In addition to figuring out who’s playing where and when, Baldwin regularly chats with her counterparts in cities such as Ottawa and Montreal.
“What ends up happening is you have all these great artists and it’s all pending what tours pan out, so both the artists and the bookers are trying to put their own puzzles together,” she said.
Helping the Isabel’s cause is that musicians really want to play the venue and not just the other way around.
“When we did (that one), we created a lot of excitement and we were able to attract a lot of new audience members, too,” Baldwin recalled. “It actually just opened up the whole centre, so we decided to do it again.”
The first piece of the Virtuosi Festival puzzle to be put together was Wednesday night’s concert.
“What we try to do is we try to bring in new artists people haven’t seen before as well as reinviting some people,” said Baldwin, who had first approached Orpheus, not Lisiecki, about performing there.
Lisiecki first found fame when he was 15 years old, the same age as piano prodigy Nediak, who performs Oct. 29 and is considered one of the top 10 pianists in his age group. He has already been a featured soloist with the Toronto and Montreal symphonies as well as Kingston’s.
“It’s phenomenal the level of playing that they have at that age.”
In contrast to that concert stands those featuring renowned soprano Measha Brueggergosman (Nov. 12) and pianist Yefim Bronfman (Nov. 23).
“The Fine Arts Quintet wanted to come in, and then we really wanted to invite Stewart Goodyear back. So we were kind of a matchmaker in putting them together,” said Baldwin, who suggested they perform Brahms’ Piano Quintet in f minor together.
Of course, staging a festival of this magnitude costs money, so the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts turned to Bader Philanthropies.
“We can’t go to them every single season,” Baldwin said, “but for this festival and competition, it opens up new audiences and just the ability to attract the artists we were able to attract to the festival was pretty exciting.”
For a festival details, or to buy individual tickets and packages online, go to www.queensu.ca/theisabel.