Dream Big: Music Out of Bounds, the first Collaborative Piano Conference ever held in Canada, took place at the University of Manitoba, Feb. 20-22, 2020. This three-day conference was dedicated to celebrating the contributions, creativity, and innovation that collaborative pianists bring to music performance and pedagogy. It was a joyful time of strengthening old friendships and discovering new ones, full of inspiring discussions and music making.

Led by Dr. Jean Barr (Eastman School of Music) and Margo Garrett (Juilliard School), two of the most influential performer-teachers of Collaborative Piano in North America, the conference featured keynote addresses, presentations, panel discussions, public masterclasses, and student and professional performances. 

Inspired by Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the repertoire performed and studied at the conference was music responding to times of war or personal tragedy. Included in the conference was a guided tour of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights specifically designed for our participants.  We visited the Museum exhibits highlighting the themes and events that were the impetus for the music we studied. 

Gathering together in Winnipeg, the centre of the country and the home of this museum, gives us an opportunity to examine our place and influence in the musical world and in the larger society.  

Eight performing groups participated in masterclasses, and the conference culminated in a final performance by these ensembles. These groups were made up of upper-level students and professional groups, encompassing vocal/piano and instrumental/piano duos. 

We used this conference to start discussions about a Canadian-based Society of Collaborative Pianists; a community that supports creativity and commissions new works. We will continue this discussion at our 2024 conference.