Award-winning pianist Megumi Masaki is known not only for her dynamic temperament, “riveting and mind-expanding” (Fréttabladid 2013) performances and warm rapport with audiences, but also for the breadth and innovation of her artistic activity. Megumi is a pianist who specializes in the performance of Canadian music and new works. She is especially interested in exploring how sound, image, text and movement can be integrated in live multimedia performance and how the creative application of new technologies and approaches can expand how concert music is created, performed and received. She frequently collaborates on interdisciplinary projects with new technologies to enhance a dynamic interaction between creator and performer.
Numerous piano, multimedia (with interactive and fixed electronics, interactive and fixed visuals, and gesture tracking), and chamber works have been composed specifically for and in collaboration with Megumi and she has premiered over 70 works worldwide. One highlight, Hitchcock Études by Nicole Lizée commissioned and performed by Megumi Masaki was recently selected to represent Canada at the ISCM World Music Days in Poland 2014.
Megumi is a member of the Noiseborder Ensemble which has presented more than 20 original multimedia pieces featuring a combination of acoustic and electronic instruments as well as live processing and mixing of sound and video. She is also a member of the Slingshot-Kidõ that explores the creation of works involving a theatrical-dance-gestural-electroacoustic interdisciplinary approach to piano “shows” for traditional and non-traditional performance spaces.
Megumi has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician with distinguished artists including the Penderecki Quartet, Borealis Quartet, Gewandhaus Orchestra soloists, Shauna Rolston, Yuri Hooker, Paul Marleyn, Oleg Pokhanovski, Koh Gabriel Kameda, and Valdine Anderson. Megumi has recently performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia in such venues as the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, National Art Gallery Ottawa, National Arts Centre Ottawa, Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music Paris (IRCAM), Royal Academy of Music’s Discovery & Development Series, CoLab Festival Trinity Laban London, Royal College of Music, Elmwood Hall Belfast, Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music in Belfast, Dark Music Days Festival in Reykjavik, Chetham’s International Piano Festival Manchester, Philam Life Theatre Manila, Okazaki Concert Hall Japan, Chengdu Concert Hall China, Roter Saal Mainz, Eric Ericson Hall Sweden, Cultural Olympiad Utah, National Museum of Women in Arts Washington, D.C., the Alte Oper Frankfurt, Fox Fine Arts Centre El Paso, Windsor Canadian Music Festival, Regina New Music Festival, Kelowna Chamber Music Series, GroundSwell and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra New Music Festival.
Devoted to the advancement of Manitoba composer Eckhardt-Gramatté’s music, Megumi has recorded CDs of her piano works and the complete works for violin and piano duo with violinist Oleg Pokhanovski, and has published a critical performance edition of her Piano Caprices. She made her film debut in “Appassionata: The Extraordinary Life and Works of Eckhardt-Gramatté” by Paula Kelly for CBC’s Opening Night.
Megumi is frequently recorded for national broadcast by the CBC and in Germany by HR. She has received numerous awards from the Canada Council, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Manitoba Arts Council, SSHRC and won the Willi-Daume Prize from the National Olympic Committee Germany for her multidisciplinary project “Music and the Olympic Games.”
Community engagement and collaboration is a major priority for Megumi. In partnership with rural Manitoba arts associations, schools and retirement homes, in 2007 she founded a bi-annual education outreach project entitled “Masaki’s Rising Stars,” offering performances and workshops to rural Manitoba communities where interaction with music, especially Canadian and new music is limited. Megumi and “Masaki’s Rising Stars” have performed for hundreds of school children, seniors and local audiences, has helped raise awareness and funds for specific music needs of rural communities, and has provided pedagogical and performance workshops for many local teachers and young piano students. Megumi also performs in numerous community-oriented concerts at Brandon University and the area, for the International Red Cross, Knox United Church in Winnipeg and the Japanese-Canadian Cultural Association.
Since 2006, Megumi is the Artistic Director of the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, the most important contemporary music competition for exceptional emerging Canadian performing artists. Megumi has served as peer evaluator and member of the scientific committee for the London International Piano Symposium, the International Society for the Study of Tension in Performance, the Juno Awards, Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council, Canadian and American universities for academic awards, tenure and promotion external reviews, and as juror for regional and national competitions. Megumi has served as the acting-Canadian representative for the European Piano Teacher’s Association and in Germany was a member of the Deutsches Pierre de Coubertin Komitee. Megumi is an elected member of the Arts Advisory Panel for the Manitoba Arts Council and elected voting member of the Canadian Music Centre – Prairie Region.
Megumi is also recognized as an innovative teacher whose students have established successful performing and teaching careers. She is dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of training students for the rigors inherent in music careers. Through interdisciplinary research since 2001, she has developed a holistic approach to teaching: “Training Pianists as Athletes: A Basic Training Method for Optimal Performance,” resulting in invitations to present at leading international conferences.
Megumi is in demand to give masterclasses at universities worldwide, is on faculty since 2009 at the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy (founded in partnership with the Oberlin Conservatory USA) and alongside renowned pianists including Peter Donohoe, Joanna Macgregor, Nelita True was invited to the faculty at the Chetham’s International Festival for Pianists in Manchester UK.
Megumi is Professor of Piano at Brandon University in Canada and director of the Brandon University New Music Ensemble and annual New Music Festival. She has brought internationally recognized composers, visual and performing artists from Mexico City, Reykjavik, Windsor, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal to Brandon to give public lectures, workshops and presentations on and off campus. Her success in teaching was recognized with the 2010 Brandon University Alumni Association’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.