It is with great sadness that we have learned of the recent passing of Michel Szczesniak, who taught for many years at CAMMAC. We offer our deepest condolences to his wife Gisèle Dalbec, his children Lev, Antoine, Gabriel and Sophie (Jeff) and his mother Dorothea.
Michel studied piano and chamber music studies with Jeaneane Dowis, Martin Canin, Seymour Lipkin and Artur Balsam, and earned degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Prior to emigrating to Canada in1983, Michel was the pianist for the vocal studio of Adele Addison in Manhattan and the Aspen Music Festival, and on a chamber music fellowship at the Waterloo Festival, New Jersey where he met violinist Gisèle Dalbec, his partner in life and in music.
Michel’s extensive career as a pianist included concerto appearances with the Winnipeg, Victoria, and Kingston Symphony Orchestras, the Aspen Festival Orchestra and CBC solo and chamber music recital broadcasts. His work as a solo pianist was also featured in conjunction with productions by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Banff Festival Ballet.
Michel premiered a number of new and lesser-known Canadian works in concert and on recording including two self-produced compact discs: Bow & Ivory and Notes to Myself, both featuring his own compositions. Further to his work as a composer, Michel was an Associate of the Canadian Music Centre, having had works premiered by the Kingston Symphony Orchestra and in recital as part of the School of Music Faculty Artists Series, as well as performing in a recital of his piano music for New Music Kingston at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.
In addition to his career as a performer, Michel was a piano instructor at the Queen’s University School of Music, pianist for the Kingston Chamber Players and accompanist for the Cantabile Choirs of Kingston.
Michel and Gisèle were greatly appreciated during the many years that they taught at the CAMMAC Music Centre (Week 6). Michel is fondly remembered and will be very much missed by his CAMMAC colleagues and friends.
Excellent pianist, wonderful musician, inspired composer, Michel will remain in my memory as kind, supportive and hilarious. – Elizabeth Little
Those who knew Michel through his stellar contribution to the CAMMAC musical organization, and the summer camp at Lake MacDonald deeply miss him. His sense of humour during master class and his ability to joke with musical improvisation, added another dimension to our singing experience. His piano solo compositions were exciting and dynamic. Michel, you were a gentle soul and we love you. Rest in peace. Your CAMMAC friends, especially those from Week 6. – BrendaLee Wilson