About the author

Neil Martinez is a Canadian pianist, organist, clarinettist and improviser.  He has appeared as a soloist and collaborative artist praised for his thoughtful interpretations, exquisite touch, and outstanding technique. 

His versatility as a musician is evidenced by diverse credits ranging from recitals, chamber music, choral music, church music, accompaniment, music theatre, multidisciplinary work, teaching, research, score engraving and recording.  He has appeared as a pianist in Orff’s Carmina Burana under the direction of Lisette Canton.  As well, he has performed on stage at Yonge-Dundas Square as part of the New Music Marathon.  Additionally, Neil has appeared at Arraymusic, Tranzac, and The Music Gallery as member of Diapason, an ensemble dedicated to improvisation and new music. 

Neil has studied with concert pianists Alma Petchersky, Antonin Kubalek, and Christina Petrowska Quilico. Furthermore, he studied organ with Karen Rymal, piano accompanying with Raisa Nakhmanovich, piano literature and pedagogy with Cecilia Ignatieff, chamber music with Kim Chow-Morris, and conducting with Alan Gasser.  Neil also studied clarinet with Enrico Galante, and has performed as a clarinetist in numerous wind ensembles including the York University Wind Symphony.  He has been a participant at numerous masterclasses including organ improvisation with Rachel Laurin, and was an invited participant to a piano and organ improvisation masterclass with Joachim Segger. 

In addition to performing the standard classical repertoire, Neil is an enthusiastic supporter of New Music and Canadian composers, and has been involved in the premiere performances of several Canadian compositions.  He also has a passion for exploring obscure, neglected and unusual music and sharing in his discoveries.  Moreover, church music forms a large part of Neil’s musical activities.  He has served as a church pianist, organist and musical director, all of which contributed in shaping his diverse musicianship.

As an improviser, Neil has been highly commended for his skill in the art.  He continually participates in a wide variety of projects and recordings, has been invited to give workshops on improvisation, and is a member of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto (AIMT).  Neil is interested in expanding the boundaries of traditional performance and the possibilities of the instrument, and often employs extended instrumental techniques.  Praise for his improvisations include “clarity of texture,” “use[s] the whole piano at once in a wall of sound but all the registers of the piano are always very clear,” “enviable coherency of development in the matter of phrase and chord,” and being “highly creative and evocative.”

A need for documentation of his music led Neil to an interest in the recording arts.  He has spent many hours in studio studying and practicing this craft, both as a technician and musician.  Recording is especially important to Neil’s work in improvisation.  He has also recognized the pedagogical merits of recording, and employs it in his teaching.  On-location concert recording also forms a significant part of his work.  In addition to acting as a recording technician in many of his own live performances, Neil has also recorded for numerous professional musicians and ensembles.  Several of his recordings have captured world premieres of musical works. 

Neil is an Honours BFA graduate of York University.  He took up piano in childhood and quickly progressed through the RCM grades to performing advanced level repertoire in a matter of a few years with support from a musical family.  Neil’s graduate school research focused on the music and improvisations of Messiaen.

Neil has received numerous awards over the years including those from festivals, competitions, and awards for academic excellence in achieving the highest mark within a music grade level. While studying at York University Neil won the Nancy Scoular Underhill Piano Award for exceptional promise and ability in classical piano. Additionally, he is a two time recipient of the Patricia and Robert Martin Award for outstanding achievement in adjudicated performance, as well as a two time recipient of the Thomas W. Doherty Prize in Piano for outstanding performance of a contemporary work for piano.