The Piano Lunaire Performances: Ten MOONSTRUCK Questions for Jana Luksts

Jana Luksts played a dazzling programme at The Piano Lunaire on Monday, March 9th, 2020.  As we celebrate the Full WORM MOON, here are some fun, quick questions for the Canadian artist:

10 Moonstruck Questions:

  1. Where are you from originally?

Kelowna, British Columbia

  1. What is the newest must-play piece you’ve heard, added to your rep list?

I haven’t heard it yet, only seen – the new chamber piano concerto by Polish composer Agata Zubel.

  1. Name three composers you’d share a drink with.

We’ll have to stick with dead composers, since there are too many exceptionally interesting and passionate living composers to choose from! Jani Christou, Gerard Grisey, Frank Zappa…

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

It changed every week! Veterinarian, lawyer, forensic scientist….my mom just informed me lately that I wanted to be a professional basketball player at one point – I am NOT a tall person.

  1. What was the last piece of new music that really blew you away?

Georgia Spiropoulos: EROR (The Pianist), performed by Alvise Sinivia. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve watched the recording over and over again. It’s described as a “fantasmagoria” for a pianist-improviser-performer, electronics, lights, and animated shadows.

  1. What would currently be playing if we were to turn on your phone’s music player?

Quite the broad spectrum! Recently played, in order: some French dance pop by Yelle, Mendelssohn Octet, Princess Nokia, followed by the Enno Poppe album by ensemble mosaik.

  1. What book are you reading at the moment?

“A Brief History of Curating” – Hans-Ulrich Obrist

  1. Favourite breakfast food?


  1. Dream vacation?

It’s an endless list – this world has so many incredible things to offer. Lately, I’ve wanted to visit Japan, Patagonia, and Egypt.

  1. Name your favourite key, chord, tonality or cluster?

I love all the notes! If we’re in a tonal mood, I have a soft spot for G Minor.


Zesses Seglias – Sssssh (2006) [Fender Rhodes]

Congratulations to the Six Young Artists invited to participate in TPL’s Inaugural Composers’ Symposium 2020

We are thrilled to welcome these six young artists – elected through competitive process – to participate in The Piano Lunaire’s Inaugural Composers’ Symposium 2020, January 17-19.  

Clockwise from top left: Dylann MillerPaul Alexander LessardEunseon YuChristopher McAteerTom Weeks and Michael Maevskiy.

Each composer will be creating a new work* for solo piano, in mentorship with Christopher Mayo.  These six new pieces will be premiered by Stephanie Chua and Adam Sherkin at a MainStage performance on Sunday January 19, 2020 in Toronto – STAY TUNED!

Announcing the inaugural PIANO LUNAIRE COMPOSERS’ SYMPOSIUM in 2020


THE PIANO LUNAIRE is a contemporary classical music organization based in Toronto, pursuing the presentation of artistic excellence in the 21st Century.  The company’s portfolio is three-fold: we produce monthly full moonperformances, house a record label, and collaborate with the Canadian musical community at large, in capacity of both fundraising and pedagogical platform.

Correspondingly, our mission comprises three mandates: 1) to present new, dynamic and piano-centric music from the last fifty years to present; 2) to give voice to emerging professionals in the vibrant scene that is Toronto’s musical ecosystem and; 3) to offer audiences a direct, challenging and ultimately supportive concert experience, as they engage with the music of today and the artists of the future.

THE PIANO LUNAIRE provides patronage-tiers for multiple types of concert goer: “Moon Stages” (house concerts seven nights a season); “Main Stages” (Gala shows in elegant spaces three nights a year); “Blue Stages” (Pop-up alternative events in unusual settings, 2 nights a year).

As a new initiative, we look forward to an inaugural workshop for emerging composers. This will prove a dynamic setting for collaboration and educational experience in the craft of composing for solo piano.


The Piano Lunaire: Composers’ Symposium 2020

The Piano Lunaire invites composers who self-identify as early career to apply to
their inaugural Symposium. Looking for a quick immersion into the craft of solo
piano writing? Then consider applying to this workshop! Mentoring with composer
Christopher Mayo, pianists Adam Sherkin and Stephanie Chua, participants in this
intensive weekend symposium will: 1) improve technical skills for contemporary
piano writing (approx. 3 – 8 minutes in length); 2) support composers’ concepts
and ideas in the development of best practice, and: 3) help realize these ideas
through performance.

Minimum age requirement is 18 years and up. The six selected composers
will work with the mentors in three stages:

1. An individual 30-minute video session (Skype call) with Christopher Mayo to take
place late October.

2. An individual 30-minute video session with Adam Sherkin or Stephanie Chua to
take place in late November.

3. Intensive group sessions (Saturday) and a public performance of all works
(Sunday evening), weekend of January 18-19, 2020 in Toronto.*

During the two-day weekend intensive, composers and mentors will participate in
group discussions and presentations of all six new works. The world premiere
performances will be open to the public and recorded live.

* Please note that we are unable to provide for participants’ travel and
accommodation; however, we would be happy to provide a letter of support
towards application of travel grants and bursaries.

Thank you to The Canadian Music Centre for sponsoring the inaugural Composers’ Symposium


Application Process:

1. Submit a document (PDF format) with approximately 100 – 150 words answering
the two following questions: What is your previous experience in writing for the
piano? And: How do you feel you would benefit from this workshop at this point in
your studies/development/career?

2. Submit two works with scores and sound files/links. (It is not necessary to
include the piano but strongly encouraged).

3. Submit a one-page C.V.

4. Application fee: $20 (CAD). This fee solely covers our jurors’ time in assessing
the submitted material.

Deadline: Friday, September 27th at 12:00 midnight (EDT). Selected composers
for the 2020 Symposium will be notified in early October. An $80 (CAD) workshop
fee will be required at this time.

Submit this at the following ONLINE FORM.

Any enquiries can be emailed to:


Biographies of Mentors:

Christopher Mayo (b. 1980) is a Toronto-based composer of orchestral, chamber,
vocal and electronic music. Christopher’s works have been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles worldwide, including London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, London Sinfonietta, Crash Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Aurora Orchestra, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble contemporain de Montreal and Manchester Camerata where he was the Composer-in-Residence from 2012-13. Christopher has taught composition and orchestration at Wilfred Laurier University, McMaster University, and Royal Holloway University of London, as well as leading composition workshops for organizations including the National Youth Orchestra of  Great Britain and Aldeburgh Young Musicians.


Stephanie Chua is an expressive and versatile pianist devoted to presenting and performing contemporary works through musical insight and innovative programming. She has performed in solo and chamber recitals across Canada, Europe and Asia. Recent highlights include a performance at Shanghai New Music Festival and as a featured performer in Soundstreams’ ’Six Pianos’ Main Stage concert at Koerner Hall (Toronto). Stephanie has commissioned and premiered over 60 works for and with piano in her work as part of junctQín keyboard collective, in duo with violinist Véronique Mathieu, and as a soloist. She has worked as a teaching artist in Contact Contemporary Music’s ‘Music from Scratch’, Continuum in the Classroom, and given lectures on contemporary techniques and keyboard repertoire at the University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario. Stephanie’s contemporary repertoire encompasses major solo works of Helmut Lachenmann, Franco Donatoni, and  Rebecca Saunders to those with multi-media and live electronics by Nicole Lizée and Karlheinz Essl.


Pianist/Composer Adam Sherkin has performed at significant venues throughout
Canada, the United States and Britain, enjoying recent premieres of his works in
Mexico, The Netherlands and Vietnam. In addition to maintaining a private
teaching studio for over fifteen years, Sherkin has been featured as guest lecturer
at Mount Allison University (Sackville), University of Guelph and the Royal
Conservatory (Toronto), among others. His solo repertoire includes music from the
Baroque to present-day, with a specialization in music from North America,
including his own. He has worked extensively with new music ensembles, International vocalists and contemporary chamber groups on a regular basis. In 2018, he founded The Piano Lunaire, a Toronto based, not-for-profit organization that presents monthly performances, houses a record label and collaborates with the Canadian musical community at large, in capacity of both fundraising and pedagogical platform. @adamsherkin |

COMPOSERS IN PLAY: The piano turned imaginary percussion instrument with Taylor Brook

Taylor BrookCOMPOSERS IN PLAY offers an up-to-date snapshot, particularly in conjunction with a premiere or new artistic collaboration.  Ahead of the upcoming performance June 5, 2019 in Toronto – The Canadian Left Hand Commissioning Project –  Taylor Brook  discusses his new piece for composer/performer Adam Scime: Shaekout.  Taylor sat down with us to offer some thoughts about the piano and a compelling new compositional approach he dubs: Piano as Imaginary Percussion Instrument.)  🎹  Ten Supersonic questions follow.

What are your current thoughts about solo piano music?

It’s hard to eke out something original and stand against the great repertoire for me. There’s the additional issue where my music is quite microtonal, so I cannot rely on the harmonic tools that I’ve developed. For the left-hand piece, my approach was to treat the piano as a kind of imaginary percussion instrument.

I wrote a solo piano piece back in 2009, (it’s alright.)  At the time, I found it very challenging to write for the piano; today, I think I find it even more challenging to do so.  I will often enhance my writing for the piano in an ensemble context with re-tuned piano samples, mixed to give the illusion that the instrument is microtonally tuned.  I have also written some digital piano pieces (re-tuned).

My dream is to write for a piano that I myself can retune.  Microtonality has been such a constant throughout my work: my whole harmonic language is based on it.  I almost feel like I am a beginner again when I write for the piano.  This is the reason I took the particular approach I did in the new piece Shakeout (ie. without any kind of baggage!)


What pianistic effects or concepts were you after in your new left-handed piano piece, Shakeout?

As mentioned before, I tried to think about the piano as an imaginary percussion instrument.  To this end, I severely limited what could be played in terms of pitches and harmonies, instead focusing on rhythmic ideas.

Another thought I’ve had in context of this project: after looking at the list of composers involved in the project, it occurred to me what a beautiful group of works would be created from the cohort.  I thought I’d like to offer something that will contrast and generate interest within the group.

So I wrote a rather “ugly” piece.

It’s not repulsive, just brutal. Of course, it could be a fun little piece in isolation, however not knowing what the other composers wrote, (just knowing their music in a general sense), I thought it might be interesting to produce music that stand outs as well as fitting well within the group.


What might you identity as your favourite or most compelling piano technique, extended or otherwise?

Anything can be compelling in context.


Tell us more about your approach dubbed, “piano as an imaginary percussion.”

This is something that I do often in my work: not necessarily conceiving of a new imaginary instrument, I prefer to frame things in terms of an invented tradition; an alternative reality.
I have written pieces that are vaguely modelled after folk songs but from a folk song “tradition” that does not really exist.  Likewise, with Shakeout, I was proposing: what if the piano was an imaginary percussion instrument, with its own performance history and its own set of idiomatic techniques?   With this as the rubric, I limited myself in a rather extreme way.
Ecstatic Music, a piece I wrote for violin and percussion adapts this approach.  For the violin part, I imagined that the instrument was from some other tradition where the lowest three strings were basically percussive strings.  The only melodies should be played on the high E-string.



1. ​What instrument do you most dislike the sound of?

None really – Marimba can be tough, but I can’t say I really dislike it.


​2. ​What music are you writing at the moment?

Solo for bassoon and electronics for Dana Jessen. Electronic music. And a piece for TAK ensemble (soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, and percussion) with electronics.


3. ​Name three other composers you’d share a drink with.

Adam Scime!


4. Favourite performing artist alive and active today?

Not sure – I need to get out more!


​5. ​What did you want to be when you grew up?

Too late.


​6. ​What was the last piece of new music that really blew you away?

Mouthpiece by Erin Gee.


​7. ​Name your favourite key, chord, tonality, cluster or extra musical noise.

11/8 with 6/5 (ie. the 11th overtone mixed with the just minor 3rd).


8. ​ What book are you reading at the moment?

Music in the 17th and 18th Centuries by Richard Taruskin (brushing up for my teaching).


​9. ​ Favourite breakfast food?

A Croissant.


​10. ​(Summer) dream vacation?

Smithers, B.C.


Extra question: ​Name your favourite Montreal haunt.

Patati Patata


Facebook Event: Canadian Left Hand Commissioning Project, here

ADVANCE TICKETS at: Canadian Music Centre