Ste. Rose product takes home top prize at national music competition


Pianist Everett Hopfner of Ste. Rose du Lac took home top prize at the 36th annual Eckhardt-Gramatté national music competition earlier this month.

The 24-year old wowed the crowd with a recital that included a performance of Jerome Kitzke's "Sunflower Sutra", based on the poem by Allen Ginsberg, in which Hopfner had to speak, scream, laugh, sing, and drum on the piano.

"I really felt like I was able to convey my personality in each of the pieces today. I feel like every single scrap of energy I had, I left on the stage," said Hopfner in a release. "The results you have no control over. My priority was just to play to the very best of my ability. And today when I walked off the stage,  I felt that I had done that, and I was thrilled…and I was tired. Very happy and very tired. It was a workout."

"Today is the result of so many years of hard work—not just from me, but also from the people who've always been there to support me. I had such great training at Brandon University with Professor Megumi Masaki. She's the person who really got me hooked into this music."

Hopfner received $10,000, a recital and three-week residency with the Casalmaggiore International Festival in Italy, and a Canadian recital tour in the fall.

The win marks the first time a Manitoban has ever taken top prize in the event in piano.

"It's particularly meaningful that a Manitoban and one of our esteemed graduates of the School of Music won first prize. I'm absolutely thrilled for Everett," said Michael Kim, dean of the School of Music and vice chair of the E-Gré competition board.

"The level of musicianship and artistry at this year's competition was extraordinary. I can't recall having been more inspired or awed by the general level, both of the performers and the jury members and I think it bodes well for the future of piano in Canada," continued Kim. "They've all got a brilliant future."
The jury included internationally acclaimed concert pianists Jon Kimura Parker and Douglas Finch, as well as Brigitte Poulin, a co-founder of Ensemble Transmission, based in Montreal. T. Patrick Carrabré was jury chair.

"We found a winner who is experienced with new music repertoire; he has a deep interest in it. He studied scores from different countries in order to build such an interesting programme," Poulin said. "He's a figure of the future. He will collaborate and develop friendships with composers and I think he's a great ambassador for the competition."

Ever year, a new work is commissioned for the competitors and this year's compulsory piece was "Hallucinations" by Winnipeg composer Randolph Peters.

The City of Brandon prize of $1,000 is awarded for the best performance of the commissioned work.

This year's prize winner was Madeline Hildebrand of Winnipeg, who also placed second in the competition overall, which garnered her another $5,000.  Edward Enman of Halifax took home the $3,000 third prize.

The first and second prize winners have been friends for many years. "I'm really grateful to be a prize winner, but equally valuable are the lasting connections you make with people," said Hopfner. "Because the new music community is vibrant and it's wonderful, and to walk out of here with three new friendships is really special to me."

Hopfner was thrilled with the number of people who turned out to hear him perform.

"I was really touched by the support of the community. I've been out of town now for almost three years, studying in Germany, so to come here and have this reception, seeing so many familiar faces that I didn't expect would come out for this, really made me feel like the local contestant. It just shows you what kind of a community Brandon really is.

"It's been a very special weekend for me; I've loved every minute of it," he continued.

Hopfner has a Neepawa connection as well as local product Wendy Menzies used to teach him piano.


In photo: Everett Hopfner

Photo submitted