Biography

Canadian musician and Toronto resident Dr. Lisa Tahara is an acclaimed piano virtuoso who performs as a soloist, chamber musician, collaborative pianist, teacher, and adjudicator. She performs with a heroic drama well beyond her years and continues to captivate her audience and peers alike.

Dr. Tahara began her career by dazzling the audience during her orchestral debut with the Burnaby Symphony Orchestra at the young age of fifteen. Since those beginnings, she was invited to perform with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Quebec Symphony Orchestra. As the winner of several concerto competitions, she performed Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra and also with the University of Victoria Orchestra. In 2013, she performed Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the Westben Festival Orchestra (comprised of musicians from the Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras) and the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra. Most recently, she performed the Grieg Piano Concerto with the Georgian Bay Symphony Orchestra in 2016 and Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra in 2017.

Dr. Tahara’s talents have also earned her several top prizes in festivals and competitions at the local, provincial and national level, including the Canadian Concerto Competition and the Canadian Music Competition. At the National Canadian Registered Music Teachers Association Competition held in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Lisa was awarded 2nd place and the Marek Jablonski Prize for the Best Chopin Performance. Most recently, Lisa was awarded 2nd place and the Paul J. Bourret Prize for Best Performance of the Test Piece in the Shean Piano Competition held in Edmonton, Alberta.

As well as performing solo works, Dr. Tahara thoroughly enjoys displaying her virtuoso talents playing chamber music. Her passion and abilities are as diverse as the audiences she performs for. In 2007, as a result of her many accomplishments, Dr. Tahara completed a long-term artistic residency at the Banff Centre where she was chosen to perform the Schumann Piano Quintet with the renowned Penderecki String Quartet. She was also selected to participate in the 2011 Toronto Summer Music Festival, where she performed in ensembles with guest artists Christopher Costanza and Mark Fewer. In 2012, as a result of the acclaim that she has received and hard-earned reputation as a consummate professional, Dr. Tahara participated in the St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar held in Stanford, California. That same year, she was one of eight pianists chosen for the internationally renowned collaborative piano internship at the Banff Centre. Her success earned her the opportunity to participate in the internship for the second time in the summer of 2014. Having been a member of an award-winning piano trio, she has recently joined with violinist, Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh and cellist, Bryan Holt to form the Amarok Ensemble. In 2014, the Amarok Ensemble performed at Integral House, owned by the late James Stewart and most recently, they performed at the Bing Recital Hall in June 2015 upon recommendation by the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Most recently, the Amarok Ensemble was in Ottawa for the inaugural Career Development Residency during the 2016 Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival.

In the last decade, Dr. Tahara’s musical studies have taken her across Canada and Europe. After obtaining her Bachelors of Music degree at the University of Victoria, Lisa completed her Masters of Music degree with honours in performance at the University of Toronto. In November 2015, she received her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Toronto in performance & pedagogy with Drs. Jamie Parker, Henri-Paul Sicsic and Midori Koga. Additionally, Lisa has studied with MayLing Kwok, Dr. Robin Wood, James Olsen and Kirill Bolshakov. Lisa has also performed in masterclasses across Canada, the US and Europe for internationally well-known artists such as Emanuel Ax, Malcolm Bilson, Janina Fialkowska, Richard Goode, Anton Kuerti, Lee Kum-Sing, John Perry, Menahem Pressler, Andras Schiff, and Colin Tilney. As a recipient of the David & Martha Beach scholarship, and a two-time recipient of the Johann Strauss Scholarship, Dr. Tahara was invited to spend three summers studying in Europe; at the Mozarteum Summer Academy in Salzburg with Andrzej Jasinski, Robert Levin and Sergio Perticaroli and at the Wiener Musikseminar in Vienna with Rudolph Kehrer.

Although her list of awards and accomplishments are long, Dr. Tahara always takes the opportunity to pursue her passion as a performer and has continued to enthral audiences as a collaborative pianist. She worked with the Hart House Chorus between 2012 and 2013 and since 2013, she has been the pianist for the primary and junior children’s choirs at Montcrest Private School. Dr. Tahara has also performed with Toronto’s Contemporary Vespera Women’s Ensemble led by Sarah John between 2011 and 2013, and has frequently appeared with the Cantala Women’s Ensemble led by Nancy Singla. For Theatre Direct’s 2012 production of Sanctuary Song, an opera composed by Abigal Richardson-Schulte, Dr. Tahara was selected to perform as the principal orchestral pianist.

In addition to her passion for performing, Dr. Tahara is equally devoted to teaching. In 2016, she was the advanced level adjudicator for the Merriam Music Festival in Oakville, Ontario. In 2014, she adjudicated the intermediate and senior piano classes at the Kingston Kiwanis Festival. Since 2009, she has been a group class teacher and private instructor for the University of Toronto Children’s Pedagogy Program. Her private students range in age from 5 to 70, and have been awarded many top prizes in local music festivals. Always striving to improve upon her teaching, Dr. Tahara also regularly attends pedagogy seminars, workshops at the Royal Conservatory of Music and conferences including the 2009 World Piano Pedagogy Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dr. Tahara’s interests in music and how it affects quality of life for older adults inspired her to conduct keyboard classes involving improvisation at the Dunfield Retirement Residency in Toronto, Ontario as part of her doctoral dissertation in 2013. Later that year, she was invited by her thesis co-supervisor, Dr. Lee Bartel (Associate Dean of Research at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music), to give a presentation on her research study at the Music Medicine and Quality of Life Symposium as part of the Music and Health Research Collaboratory.