Pianist; Composer of Résonances Boréales
2018 Performer

Montreal, Quebec

Roman Zavada is a self-taught Ukrainian and Québécois-born pianist whose creative direction is based on instinct, spontaneity, and improvisation.

His first experiences with the piano go back to early childhood. He was born to the instrument, which quickly became his favoured means of expression. Raised on the piano playing of his mother, who taught the instrument at home and in university, he penned his first piano composition at the tender age of 4. He then undertook conservatory studies but quickly realised that this approach to learning was not suited to him. He much preferred reinventing the pieces he was being forced to play. It was a sign of the kind of path Zavada was about to embark on: atypical, self-taught, and dedicated to experimentation.

Towards the end of his teenage years, on the cusp of adulthood, he was getting to know his way around a stage, developing a real passion for showmanship and improvisation. Following the release of Terre de feu and Nuit des temps, two more traditional self-produced albums, he took on an exciting and unusual responsibility: replacing Gabriel Thibodeau, the Cinémathèque québécoise silent film accompanist.

This was a real turning point in his career, pointing the way towards his future: to improvise musical narration in real-time in such a way that the musical notes of the soundtrack seem part and parcel to the film. Repeating the experience in venues across the entire province of Quebec, he quickly garnered a public and critical reputation as a silent film accompanist.

The pianist’s Du cinéma muet au piano parlant show was devoted to breathing new life into the silver screen classics of the past. He now returns to his personal compositions with an all-new large-scale project: Résonances boréales. His goal? To continue exploring the dialog between piano and images, this time substituting silent films with aurora borealis in motion in the night sky. And especially, to put his creativity to the test in an environment that is anything but mundane: the Northwest Territories’ boreal forest. This very particular initiative – with no equivalent in the entire world – will lead to a new album and immersive 360 degree performance experience in February 2016. Through these two daring, authentic productions, Zavada continues like no other to push the limits of the piano, his only true mother tongue.