Alan Fraser: Pianist, Teacher, Author

Alan Fraser: Pianist, Teacher, Author

Alan Fraser - Beginnings

Born in Montreal in 1955 Alan Fraser studied piano but also delved into composition, cello, classical singing and had several stints as a pop musician. Alan’s main pianistic influence was the pioneering research of Phil Cohen who studied alongside Ronald Turini, Andre Laplante and Janina Fialkowska with Yvonne Hubert, who had been Cortot‘s assistant in Paris. Alan spent several years with Cohen after an apprenticeship with two former Cohen students, Alan Belkin and Lauretta Milkman.

Early Orientation Towards the Physical in Piano Technique

Cohen’s profound understanding of the physical, psychological and musical elements of piano technique led Fraser to a new goal: to develop a new approach to piano technique based on the Feldenkrais Method. In 1988 he embarked on a 4-year professional training in the Method, which applies advances in the field of bio-mechanics to neuromotor function – in short, it improves how we move by improving the very learning processes involved in movement.

Move to Yugoslavia

Fraser’s next move was to Yugoslavia in 1990 to collaborate with the acclaimed virtuoso Kemal Gekich. The goal: to synthesize elements of the three main 19th century schools of piano playing (the Russian French and Germanic) with the more recently developed principles of human movement found in Feldenkrais Method, to arrive at a new school of piano playing.

Guest Piano Professorship in Wuhan, China

A decade after he set out for Yugoslavia, Alan Fraser’s unusual odyssey continued in mainland China, where in the millennium year 1999-2000 he worked with the most promising pianistic talents at Wuhan Conservatory of Music. By now his combination of Feldenkrais’s principles of movement with the brilliant practical work of Gekich and Gekic’s teacher Jokuthon Mihailovich was crystallizing into a whole new vision of piano technique.

Publication of The Craft of Piano Playing

Back in Yugoslavia, Alan Fraser finally distilled the fruit of this rich cross-cultural pianistic and pedagogical experience into book form. The Craft of Piano Playing, presenting both a general theory and its practical application in over 60 exercises, was published by Scarecrow Press in 2003. Fraser subsequently released a DVD version of Craft in 2006, a Study Guide in 2009 and published his second major volume, Honing the Pianistic Self-Image in 2010.

Conferences & Seminars

Fraser has presented his work worldwide in a variety of formats and events:

  • Course on Musicians and Health, ISSTIP , Thames Valley University (2001, 2, 3)
  • EPTA UK Annual Conference (2003)
  • Feldenkrais for Pianists and Instrumentalists, Accord Mobile, Paris (2002-5)
  • Awareness Through Movement and Piano, Vertiskos Summer Camp, Greece (2003)
  • Feldenkrais for Pianists and Instrumentalists, Trossingen Hochschule, Germany (2003-7)
  • Feldenkrais Guild Annual Conference, Germany (2006,7)
  • EPTA International Annual Conference, Novi Sad (2008)
  • MTNA-CFMTA Event: Musicians & Wellness: Mind, Body & Spirit, NYC (2008)
  • St. Thomas University Piano Pedagogy Summer Workshops, Minneapolis (2009)
  • World Piano Conference, Novi Sad (2010)
  • Master classes in Nizhny-Novgorod, Russia; the Liszt Academy, Budapest; Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore; the Conservatoire Superieure Nationale de la Musique, Paris; Trinity College London; McGill University, Montreal and many others.

Festival Appearances

Alan Fraser has appeared as guest artist at many music festivals including

  • The Scotia Festival of Music, Halifax, Canada
  • The Wilde Festival of Music, Bracknell, England
  • The Festival International de Musique, Saintes, France
  • The Budva International Summer Festival, Montenegro
  • The Belgrade Summer Music Festival, Yugoslavia
  • The Yugoslav Composers’ Symposium, Sremski Karlovci.

He has broadcast solo recitals and concerto performances on the Yugoslav National Television network and has made numerous recordings for both Yugoslav radio and Radio Canada. The playing on his CD Russian Recital has been acclaimed as “Horowitzian”. Alan Fraser has had prizewinning appearances at the International Composer’s Tribune in Belgrade and the Ibla Grand Prize Competition in Ragusa, Italy, and has given the world premiere of the Trifunovitch Piano Concerto with the Radio Television Belgrade Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared several times at the International Liszt Festival in Hamilton, Ontario. He also has considerable experience as vocal soloist, including ten years with le Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montreal. His compositions include works for piano, several solo songs, a liturgical mass and Magnificat for 8-voice unaccompanied choir and a Missa Brevis for organ and choir.

Prize-Winning Students

He has prepared students for many important international competitions – the Chopin in Warsaw 1995 and 2000, the Liszt in Budapest 1996 and 2001, and the Tchaikowsky in Moscow 1994 and 1998. He prepared Ratimir Martinovich to win 2nd prize in Joplin (Missouri) in 1994, and 1st prize in the F.L.A.M.E. Competition in Paris 1997. Of his students in Wuhan, Xu Hong aged 16 placed among the finalists at the Hamamatsu 2000 and won 1st prize at the Hong Kong 2000 and 3rd prize at the Gina Bachauer 2001, while Tao Chi, also 16, won 4th prize at the Hong Kong 2000.

Alan Fraser is on staff at the Art Academy of the University of Novi Sad, Serbia where he teaches both piano and Feldenkrais Method. He has two daughters, Megan, 23 and Masha, 11.