Meet Todd Yaniw, Canada's next piano superstar. Yaniw is one of CBC Music's Next! artists for 2013, which is a series that presents eight rising Canadian stars in classical music, recorded for broadcast on CBC Radio 2's In Concert. Below you can learn about Yaniw, watch him perform and read our interview with him.
Yaniw was born in Edmonton but spent much of his childhood in southern Ontario. It seems as though he is destined for stardom, if his credentials are any indication: he began performing with major symphony orchestras at age 13, having already performed four times with the Toronto Symphony, as well as several other top Canadian orchestras; he has toured North America, Europe and Asia, and has been a regular fixture on Canada's summer festival circuit.
Yaniw's education has included performance and artist diplomas from the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory (Toronto) and a master of music from Rice University (Houston). He has studied with James Anagnoson, Jon Kimura Parker and Anton Nel. He now lives south of the border, where he's pursuing doctoral studies in piano performance at the University of Texas at Austin.
Watch CBC's exclusive video of Yaniw's Dec. 18 performance at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto:
We wanted to know more, so we spoke to Yaniw.
What must you do before heading onstage for a performance?
There are a couple of things I do which I think might be somewhat unique to me. First of all, I drink copious amounts of coffee. A lot of fellow musicians think this is a really bad idea, since it can make you jittery or take risks that you might not normally take. I feel that it gives me some reserve energy, especially if I have a long performance ahead of me. One thing that plagues me is that my hands sweat quite a bit — so I have to wipe them, literally, until about 10 seconds before walking onstage.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a professional pianist?
I had the typical dreams of a five-year-old who just watched Top Gun; for a few days I wanted to be a fighter pilot. I played the viola for a while and it was very good for my musical growth, but it would never replace my love for playing the piano.
Who is your favourite composer?
I don’t have one, but if I was forced to only play the music of one composer for the rest of my life, it would probably be Beethoven.
What is the most unusual thing on your iPod?
I don’t actually own one; and as a music student, this seems bizarre. I don’t really like to listen to things on the go; I’d prefer to just sit down and listen. I’m not a good multitasker, as my friends will tell you. Most of what I do listen to is orchestral or classical, but now and then I’ll put on some Frank Sinatra or Duke Ellington.
What is something people may not know about you?
I love cooking. I’m a terrible cook but I enjoy it; I like making it up as I go. I can follow recipes, just like anyone else, but I don’t find it very fun. I also have an interest in audio/video technology and recording. I’m an amateur, but I think it’s nice to have this interest as a musician, because then you can do a bit on your own.
Check out Yaniw's complete CBC Glenn Gould Studio session here.