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Campbell River pianist triumphs at National Piano Competition

Carter Johnson is congratulated by the string members of the internationally acclaimed Gryphon Trio: Analee Patipatanakoon (violin) and Roman Borys (cello). - Photo submitted
Carter Johnson is congratulated by the string members of the internationally acclaimed Gryphon Trio: Analee Patipatanakoon (violin) and Roman Borys (cello).
— image credit: Photo submitted

Campbell River’s outstanding young pianist, Carter Johnson, has returned home from the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations’ National Piano Competition in Regina with arms full of awards.

Chosen as BC’s representative, Carter has a string of accomplishments and awards that are all the more impressive considering he is only 14-years-old.

Seasoned indeed. Beginning piano lessons at age 5, and ever championed by his Gabriola Island grandmother, Lorna Davison, Carter represented the North Island at the Provincial Competition for six consecutive years. He won first place at the 2009 Junior Canadian Provincial competition, and first in both the Ruth Scott Chopin Competition and the prestigious Virginia Graczak Competition in 2010. In 2011, Johnson won first place in the Intermediate Canadian Competition. That same year, he then went on to win the Strathcona Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto Competition, sponsored by Balfe Somers Wealth Management of RBC Dominion Securities.

For the CFMTA’s biannual National Piano Competition event, one competitor from each Canadian province is chosen. Representatives must be students of Registered Music Teachers and must be 24 or under. In this year’s competition, only three competitors—one from Saskatchewan, one from Alberta, and one from British Columbia—were advanced to the final round. Each contestant played for 45 minutes.

After playing pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Hétu in the semifinal round, Carter played Alberto Ginastera’s “Suite de Danzas Criollas, Op. 15”, Chopin’s “Scherzo No. 2, Op. 31”, and “Ballade, Op., 118, No. 3” by Johannes Brahms in the final round.

The adjudicators, Christine Vanderkooy, James Parker, and Kathleen Lohrenz Gable awarded the 2011 National Piano Competition’s first prize to Saskatchewan’s 17-year-old Meagan Milatz, 2nd place (with a prize of $3,000) to British Columbia’s Carter Johnson, and 3rd place to another 17-year-old from Alberta, Quinn Gomez.

Johnson was also awarded the $1,000 Willard Schultz prize for best performance of a Baroque Composition.

“I was just beaming inside,” enthused Johnson, “I was proud and felt blessed to do so well. Grandma gave me the biggest hug—ever!”

A highlight of the July competition was for each finalist to join the string members of the internationally acclaimed Gryphon Trio – Analee Patipatanakoon on violin and Roman Borys on cello – for a performance of Canadian composer David McIntyre’s “Piano Trio No. 1”. McIntyre adjudicated the finalists’ presentation of his trio and chose Carter Johnson as the winner for the Best Performance of the Piano Trio, awarding him a prize of $500.

“You took lots of interpretive risks with my trio,” McIntyre told Carter, “and they paid off!”

– Carol Sheehan, Special to the Mirror

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