Concert pianist Catherine Wilson’s passionate, consummate artistry enchants diverse audiences of all ages. She is also the pianist and artistic director of Ensemble Vivant, which came onto the international concert and recording scene 30 years ago. Ms Wilson is an innovator in presenting genre-diverse repertoire, segueing effortlessly throughout her career from classical works to various jazz and related popular styles. She and Ensemble Vivant have also debuted newly written works in these diverse genres, and featured important but unknown compositions her research has unearthed. Whether as a soloist or with Ensemble Vivant, her performances have consistently garnered accolades, and unsolicited testimonials about how deeply the music- making touches the audiences.
Catherine has lived the healing effects of good music. Sporadic access to an old upright piano when she was in grade school, and then opportunities in junior high school programs and a community concert band were key to her emotional survival in a strife-ridden childhood. These musical families were a safe haven, and these early experiences planted the seeds that led to her career.
The gradual realization from reviews and personal comments that Catherine’s own music-making communicates to audiences the profound nurturing effects she had experienced, brought her to found the musical organization Euterpe, which received not-for- profit charitable status in 2006. Part of Euterpe’s mission is providing, free of charge, live, interactive, educational performance programs by artists of the highest caliber to children and others who would otherwise not have the opportunity. Additionally, Euterpe in collaboration with sponsors such as Yamaha Canada Music Ltd., provide instruments, and also lessons, through the Toronto Piano Group and Yamaha Music School.
Great artists from the Toronto classical and jazz communities have endorsed Euterpe and performed Euterpe programs in the public school system in the GTA and in other parts of the country.
Catherine’s work with Euterpe garnered an invitation to pursue graduate research at York University focusing on the benefits of live quality music to the well-being of individuals and to society in general. Her PhD dissertation explores writings and research from ancient times to the present about the healing and nurturing qualities of music, with the added perspective of her own experiences as a concert performer of 30 years.
Catherine’s central premise is that all humans have the right to be exposed to good quality music from birth and to continue to be nurtured by good quality music at all ages throughout life. Sadly, today music programs in the public school system have been cut back so severely that these opportunities are available to a shockingly minute percentage of children.
“A Vision in Action,” Euterpe’s work to reverse this trend, has been endorsed by leading neuroscientist, Dr. Laurel Trainor, founder and director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind (MIMM) at McMaster University. “The wonderful interactive high-caliber performances of classical and jazz music that Euterpe artists (Ensemble Vivant) bring to our children and youth are of vital importance for planting the seeds of music in our lives and putting people on a path to be enriched by the benefits of music.” Dr. Trainor was quick to point out that Euterpe’s programs realize in action what neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists and other researchers have determined to be beneficial for children and others through ongoing experimentation. Without Euterpe’s work, for example, the scientific findings are not able to benefit our children and youth.
Euterpe’s flagship group is Ensemble Vivant, the core members of whom are:
Ensemble Vivant are Opening Day Entertainment Group Artists with over a dozen internationally critically acclaimed recordings to date, many of which were captured ‘live in performance’. As jazz great and Order of Canada recipient Rick Wilkins commmented
“No matter the genre, there is magic in Catherine Wilson and Ensemble Vivant’s music- making.”
At every Ensemble Vivant concert there are Euterpe initiatives. Included among those are specially created live, interactive performance programs at public schools, seniors’ centres, a variety of care facilities, free tickets to Ensemble Vivant concerts for designated groups of children and others with need, and more. Catherine’s vision is that there be multiple Euterpe performances occurring regularly and simultaneously throughout the nation, delivered by high caliber artists from the classical and jazz communities who share her philosophy about the nurturing and other benefits of these interconnected musical genres and the importance of live music for our children and others.
Ensemble Vivant Founder/artistic director Euterpe
Visit the Euterpe website