Kortgaard has been in the role for 25 years
February 13, 2023 (Kataganek/Kensington, PEI) After over two decades of curating unforgettable performances at Historic St. Mary’s, Robert Kortgaard has announced he will step down as Under the Spire Music Festival’s (USMF) Artistic Director.
Kortgaard has been actively involved with USMF since its early days, serving as its Artistic Director for 25 of the 28 years the Festival has been running. His first connection with the Festival was as a performer in a 1998 concert with New Brunswick soprano Wendy Nielsen. The following year, USMF founder Mary Pendergast asked Kortgaard to help with the Festival’s artistic development, which eventually led to the start of his tenure as Artistic Director. Notably, Kortgaard was responsible for curating Midsummer Magic, a weekend long celebration of classical music that continues to this day.
Pianist Robert Kortgaard was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and grew up in Calgary, Alberta. He completed his Bachelor and Master’s degrees at the Juilliard School in New York City. As a recipient of arts awards from the Canada Council, he furthered his musical studies in Italy and England. Kortgaard has performed as a soloist with major Canadian orchestras and has given recitals throughout Canada and the United States, as well as in England, Finland, Portugal, Italy, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, China and Japan. He is a favourite collaborator of many of Canada’s finest instrumental soloists, vocalists and chamber groups. His performances are frequently heard on CBC Radio, and he has recorded for the Centrediscs, Marquis Classics/EMI, CBC Records, Teldec and ATMA Classique labels.
“My time at Under the Spire Music Festival has been a beautiful journey, and one for which I am endlessly grateful,” says Kortgaard. “These past 25 years as the Festival’s Artistic Director have allowed me to meet incredibly talented artists, work alongside passionate and dedicated music-lovers, and, of course, partake in amazing performances. Live music connects and nourishes us all, and opportunities to come together as a community are more important than ever. I look forward to enjoying the phenomenal experience of a concert in our acoustically-stunning venue for years to come— both in the pews and on stage!”
“Robert has been pivotal in making the Festival the world-renowned event it is today, and it’s safe to say we wouldn’t be here without him,” says Executive Director, Lindsay Connolly. “He brings thoughtfulness, passion, and expertise to all of his work, and we will uphold his legacy by continuing to present the very best of local, Canadian, and international music in our beloved venue. I hope that everyone who has performed, volunteered, watched a concert, or attended a community event at Historic St. Mary’s will join me in thanking Robert for his contributions to both the Festival and the Island music scene as a whole.”
To help ease the transition, Kortgaard will continue his work with the Festival as Artistic Advisor for the remainder of the year, providing support to Executive Director Connolly and the Programming Committee as they plan the line-up for the upcoming season. Audiences will be able to watch Kortgaard in his last performance as USMF’s Artistic Advisor this summer at the well-known Midsummer Magic taking place between August 4-6. The full 28th season lineup will be announced on March 16th at 11am.