Charissa Vandikas and Linda Ruan, two students of The Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School (GGS), won prizes at the 6th North West International Piano Ensemble Competition (NWIPEC), held in Vancouver from November 23–25, 2018.
The two talented young pianists, who make up the award-winning La Fiammata Piano Duo, won the senior division of the competition, as well as the Audience Choice Award and a prize for the best performance of a work by Claude Debussy. The pair took to Facebook to thank the competition organizers, as well as their fellow competitors, for what they described as a wonderful experience of inspiring music-making.
The awards earned at the NWIPEC are the latest in a series of prizes for Charissa and Linda. In 2017, they were named Grand Prix winners at the Canadian Music Competition. That same year, they won the Glenn Gould School Concerto Competition, which earned them the opportunity to perform in Koerner Hall under the baton of Canadian Opera Company music director Johannes Debus in April 2018. CBC Radio’s In Concert broadcast their performance, which inspired host Paolo Pietropaolo to exclaim: “you can practically hear the electricity crackling between them.”
The name La Fiammata comes from the Italian term for a burst of flame, and represents the spark of connection they felt when they began collaborating at The Glenn Gould School. As they recount on their website, after being paired up to play as a piano duo, “what started as a school requirement morphed into something incredibly fun and worthwhile.” Through their work together, they discovered their contrasting musical styles as well as complementary musical strengths. Fittingly, both Charissa and Linda study with GGS Dean James Anagnoson, himself one-half of an acclaimed piano duo, Anagnoson & Kinton.
Their musical collaboration is also the expression of a strong personal bond that developed after they met at another Vancouver competition a few years ago (in a way, their recent achievement in that same city as a duo has brought them full circle). As they’ve observed, life is much better with a friend by your side.