Pianist Madeline Hildebrand was on Morning Light chatting about her Agassiz Festival experience, what keeps her coming back, and previewing the grand finale on Saturday! 

Agassiz Chamber Music Festival, Connected, is keeping virtual audiences engaged with many of Canada’s finest chamber musicians. Running from Sunday, May 30 to Saturday June 5, seven nights of glorious music-making are officially underway. 

Madeline Hildebrand is an award-winning and busy touring pianist who returns to Agassiz this year for two performances: Monday evening and the grand finale on Saturday. 

“I know that there is a stellar group of musicians that I will be playing with,” says Hildebrand when asked about what keeps her coming back to the Agassiz Festival. “That is the fun of it for me!” 

Case in point: performing the Robert Schumann Piano Quartet on Monday evening alongside three of the city’s foremost musicians Karl Stobbe, Dan Scholz and Yuri Hooker. 

Though Hildebrand has performed with them all before, she notes that it isn’t nearly as often as the three string players (all members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Clearwater Quartet) perform together. “Being the fourth member of that fold is just like stepping into a well-oiled machine,” she notes. 

“Festival concert series tend to sort of have the reputation where you have a week to prepare this music and then you perform it all together,” explains Hildebrand. With minimal preparation time, working with an ensemble who knows each other and their playing so well is a “joy” and a “pleasure” for Hildebrand. 

In an entirely virtual format for the first time, Agassiz has groups of musicians divided between Winnipeg and Ottawa. The distance between the two centres will disappear in the grand finale on Saturday night when Hildebrand at the piano in Winnipeg performs a duet with artistic director Paul Marleyn and his cello in Ottawa. 

“This is such an interesting way to produce music,” says Hildebrand. Having recorded each of their parts individually, they were then brought together in post-production. Though no substitute for live music-making, it is a rather novel workaround which embraces Agassiz’s theme this year: connection.