Sandra Joy Friesen pianist
Sandra Joy Friesenpianist

Performer, Teacher, Clinician, Adjudicator

Sandra Joy Friesen is a pianist with a broad range of repertoire and musical interests, from traditional to contemporary, to interpretation of pictorial scores and interdisciplinary collaboration. She has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout Canada, in the United States, in Austria, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Mexico, Poland, and Slovenia. As a music educator since 1992, Sandra Joy has studied the developments in piano techniques, styles and aesthetics from the past century and has dedicated a large part of her career to lecture-recitals, presentations and workshops on contemporary music. After 16 years of professional work in British Columbia, she pursued doctoral studies at the University of Alberta. In 2009, her studies in improvisation and free-interpretation with Douglas Finch (London, England) became a turning point in her musical artistry, and this practice continues to be a source of inspiration. During this time, she and visual artist Werner Friesen began interdiscipinary performance blending music with live-response painting, and became members of the "eXperimental improv Music Ensemble" in Edmonton, AB, integrating artistic disciplines with composers, dancers, and actors. As a collaborative duo, RESPONS2, they continue the interdisciplinary activity in performance and in workshops for college/university students.

Receiving major awards from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and Edmonton Arts Council allowed her to complete her 2014 recording Sound Reflections, Vol. 1: Off the Shelf; a project of audio plus video recordings that provide interpretive context and address the challenges of various technical aspects. It is dedicated to Canadian composers and is available through the Canadian Music Centre. Her discography also includes "Garden of Music" (by composer Alain Mayrand), which is a beautifully edited volume of solo piano music inspired by the poetry of R.L. Stevenson with illustrations by Mayrand himself; a two-CD project "From the Beginning" with flutist Larry Krantz (pedagogy-focused repertoire for flute students), "To the Garden the World" by Stephen Chatman (a work she commissioned for saxophone and piano, on the album "Earth Songs"), and as pianist for the West Coast Mennonite Chamber Choir on the album "Songs My Father Taught Me" (by Larry Nickel).

Another of her musical passions is the French piano music of Claude Debussy, whose works she studied with Jacques Després (University of Alberta) and Paul Roberts (Castelfranc Summer School, France), and continues to regularly perform. With a special sensitivity in art song collaboration, Sandra Joy has studied and performed this vast repertoire for more than two decades, beginning with accompanying opera singer Phillip Ens, and then including residencies at The Banff Centre (Alberta) and the Franz-Schubert-Institute (Austria). With a keen interest in the piano and saxophone repertoire, she has performed at numerous saxophone conferences around the world and continues to work with saxophonists across North America. She is also the pianist for Bent Note Duo with saxophonist Allison Balcetis. Having promoted the music of Canadian composers since the early 90s, Sandra Joy was also invited by the Association for Canadian Studies in Mexico (2008) and in Brazil (2009) to represent the University of Alberta and Canadian composers in solo piano recitals. 

Sandra Joy completed the Doctor of Music degree in 2012 as a scholar of the Kule Institute for Advanced Studies, and holds degrees from the University of British Columbia (Master and Bachelor of Music) and Canadian Mennonite University (Bachelor of Church Music). She has received major awards for her work from numerous Canadian organizations, including the University of Alberta, the Government of Canada, Canadian Federation of University Women (National), Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the city of Edmonton. Sandra Joy is grateful for the knowledge and inspiration from all her piano teachers: Jacques Després, Jane Coop, Douglas Finch, Jean Broadfoot, Walter Thiessen, Kathy Classen, Alice Cameron, and master-class teachers: Paul Roberts, Marvin Blickenstaff, Leon Fleisher, Richard Goode, Marek Jablonski, Catherine Vickers, Bruce Vogt and Stéphane Lemelin.

Dr. Friesen was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Piano in the Department of Music at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota from 2013-2015. She has joined the Mount Royal University Conservatory in Calgary, Alberta, as an Off-campus instructor, teaching music out of her  Sound Reflections Music Studio in the Hawkwood NW area, and also coaches chamber music at the University of Calgary. 

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© Sandra Joy Friesen