Stephen Prustman

Stephen Prutsman

Known around the globe as one of the world's finest classical musicians, pianist Stephen Prutsman will be showcasing his compositional talents at the upcoming Edmonton Chamber Music Society's Summer Solstice.

Prustman's composition is an original score penned for the 1924 silent classic Sherlock Jr starring Buster Keaton, performed as part of Intersections: Music for Film and Concert Stage.

“It's just amazing slapstick humour non-stop and there's lots of audience involvement in terms of the musical language,” Prustman says of the film, which will be screened alongside a performance filled with ragtime Charleston, musical jokes and toy instruments to add to the overall playful feel.

Prutsman, who began playing the piano at the age of three, began his venture into composing at age seven when he wrote a story about life in San Francisco in the '60s, when hippies and straights, were at odds. Since then, he's gone on to much more prestigious endeavours, including spending 15 years with the world-renowned Kronos Quartet.

“It's been like going to school,” he says of the experience, which required him to branch out into numerous facets of multicultural music to more political statements, such as a revival of the Jimmy Hendrix version of the Star Spangled Banner during the US invasion of Iraq, originally used as a statement during the Vietnam War. “They've introduced me to many, many different musical languages that I probably wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise.”

While composing music and performing all over the world is Prustman's passion, it is shared with working on quality of life issues for people with autism and support for their families, an issue that hits close to home, as his 11-year-old son is autistic.

“As I say, autism is not awfulism, it's awesomeism, and by just participating in that change in perception will help improve the quality of life for families, in my opinion,” he says, recounting an incident with his son on an airplane, where he was having a no-holds-barred meltdown and Prustman says that as he realized the entire plane was staring at them, he also realized he had stopped caring what other people thought. “That's an enormous gift when you get to that point, when you really don't care what other people think. You just do what you have to do. So many people go through life not getting that, and that's what I mean by the blessings of autism.”

Fri, Jun 22 – Sun, Jun 24
Part of the ECMS Summer Solstice
Convocation Hall, University of Alberta campus, $10 – $50


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