Sandra Joy Friesen is a pianist with a broad range of repertoire and musical interests including interpretation of pictorial scores and inter-disciplinary collaboration with artists from other disciplines. A teacher for over two decades, Ms Friesen is passionate about all classical music, with particular sensitivity for Baroque repertoire, French music and contemporary styles. She teaches students of all ages and levels, regularly adjudicates and gives presentations and lecture-recitals. She has studied extended piano techniques, styles and unconventional notation from the 20th Century and has dedicated much of her career to lecture-recitals, presentations and workshops on learning and teaching new music.
Ms Friesen has performed in Austria, Brazil, England, France, the Netherlands, Mexico, Poland, Germany and Slovenia, and has toured throughout Canada and the United States. With an extensive background in chamber music, she has studied and performed art song literature since the 1980s, working early in her career with opera singer Phillip Ens. In 2010, she was invited by director Deen Larsen to be a collaborative pianist at the Franz-Schubert-Institut (Austria) for the Poetry and Performance program. She has served as a collaborative pianist in the Morningside Music Bridge program at the Mount Royal Conservatory, as pianist and music director with the Erato Ensemble (Vancouver, BC), and also specializes in the saxophone/piano repertoire with players in Canada and the U.S. As an original member of the eXperimental improv Music Ensemble (Edmonton) exploring the integration of artistic disciplines, she has collaborated with composers, dancers, actors and visual artists. With visual artist Werner Friesen, she is a partner in RESPONS2 giving interdisciplinary performances and workshops.
A member of the Alberta Registered Music Teachers Association, the Canadian Music Centre, and the Canadian New Music Network, Ms Friesen is a musical voice for Canadian composers. Major awards from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and Edmonton Arts Council allowed her to complete a 2014 recording Sound Reflections, Vol. 1: Off the Shelf — a project of audio plus video recordings providing interpretive context and addressing technical challenges of 20th-21st century music. Her discography also includes Garden of Music (solo piano music by Alain Mayrand), inspired by the poetry of R.L Stevenson with illustrations by Mayrand himself; a two-CD project From the Beginning with flutist Larry Krantz; To the Garden the World by Stephen Chatman (a work she commissioned for saxophone and piano, on the album Earth Songs), numerous works for viola and piano for Morningside Music Bridge, and as pianist for the West Coast Mennonite Chamber Choir on Songs My Father Taught Me by Larry Nickel.
After 16 years of work in British Columbia, Ms Friesen pursued a Doctor of Music degree at the University of Alberta. Among numerous awards, she was a recipient of an Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Scholarship, a President’s Prize of Distinction, a Margaret McWilliams Fellowship from the Canadian Federation of University Women, and in 2012 she completed the degree as a scholar of the Kule Institute for Advanced Studies. Other studies included improvisation with Douglas Finch (London, UK) and French piano music with Paul Roberts (France). She is grateful for the knowledge and inspiration from all her previous piano teachers: Jacques C. Després, Jane Coop, Douglas Finch, Jean Broadfoot, Walter Thiessen, Kathy Klassen, Alice Cameron, and master-class teachers: Paul Roberts, Marvin Blickenstaff, Stéphane Lemelin, Bruce Vogt, Catherine Vickers, Marek Jablonski, Richard Goode, and Leon Fleisher. She also holds degrees from the University of British Columbia (Master and Bachelor of Music) and Canadian Mennonite University (Bachelor of Church Music).
Dr. Friesen served as Visiting Assistant Professor for St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN from 2013-15 and is now settled in Calgary teaching from her Hawkwood NW studio, as an Off-Campus Instructor for the Mount Royal University Conservatory, and coaches chamber music in the University of Calgary School for the Creative and Performing Arts.