumpeters Lullaby” right now. I will buy it. Thank you.

– Joan Johnson (Windsor, Wisconsin)

I couldn’t be more moved. Ensemble Vivant’s performance of The Old Toronto Klezmer Suite is rich with colour, imagination and deep soulful playing that reveals a profound understanding of this music. I was brought to tears by the tenderness and depth of pianist Catherine Wilson’s playing, and it is a joy to hear Catherine paired with the incomparable Joel Quarrington on double bass, and violinist supreme, Marie Bérard. The entire quintet is outstanding – this is a world-class ensemble in every way.

– Srul Irving Glick, composer of The Old Toronto Klezmer Suite

Hi Catherine – I recently acquired Ensemble Vivant’s CD Fête française from Phil and he was kind enough to send me your address so I could direct my raving in your direction personally. It is gorgeous and sparkling and Scott and I love it. I also can’t believe how quiet my kids are in the car when we play it – it is like magic. They listen to a lot of all kinds of music in the car, and a lot of it is classical and chamber music CDs, but there is something special about this one. I mean, they don’t even ask to switch to the recording of Dustin Hoffman reading ‘Horton Hears a Who’ – OK, that one’s pretty good too, I admit. But I hope that proves what a magical CD you have The Debussy and the Widor are unique and the playing is so beautiful all around. The Saint-Saens is also fantastic! Beautiful playing on everyone’s part and what a beautiful sound Phil has on the trumpet. Once again, it is a gorgeous and sparkling CD. Thank you for making it- it is so beautiful.

– Cathy Stone (trombonist, Trillium Brass Quintet, Toronto, Canada)

Dear Magnificent Catherine Wilson
Thank you ever so very much for your performance of the Leroy Anderson Piano Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra which I heard thanks to Classic Arts Showcase. I am interested in any and all videos and CDs that may be available of your playing. There are few musicians that make me say ‘woooooo’ when I hear them and you are in that group. Your touch and phrasing and warmth leave me speechless.

– Dan McGarigle (El Segundo, CA)

(Cellist) Sybil just recently gave me a copy of Mysterium. I think it is stunning. For me this is a new view of the depth of your personal artistry and vision. Your playing is sensitive and very revealing of the sense of the music. The music itself is affecting – somewhat like a ‘universal personal journey’ – which is an oxymoron but I think a particularly good one with respect to this music. Anyway I think Ensemble Vivant’s performance and interpretation is wonderful throughout. Thanks so much for the copy of the CD. It is one I will listen to a lot.

– Lynn Shanahan, Peterborough, Ontario

It is with great pleasure that I offer these words of admiration, praise and encouragement to the musical group Ensemble Vivant. They are the apple of my ears, as my vision is lacking, My first exposure to their music came this past Christmas Eve (2013), when Classical 96,3 FM was playing Christmas Classics.

My wife and I were listening in her room at a nursing home. Both of us were completely absorbed by the selection “Unto Us a Child is Born” from Handel’s Messiah. Although the arrangement was solely instrumental, the musical interpretation brought the lyrics to our imagination, particularly at the point “And His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”.

I called the radio station and they kindly contacted Enesmble Vivant’s pianist and Artistic Director Catherine Wilson. After listening to several of this wonderful group’s CDs, I am quite impressed by the high quality and integrity of the arrangements to the original scores. The fullness of a complete orchestration is maintained, while being performed by a smaller ensemble. The caliber and stunning artistry of pianist Catherine Wilson and her Ensemble Vivant is compelling and moving throughout.
I hope more dedicated music enthusiasts will come to know the wonderful musical accomplishments and superb artistry of Ensemble Vivant. Bravo!”

– Chris Adams (Former piano performance student of Professor Pierre Souverain, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto)

I absolutely your version of DeFalla’s Ritual Fire Dance! This CD will get on my ipod! Thank you Ensemble Vivant – you are terrific!”

– Jack Hodges (San Fransisco, CA)

Dear Catherine,

My lasting impression of having seen you on television on Classic Arts Showcase is that you are an Angel, both in your looks and in your music making. I long for a solo recording of you playing some of Scott Joplin’s music.”

– Bob Lynch (Lansing, MI)

How Can I Purchase Ensemble Vivant’s Christmas CD?
I was listening to my classical music station (WGMS in Washington D.C.) this afternoon and heard The Catherine Wilson Trio playing a medley of Christmas carols. It was so moving that I have been determined to track it down. I especially love your piano playing and would love to get this CD if at all possible. Thank you so much.”

– Todd Beall (Lanham, MD)

Dear Catherine Wilson,
Recently I saw a video of you playing Chopin in Chopin’s birthplace. Your playing was so wonderful. I would be so happy to purchase that video.”

– Jan Hangland, Seattle, WA

Dear Catherine,
After a dreary day of data modeling, I came home to listen to Ensemble Vivant’s performance of ‘Au Fond du Temple Saint’, which is played exactly as I imagined it would be…wonderfully shaped and deeply emotive. It brings a tear to the eye as when I play the vocal version by Caruso. All the selections on all your CDs are stunning and vivacious…I am sure a reflection of the group’s founder. In another time and place, I would have gone to the ends of the earth to find a beautiful soul like you. Alas, these CDs will have to do!”

– Kai Der (Crofton, Maryland)

Dear Catherine,
Thank you for your beautiful music. You did a great service in bringing out this CD, The Music of Leroy Anderson, collecting so much of his delightful music and playing it so beautifully. Unlike most classical pianists, you have a gift for playing syncopation well, and Rick Wilkins arrangements are wonderful. Thank you again for this priceless opportunity.”

– Frank Fish (Victoria, B.C.)

Dear Catherine,
I have just finished listening to your double CD of Leroy Anderson’s music and I felt compelled to write to tell you how much I enjoyed it. You play with such heartfelt affection that from a listener’s point of view you get completely captivated.”

– Michael Reason (Artistic Director, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra)

Catherine, I am so happy to have discovered you! I am totally disarmed by your artistry and your inner and outer beauty. The Catherine Wilson and Friends video is artistic, entertaining, varied in content and sexy! I love the variety of musical selections and styles you perform, and all so heart-rendering and beautiful. I am glad to be counted among your ‘Friends’.”

– Randy Kleine, Milford (Cincinnati) Ohio

My son, a pre-college cello student at the Blair School of Music listens tirelessly to Ensemble Vivant’s performance of Srul Irving Glick’s Old Toronto Klezmer Suite. He loves listening to the Catherine Wilson and Friends recording of this Suite and wanted to express this to pianist Catherine Wilson whose sensitive and passionate artistry has touched him greatly.”

– Lisa Hoke (Nashville, Tennessey)

Pianist Catherine Wilson with her group Ensemble Vivant opened the Orillia Concert Association’s 66th season on Sept 30, 2012 to an enthusiastic audience. The members of this wonderful group include Catherine Wilson, piano/artistic director; Erica Beston, violin; Sybil Shanahan, cello; Norman Hathaway, viola; and Don Thompson, vibes and bass. Ensemble Vivant presented a program that connected the music of Bach to the Latin music of Piazzolla and others, as well as music by Charlie Chaplin, Don Thompson himself, and more. The program began with the Little Fugue in G Minor by Bach and ended with Fugata by Piazzolla. It was a brilliant concert and an exciting approach to programming that really worked with the audience as evidenced by the standing ovation at the conclusion. If you have a chance, don’t miss Catherine Wilson with her Ensemble Vivant.”

– Stan Passfield, President Orillia Concert Association

The warmth and precision of Ensemble Vivant’s performance of the music of Leroy Anderson charmed the Imperial Theatre’s audience … GREAT PERFORMERS! GREAT SHOW!”

– Ralph MacLean, Imperial Theatre, Saint John, NB

Led by renowned pianist Catherine Wilson, the musicians of Ensemble Vivant are world class performers with a rare artistry of exceptional depth, sensitivity and musicality. They possess a magnetic and exciting stage presence combined with a warm intelligence that never fails to win the hearts of their audiences. Their concert wowed us last year and we had to have them back for a concert at the Arts and Letters Club so that an even broader audience can enjoy their musicality.”

– Arts and Letter Club, Toronto

Magical Evening with Ensemble Vivant
Thank you for a splendid concert this past Friday at the St. Lawrence Centre with Ensemble Vivant. Both a visually and acoustically memorable event enjoyed by everyone in the sold-out hall. The eclectic variety of pieces and styles spanning from classical, jazz to contemporary were brilliantly performed. I was moved, often to tears by so many of the works performed. Rick Wilkins’ Divertissement, was one of the many highlights for me that evening. I am able to continue enjoying this magical event as I listen to Ensemble Vivant’s Audience Favourites CD. Thank you again.”

– Elizabeth Krasnic (Collingwood, Ontario)

Catherine, watching you play was as beautiful and intense as listening to you play. You move into the music, your soul moves with it and you take the rest of us with you. Thank you!”

– Peggy Boccia (Toronto, Canada)

My dearest Catherine – You are JOY!!!!!!!
I cannot thank you enough for your magical piano playing and what that did for my mother. You are not just a pretty face, you are a beautiful person with a heart that is made from pure gold and kindness. Your soul is music that stirs the imagination and brings us all to our knees in gratitude”

– Diane Dupuy (President & Founder, Famous People Players, Toronto)

Hello Catherine,
A friend treated me to your concert in Toronto recently. What a treat it was in every way. I really found myself restored and better equipped to release my worries about the future and stay in the present. Please let me know when you record John Burke’s Mysterium. The depth you and your Ensemble Vivant bring to every piece you play is profound. Thank you again for bringing joy and pleasure to so many people’s lives and may you continue to do so for many years to come.”

– Leigh Davidson (Toronto)

Bravo! Ensemble Vivant’s recent Toronto concert was fabulous! I loved the unique mixture of styles, the energy and the passion, intensity and soulfulness. You are a sparkling presence!

– Julia Walden (Toronto)

BRAVO! How wonderful to be so exceptionally talented and gifted at what you so obviously love to do. Thank you Ensemble Vivant for creating the most magical evening of beautifully performed music. The group plays with all the passion in the world. I must also say how gorgeous you looked, but more than anything else, it is your extraordinary talent – your extraordinary musical gifts that captivated everyone in the sold-out hall – and you spoke so well – very charming and sweet. The 3 of you are exceptional. I purchased your Classical Potpourri and I can’t stop listening to your solo of Chopin’s Etude, Op. 10, No. 3, as well as Satie’s Les Trio Gymnopedies. I also love the Puccini, the quintet’s riveting version of Maple Leaf Rag, as well as your magnificent composition, Knollwood Place. I can’t wait for your next Toronto concert. With warmest heartfelt wishes, a devoted fan,”

– Kimberly Gibson (Toronto)

What a treat it is to hear Catherine Wilson and Ensemble Vivant. You wow us with your talent, your warmth, your sensitivity and your splendid performances of every piece you play. You are beautiful inside and out, and this is realized in your music-making. We loved the entire concert. We are fans of Ensemble Vivant and we can’t wait for your next performance in Toronto and for your next recording. Thanks to you the world is greatly enriched. With warmth and many thanks,”

– Dalliah and Harvey Organ (Toronto)

Dear Catherine,
While enroute to Dallas I was kept company all the way by your exquisitely beautiful music which I listen to over and over. You are a sensational artist.”

– Duilio Dobrin, composer, conductor (Tampa, Florida)

Hi Catherine,
Michael and I wanted to thank you for an amazing concert the other night. The feeling in the concert hall was so warm and wonderful. You obviously have quite a following! What a treat to hear and watch such brilliantly talented and incredibly beautiful people perform! The evening just sparkled! We wanted to speak with you afterwards and buy some CDs but the enormous crowd was too dense. I would love to buy at least 2 of your Audience Favourites CDs, among others. Thank you again Catherine and Ensemble Vivant. Warmest regards,”

– Susan Fox (Stratford, Ontario)

Thank you Ensemble Vivant
It was an absolute thrill hearing Ensemble Vivant in concert. Our audience’s reaction – two standing ovations! – has been followed up with no end of written feedback praising the group, including unanimously exclaiming that Ensemble Vivant cannot be topped in any way. Catherine Wilson’s piano playing was sheer heaven. As well, when she spoke to the audience, her genuine warmth, intelligence and natural appeal echoed the beauty of her exquisite piano playing. The program was exceptionally interesting and not at all typical for a piano trio. This is a group with tremendous originality, passion, sensitivity and virtuosity. They were dazzling in every way. We thank you for the opportunity and we welcome Ensemble Vivant anytime.”

– Gratefully yours, the concert board of Eagle River, WI

ENSEMBLE VIVANT was spectacular! It was a heart-warming evening in every way. Not only were the musical selections varied stylistically from classical to jazz styles, but the performances could not have been more communicative. These performers have true depth and warmth – they are world class artists. May every community have the opportunity to be enriched by an Ensemble Vivant concert.”

– The concert board of North Platte, NE

The concert last night was tremendous! Wilson and Friends were more than friends, they were extensions of each other. In have never seen a trio be so in tune, musically and with each other – they were like one in their absolutely superb music-making. Thank you for giving our audience so much lasting joy”

– Concert board of Algona, Iowa

What a genuine treat Catherine to meet you and hear your incredible playing with this wonderful group of musicians. Thank you so much for such a wonderful pleasure and for making our world a much more beautiful place thanks to your rare artistry. ”

– Brian King (Ottawa)

Dear Catherine Wilson,
I heard you perform in Newcastle, WY a couple of years ago and just loved your concert – you were just fantastic! I bought your Classical Potpourri CD and many of my friends are now wanting copies for themselves. As well, I just love your Christmas Tidings CD – who wouldn’t – it’s the most beautiful Christmas CD ever recorded. May you return to perform in concert here again. Thank you Catherine.”

– Irene Spillane (Newcastle, WY)

Wonderful performance Ensemble Vivant! Please come back very soon. No words can describe the beauty you bring to your audiences – to whoever hears you – thank you so much. Yours gratefully,”

– Joan Smith (Barrie, Canada)

Dear Ensemble Vivant,
Just a quick note to say a big “Thank You” for a wonderful concert. Your Toronto concert coincided with our 23rd wedding anniversary. This was our first Ensemble Vivant listening experience and we were so excited as we had heard great things about your performances. But no words can adequately describe just how magical your concert was. And it was such a thoughtful and varied program – a musical journey beautifully planned and exquisitely performed. Your spontaneous and heartfelt commentary was much appreciated and enjoyed. It gave us a greater understanding for the intent of the composers, and I loved how you tied together the diverse styles you perform with such love. We are heading out today to HMV to purchase your ‘Audience Favourites’ CD, and we are looking forward to your next live Toronto performance! Thank you again Ensemble Vivant.”

– Steve and Janus Lebo (Toronto, Ontario)

Thank you Catherine for your excellent and stunningly beautiful concert tonight. Your playing is so beautiful, so poetic, so passionate and so moving in every way.”

– Carol Davids (Barrie, Canada)

Ensemble Vivant – Your performance was electrifying! Everyone of the group members were charming when introducing program selections. Please come back to Perth to enchant us again and again. With grateful thanks,”

– Harvey Jackson (Perth, Ontario)

A wonderful program and absolutely fabulous playing – heartfelt and rich with emotion – we feel very lucky to have you back in Perth. May you return very soon.
Thank you Ensemble Vivant. ”

– Hank and Karen Lemky, (Perth, Ontario)