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Academy of Fortepiano Performance International Fortepiano Salon

Date: Saturday, January 29, 2022
Time: 2:00pm EDT
Streamed LIVE on Facebook and YouTube.

This show is FREE.

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Donations to the Catskill Mountain Foundation are encouraged...please CLICK HERE to donate.

Improvisation in Historical Styles: Reviving a Lost Practice

Improvisation was an integral part of the everyday musician’s activities in the common practice era, and went hand in hand with composition, teaching and performance. Mozart, Bach, Chopin and Beethoven were all marvelous improvisers. Today, many of the world’s leading conservatories are beginning to offer courses to explore this subject, as the need to “go beyond the printed page” are evident in our rapidly-changing cultural tastes.

This Salon proudly presents some of the current leaders in the international revival of historically based improvisation. John Mortensen and Nicola Canzano are leading the charge with their creativity, scholarship and teaching. We will have conversations with them about their perspectives and approaches, as well as have them improvise live on a historical Erard piano and the harpsichord.

We will also invite you, the audience, to write a bar or two of music to be thrown into a "hat,"  and have our performers improvise on them live. 

Yiheng Yang will also be joined by AFP alum Julian Jenson for some improvisations inspired by Brahms.


Dr. John Mortensen is a leader in the international revival of historic improvisation. Appearing frequently as concert artist and masterclass teacher at colleges and universities in America and Europe, he is noted for his ability to improvise entire concerts in historic styles, including complex compositions such as Baroque fugues.

He is the author of The Pianist’s Guide to Historic Improvisation (Oxford University Press, 2020), the world’s best-selling book in the field of historic keyboard improvisation, now in use as a course text at many leading conservatories.

Mortensen is a Steinway Artist and an Ohio Artist on Tour. In 2017 he was selected as a Fulbright Specialist by the U.S. Department of State to serve as an international artistic ambassador on behalf of the American people. In 2018 he toured Europe for three months, performing and teaching improvised music at conservatories across the continent.

In 2019 the State Department named him a Fulbright Global Scholar in Historic Improvisation, leading to performances and teaching at the national conservatories of Lithuania, Latvia, The United Kingdom, Denmark, and Canada.

He is the creator of Improv Planet, an online school of historic improvisation, where his students include concert artists and conservatory faculty from across the world.

He serves as professor of piano at Cedarville University. In 2016 he was named Faculty Scholar of the Year, that institution’s highest award.

Visit his website at johnmortensen.com.

Nicola Canzano (b. 1991) is a composer and keyboardist who specializes in historical composition and improvisation, with a further focus on the high baroque. His compositions in baroque style have been performed to universal acclaim both in the United States and in Europe, and some of his fugues are currently being used as course material at the University of Oregon under Dr. Timothy Pack. He worked for 13 years as an organist in the Episcopal Church, and has many times been hired to help with summer festivals such as Tafelmusik’s TBSI and Oberlin’s BPI as a continuo player. He is the founder of Nuova Pratica, a group of composer-performer-improvisers who are breaking old ground anew by playing each other’s works and experimenting with things like partimenti for ensembles. Nuova Pratica’s mission is to take historical performance practice both to its inevitable conclusion by composing new works in baroque and renaissance style, but also to find new directions within the endless utility of these techniques and to exploit the fruits of the last 100 years of musicological scholarship by presenting works in more ambiguous styles but with a baroque logic to glorious effect. Like all members of Nuova Pratica, Nicola graduated from Juilliard’s Historical Performance program. He also holds degrees in Physics, Music Composition and Harpsichord from the University of Michigan and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The Academy of Fortepiano Performance is funded in part by donations from private individuals and the Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family Foundation.

About the Academy of Fortepiano Performance
The Academy of Fortepiano Performance was co-founded by fortepianists Audrey Axinn, Maria Rose, and Yi-heng Yang in 2017 to provide an inspiring and practical immersion into the world of historical performance for students, professionals, amateurs, and audiences. Hosted by the Catskill Mountain Foundation Piano Performance Museum in the idyllic mountain setting of Hunter, New York,  the intimate performance hall, impressive piano museum, and comfortable student lodging are all in close proximity to each other and just 2 1/2 hours north of New York City. The Academy is open to students, professionals, and adult amateurs.

 

 

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