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Piano Landscapes – Xenia Pestova Bennett

Friday, March 12 @ 8pm

Livestream Link:

(Note: If you miss the premiere you can still view the recorded concert at the livestream link.)

A “powerhouse of contemporary keyboard repertoire” (Tempo Magazine), pianist Xenia Pestova Bennett is well-known to Canadian audiences. Xenia’s current project centres on the piano works of Ontario microtonal composer and instrument builder Gayle Young. 


Gayle Young – As Trees Grow for piano and live electronics (with Ed Bennett, live electronics)

Gayle Young – Ice Creek and Ice Creek High for piano and fixed media

Gayle Young – Forest Ephemerals, selections: movement 4. Trillium, 5. Jack-in-the-Pulpit, 6. Perennial Ephemerals

Ed Bennett – Out of Nowhere for piano and live electronics (with Ed Bennett, live electronics)



Gayle Young

Gayle Young composes for orchestral instruments and three instruments she designed and built to facilitate the use of unusual tunings. Her music has been heard in concerts and films, sound installation and site-specific performances that engage the listener/viewer directly. The tuned resonators heard in Ice Creek were first developed by Young in a sound installation produced during a residency and outdoor exhibition in Alma, Quebec. 

At Toronto’s York University Young studied with David Rosenboom, Richard Teitelbaum, and James Tenney, among others. She published many articles about  contemporary music as the editor of Musicworks Magazine from 1987 to 2006, and researched and wrote The Sackbut Blues, the biography of electronic music inventor Hugh Le Caine, and produced a CD of his recordings. She has recorded works by Yoko Ono and John Cage, and was one of the first to earn a Deep Listening Certificate after studying Pauline Oliveros’s practice. She has closely integrated listening within her compositions, developing a unique notation that includes texts within the scores of her compositions.

Young participates regularly in festivals and residencies around the world. Her composition and research have been funded by prestigious Canadian and International Organizations, both public and private. Her 2020 Punch, completed in collaboration with Reinhard Reitzenstein, is featured in No Hay Banda’s Fluxus Online Project, as part of Suoni Per Il Popolo Redux: 6.


Xenia Pestova Bennett

Xenia Pestova Bennett is an innovative performer and educator. Described as “a powerhouse of contemporary keyboard repertoire” (Tempo), “stunning” (Wales Arts Review), “ravishing” (Pizzicato) and “remarkably sensuous” (New Zealand Herald) in the international press, she has earned a reputation as a leading interpreter of uncompromising repertoire alongside masterpieces from the past.

Xenia’s commitment to promoting music by living composers inspired her to commission dozens of new works and collaborate with major innovators in contemporary music. Her widely acclaimed recordings of core piano duo works of the Twentieth Century by John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen with Pascal Meyer are available on four CDs for Naxos Records. Her evocative solo debut of premiere recordings for the Innova label titled “Shadow Piano” was described as a “terrific album of dark, probing music” by the Chicago Reader. Xenia’s own compositions are available on Diatribe Records and TakuRoku. Her full-length album “Atomic Legacies” features Ligeti Quartet and the Magnetic Resonator Piano. Highlighted in Bandcamp’s “Best of Contemporary Classical” in 2020, the album was described as “boldly conceived and brilliantly realised… a foretaste of things to come” in The Wire, “intoxicating, extraordinarily eerie and evocative” (Bernard Clarke, RTE LyricFM), “melancholy… heart-swells and proper feelings” (The Quietus) and “a nuclear musical reaction that produces that great, irradiated beauty” (Tom Service, BBC Radio 3). Xenia’s subsequent digital EP “Atonal Electronic Chamber Music for Cats” takes an unexpected turn-around, using vintage synthesizers in an exploration of 1990’s techno-art-pop nostalgia.

Past projects include commissioning and performing in Arlene Sierra’s “Urban Birds” at the Southbank Centre (with Kathleen Supove and Sarah Nicolls, recorded for BBC Radio 3 and available on NMC Records), burning a piano with Annea Lockwood in Wales, instigating and performing in the World Toy Piano Summit at Festival Rainy Days in Luxembourg (with Margaret Leng Tan and others), designing cutting-edge digital musical instruments at McGill University and collaborating on a new digital version of the analogue electronic processing required for Karlheinz Stockhausen’s epic masterwork “Mantra”. Xenia is a Schoenhut toy piano concert artist and has championed many new works for this instrument.


Ed Bennett

Irish composer Ed Bennett was born in Bangor, Co.Down. His music, which has been described in the press as ‘anarchic’ (Irish Times), ‘manic’ (Classical Music) and ‘thrilling’ (Gramophone) is often characterised by its strong rhythmic energy, extreme contrasts and the combination of acoustic, electronic and multimedia elements; it was recently described in The Guardian as ‘unclassifiable, raw-nerve music of huge energy and imagination’ and by Sinfini Music as ‘one of the most scintillating voices to emerge of late from the British Isles.’ His body of work includes large-scale orchestral works, ensemble pieces, solo works, electronic music, opera, installations and works for dance and film. In 2019 he was awarded the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Major Individual Artist Award, the highest honour awarded to an artist from the region.

He has been commissioned and performed the world over by many diverse artists, ensembles and organisations including the BBC, RTE, PRSF, Music Network, Moving On Music, 2012 Olympics, Integra and the arts councils of England, Ireland and N.Ireland. Noted collaborators and performers of his work include the BBC Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras, the National Orchestra of Belgium, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Ulster Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, Crash Ensemble, Icebreaker, Riga Sinfonietta, Orkest de ereprijs, Fidelio Trio, Berlin Percussion Ensemble, Ensemble SurPlus, Lontano, Concorde, the Smith Quartet, Noszferatu, Ensemble Ars Nova, Garth Knox, Pedro Carneiro, Reinbert de Leeuw, James MacMillan, Darragh Morgan, Mary Dullea, Rolf Hind and Paul Dunmall. His work has been featured in festivals such as Gaudeamus (Amsterdam), Musica Viva (Portugal), Huddersfield, Spitalfields, Bath, City of London, Homecoming (Moscow), Crash, Sonorities, Sonic Circuits (USA), Bourges, the BMIC Cutting Edge Series, Soundings (London/Vienna), News from the UK (South Bank), Integra and at New Music/New Ireland in Carnegie Hall, New York. In 2008 Ed Bennett was the first composer in residence at the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, France.