A crowd gathers for Piano Power, presented by OutLoudYYC, Downtown Calgary, Honens and the CORE Shopping Centre in February 2016 | Photo: Courtesy of Honens


Canada’s International Festival of Piano gears up to tickle the ivories

Amy Jo Espetveidt

  • Price Free - $55
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Fresh off the heals of being named Festival of the Year at Tourism Calgary’s White Hat Awards, Honens is back for four days of piano excellence.

Running September 8 to 11, 2016, look for recitals, films, a performance of the longest piano piece in history, and much more.

“Our 2016 festival line-up proves that the piano is for everyone,” said Stephen McHolm, Honens’ Artistic Director, in a statement. ”We’re bringing music to the streets, parks, late-night watering holes and Calgary’s premier music venues. It truly will be four days to make your ears smile.”

Mark your calendars, here are our must hear events for the four-day festival:


September 8, 2016, 4:30am – 12:00am
Contemporary Calgary (117 Stephen Ave. SW)

A chance to celebrate composer Erik Satie’s 150th birthday and Calgary’s Year of Music, this performance can only be described as legendary. Hear the longest piano piece in history, Vexations, over 18 hours and played in shifts by 40 pianists dubbed Esther’s Piano Relay Team. All Calgarians are invited to settle in for prolonged bouts of free meditative listening.

Marc-André Hamelin

September 9, 2016, 7:30pm
Jack Singer Concert Hall, Arts Commons (205 8th Ave. SE)
$10 – $55

Marc-André Hamelin returns to Calgary for the first time since his sold-out Honens recital in 2010. Expect to hear his unrivaled blend of musicianship and virtuosity in a program that includes Beethoven’s Sonata No. 23 in F minor Op. 57 ‘Appassionata’ and Chopin’s Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor Op. 35.

Bison Noir

September 9, 2016, 10:00pm
Royal Canadian Legion No. 1 (116 7th Ave. SE
$18 – $22.50, 18+

Always a good time, Bison Noir returns and this year it’s all about Schubert and the Haunting Destiny. Co-presented by New Works Calgary and inspired by the art songs of Franz Schubert, composer David Lang enlisted four classically trained artists active in alternative-pop circles to perform this song cycle called death speaks. death speaks makes its Canadian premiere at this late-night cabaret after being premiered at Carnegie Hall and Stanford Lively Arts in 2012.


September 10, 2016, 9:00am
King Eddy Hotel (438 9th Ave. SE)

Visiting pianist and 2006 Honens Prize Laureate Minsoo Sohn will be instructing and inspiring music students and teachers from across Alberta and you can swing by and check it out.

Open Air

September 11, 2016, 2:00pm
Central Memorial Park (1221 2nd St. SW)

Once again bringing the world’s best chamber music to Central Memorial Park, this free concert continues Honens’ tribute to Erik Satie’s 150th birthday. Minsoo Sohn, Artem Yasynskyy, and members of Kensington Sinfonia will be performing.

The 2016 Honens Festival runs September 8 to 11, 2016 at venues throughout Calgary. Head to honens.com for the full schedule.