After 12 years in South Africa, pianist Bryan Wallick is moving back to his native America, but not before performing with the CPO in Cape Town again, says PETA STEWART:

Bryan Wallick and the CPO

In fact, Bryan Wallick is opening the CPO Winter Season on 6 June  2019, in partnership with his good friend, the conductor Robert Moody. Wallick is delighted to be able to play with Moody in South Africa because he has the highest regard for him. And Moody has the highest regard for Wallick: “Bryan is a person I consider to be one of my ‘go to’ artists.  I return to working with him over and over again, because I know that I can totally trust his professionalism, technical strength, and – most importantly – immense artistry.  Plus we both love American football and chide each other, as our favourite college teams are rivals!”

We will see the result in the Barber Piano Concerto, which Wallick is performing with the CPO. Also on the programme are Dvorak’s My Homeland and the Symphony No. 4 by Tchaikovsky. Wallick will also accompany the next CPO soloist, cellist Alexander Ramm, in recital for the Cape Town Concert Series on 15 June 2019.

Recital circuit in Cape Town

Bryan Wallick is leaving South Africa with mixed feelings. His wife Gina is South African, and all three children were born here. He has also been running Schalk Visser and Bryan Wallick Concert Promotions since 2015, which means he has been able to perform in recital around the country with many of his artists. How he manages this now that he is about to take up an assistant professorship of piano at Colorado State University is something of a challenge.

“We will be leaving for Colorado later this year,” he says,  “and I will continue to organise tours, arrange concerts and come back to perform. Since 95% of this is done anyway by email, it won’t matter where I live. I hope my international exposure will be good for South Africa and that it will promote the South African musical scene more directly overseas.”

With both parents as musicians, Wallick starting playing the piano at the age of four. “My real love came at the age of 13 when I changed piano teachers and went to Eugene and Elisabeth Pridonoff at the University of Cincinnati. They made music and art come alive for me, and they instilled the work ethic, drive, technique and musical understanding which I still use today. That work ethic got me up at 4 am to get my hours of practice completed. I really enjoyed the work so I quickly decided after a year or two that I only wanted to do music.”

Bryan Wallick and the CPO

Feet on two continents

He’s glad not to be cutting ties with Cape Town in particular.

“Cape Town is one of the most amazing cities on this planet; the orchestra plays wonderfully, and now I can add the Barber to the list of concertos I have performed with the musicians.

“Barber is one of the greatest American composers of the 20th century, possibly the most accomplished pianist of the handful of great American composers, and his few very influential piano works show this virtuosic capability in a fantastic way.  This year has been my ‘Barber’ year as I also learned and have been performing his piano sonata. I’ve been reacquainted with my roots as an American pianist playing these American works (with my American conductor) on my way back to America …”

Wallick hopes his return to America will bring more engagements with American orchestras and on established recital platforms there.

Chamber music circuit

“I’ve always loved chamber music, and my time here in South Africa has allowed me to cultivate this dimension more specifically. There are so many chamber music festivals there. Perhaps I may even look into running one of these, having learnt so much about the music business here.”

He has recently returned from a recital at the prestigious Ravinia Festival in Chicago, and soon after settling in America he will undertake a recital tour of the American Southwest and then be a judge in Olga Kern’s International Piano Competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He will also perform the Grieg Piano Concerto with Moody and his Memphis Symphony.

Good luck, Bryan, with the move and the change in emphasis. While we hope Colorado is all you wish for we are also glad you will have feet on two continents

What: CPO Winter Symphony season with Bryan Wallick (piano)

Where and when: Cape Town City Hall on 6 June 2019

Book: Artscape Dial-A-Seat 021 421 7695, Computicket