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Heather Schmidt: Biography

Heather Schmidt
1974 -
Region: Ontario

Heather Schmidt

Heather Schmidt, pianist and composer, has emerged as one of the most talented, exciting and versatile musicians of her generation. She has received national and international recognition through performances, broadcasts, commissions and awards in Canada, the United States, France, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, England, Finland, Iceland, Mexico, and Brazil. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, she is currently based in the United States.

Heather received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Indiana University with double majors in composition and piano performance. In 1996, at the age of 21, she became the youngest student to ever receive a Doctor of Music degree from this institution. She subsequently completed two years of professional studies at Juilliard in New York City, studying composition with Milton Babbitt and piano with Yoheved Kaplinsky.

Heather began piano lessons at age four and composing at the age of five. She made her first public appearance at the age six and has performed extensively ever since. Throughout her education and musical career, Heather has received numerous awards and scholarships for performances of both standard and contemporary repertoire. Her earlier awards included first prize in the 1992 Austrian-Canadian Mozart Competition and the Rose Bowl and the 1992 Gold Medal for "most outstanding performer" at the Kiwanis Music Festival. More recently, Heather was awarded First Prize in the 2001 Eckhardt-Gramatt National Music Competition, and First Place, the Audience Choice Award, and the Maestro Choice Millennium Foundation Award at the 2000 Canadian Concerto Competition.

In the fall of 2001, as a result of her win at the Eckhardt-Gramatté piano competition, Heather gave a six-week tour of solo recitals in 18 cities across Canada, performing both contemporary and standard repertoire. Her 2002 season included solo recitals in New York City, Chicago (at the Dame Myra Hess Series at the Chicago Cultural Center in Preston Bradley Hall, broadcast live on radio and television), and Toronto (at the Music Gallery, recorded for national broadcast on CBC Two New Hours).

Recent and upcoming concerto engagements include appearances with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra (Mexico), Orchestra London Canada, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Red Deer Symphony, and the Kingston Symphony.

As a chamber musician, Heather has performed with many renowned artists. Of note is an exciting duo partnership with cellist, Shauna Rolston. This collaboration began with a successful duo recital performance at the Winnipeg New Music Festival in 2002, and continues with many forthcoming performances, including a duo recital in Hamilton to be recorded for national broadcast on CBC Two New Hours (2003), a duo recital at Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall as part of the University of Calgary 2003/2004 Celebrity Series, and a tour of the maritime provinces through Debut Atlantic (October 2004). In October 2003, Heather was invited by the Governor General of Canada to perform with Shauna Rolston and soprano Measha Bruggergosman as part of Canada's state delegation visit to Finland and Iceland.

Heather is currently composer-in-residence for the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Ontario, Canada (2002-05). She has also been composer-in-residence for numerous short-term residencies and festivals, including at the Strings of the Future Festival in Ottawa, the Niagara Symphony, Orchestra London Canada, the Schloss Elmau Festival in Germany and the Banff Centre. Heather won her first composition award at the age of six, and she has since won many prestigious national and international prizes in composition. These include a Juno nomination in the category of "Best Classical Composition" (2003), prizewinner of the Polytech Choir's 100th Anniversary Composition Competition (Finland, 2003), three consecutive BMI Awards (1993, 1994, 1995), SOCAN Composer Awards (1994, 1997), a Fleck Fellow from the Banff Centre (2001), the Zwilich Prize in the International League of Women Composers Competition (1994, 1996), the Dean's Composition Prize at Indiana University (1993, 1994) and the 1994 Robert Fleming Prize from Canada Council. She has received commissions from sources such as the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), Canada Council, the Alberta Foundation, WDR (Westdeutsches Rundfunk in Germany), the Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center, and the New York State Council for the Arts.

Several commercial recordings feature Heather as pianist and/or composer. Her solo piano CD "Solus," features three of her own compositions, as well as works by other Canadian composers (CMC Centrediscs label). The Amernet Quartet's performance of her string quartet Phantoms is available on a CD entitled "Music from Banff Live from Carnegie Hall" (Marquis label, EMI Canada). Heather's Cello Concerto (1998) was recorded by cellist Shauna Rolston with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra under Mario Bernardi, and was released in 2001 by CBC Records on "This is the Colour of My Dreams."

In addition to performance and composition, Heather is committed to education and community outreach. From 1999 to 2001, she was adjunct Assistant Professor of Music at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, where she taught private piano, keyboard harmony, and chamber music. As a visiting guest artist, she has given numerous lectures, master classes and private lessons at conservatories and universities, including Queen's University, Memorial University, Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, the University of Windsor, Mount Allison University, Acadia University, Wilfred Laurier University, Brandon University, the University of Manitoba Enrichment Program, and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Her most frequent lecture topics include: "Incorporating Improvisation and Creative Composition into Teaching and Performance Practice", "Interpreting Scores from the Viewpoint of the Composer", and "Understanding Performance Anxiety and Stress Management for Musicians."

2003

Centrestreams

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