Tickling the Ivories and Inspiring Students


Edmonton pianist Sylvia Shadick-Taylor is adjudicator for senior piano at the upcoming Rotary Music Festival in Whitehorse.

Known for her diverse talents, she excels as a soloist, yet is equally comfortable as a chamber musician, accompanist and teacher. As a soloist, Shadick-Taylor has a strong interest in contemporary music.

Premiering many Canadian and American works, she has performed in Canada and the United States, including her highly successful New York concert debut in 1997.

She has also performed as a chamber musician with many ensembles.

Recent performances include concerts in Canada, Thailand, Germany, France, Japan and a performance at Carnegie Hall and Weill Recital Hall, in New York City, with Hungarian violinist Nándor Szederkényi.

A popular accompanist, she adeptly spans opera classics to demanding contemporary concert repertoire and her work can frequently be heard on CBC Radio.

Shadick-Taylor works as a private teacher, vocal coach, adjudicator and clinician and has worked for the University of Alberta, the Edmonton Opera, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Alberta College and Pro Coro Canada.

Shadick-Taylor has released three CDs on the Arktos label: Caprice, Intimate Impressions and At Your Service, which focuses on the art of accompanying.

She can also be heard on several other CDs, including Northern Arch, soundland alberta and Lucidae.

Each of the six adjudicators was asked for a definition of their role.

“In my mind, adjudication means giving a student a critical assessment of their pianistic progress, both technically and interpretively. Through the repertoire they present, I can note for them which areas are developing well and those which I would suggest need their attention next.

“I have always enjoyed adjudicating because it gives me a chance to discuss these details directly with the students in a more personal and friendly manner than examinations can offer.

“Other students, parents and teachers can also learn from these comments and suggestions since the advice is given in an open public forum.

“Adjudicating at festivals is also an excellent chance for me to grow professionally since I can discover new repertoire and new ideas about repertoire from the local teachers.

“I began piano lessons at an early age [age four] in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. My parents were not musicians, themselves, but they had a strong interest in music and were avid concertgoers.

“I got quite seriously ‘hooked’ by it all, thanks to a thriving music scene in Saskatoon.

“I joined a junior strings program at about age eight [violin] and then, soon after, a youth orchestra.

“I was also involved in choirs and, later, in voice lessons, a chamber orchestra, a string quartet and a school band program [flute].”

If she hadn’t pursued a musical career, what would she have done instead?

“As you can tell, I pretty much ate and breathed music for most of my life. I never really considered any other career path.

“I might have followed a different stream within music, though, if my current performance and teaching choices hadn’t proved successful.”

This column is an introduction to adjudicators and is courtesy of the Rotary Music Festival, which will be held April 16 to 25.

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