Emilio De Mercato
Featured on Lake Como Magazine in 2010 as one of the most outstanding artists of his generation, pianist, conductor and composer Emilio De Mercato was born and raised in Varese, Italy, taking his first musical steps at the age of five under the influence of his pianist mother.
Based in Edmonton since 2012, Emilio is the founder and Music Director of the Alberta Symphony Orchestra since 2015, having performed two tours and over thirty concerts as pianist and conductor of the ASO as early as in the first season.
In 2017 he presented a Tribute to Glenn Gould at the Winspear Centre for Music in Edmonton for the 150th anniversary of Canada, in partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and with the support of Canadian Heritage, leading the ASO at its debut as a 55-piece orchestra. On this acclaimed occasion, Emilio conducted Dvorak’s New World Symphony, the Alberta-premiere of Curiosity, Genius, and the Search for Petula Clark by Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy, and performed as both pianist and conductor in Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto.
In 2016, he conducted Symphony Paradiso at Festival Place in Sherwood Park, performing orchestral works by Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone. The same year he performed and conducted the ASO in Symphony of Hope benefit concert at the Royal Alberta Museum for the fire-ravaged city of Fort McMurray and the Canadian Red Cross. The year 2018 served as the fourth consecutive year that Emilio was invited to perform, together with the ASO Chamber Orchestra, at the finale of Celebrate The Season Festival at the Province of Alberta Legislature Building, which took place each December.
Recipient of prizes in piano competitions and recognitions such as the Pintadera Award in Italy in 2007 which stated:“With his music, performed with outstanding technique combined with very unique and very personal sensitivity, he has shone and keeps on shining our community over all the nations where he performs”, Emilio is a dynamic and engaging performer. He has performed as a soloist since the age of nine, with chamber ensembles and orchestras, and with extensive repertoire from baroque to contemporary music. He has toured across Europe, Asia and North America. In 2017 he debuted with a piano recital, which featured works by Debussy, Chopin and Mussorgsky, at the 63rd Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago Puccini, Viareggio, Italy.
After achieving master’s degrees in piano and composition at the Conservatorio di Musica “Giuseppe Verdi” in Milan, Italy, Emilio pursued studies in piano performance at the Accademia di Alto Perfezionamento Musicale in Seveso, Italy, and at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Bern, Switzerland, obtaining the Konzertdiplom under the guidance of Bruno Canino. He has attended masterclasses around Europe and the United States with renowned musicians such as Lazar Berman, Alexis Weissenberg, Malcom Bilson, William Grant Naboré, Jerome Rose, Fou Ts’ong, Alexander Lonquich, Andreas Staier, Andrea Lucchesini, Franco Scala, Riccardo Risaliti, Klaus Hellwig, Dmitri Bashkirov, Jeffrey Swann, Leslie Howard, Louis Lortie, at institutions such as the Summer Academy at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Piano Academy “Incontri col Maestro” in Imola, the Lake Como Piano Academy, the École Normale de Musique “Alfred Cortot” in Paris, and the Mannes College of Music in New York. In 1997 he attended the first summer courses held by the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Casalmaggiore, Italy, on full scholarship.
Emilio had his early debut in 1999 at the Sala Verdi in Milan, Italy, performing Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto with the Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali, under the baton of Pietro Mianiti. In 2001 he represented Italy at the Kyoto Music Students Festival in Japan. Upon his return he performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto K503 with the Youth Orchestra of the Conservatory of Milan, featuring his own cadenza for the first movement. He has been guest performer in cities such as Paris at Cité Universitaire, Arona at the 43rd Festival Internazionale Settimane Musicali di Stresa e del Lago Maggiore, Milan for La Società dei Concerti and for Associazione Musicale Dino Ciani, Rome at the Amphitheater of Ostia Antica, and Venice for Pomeriggi Musicali at Palazzo Albrizzi.
A well-rounded musician, he regularly works with singers and instrumentalists on a vast and flexible repertoire that ranges from Lieder such as Schubert’s Die Winterreise -which he has performed together with bass-baritone Dominik Woerner- to opera, from classical to contemporary chamber music. He performed works by Schoenberg and Ligeti at the Biennal Festival in Bern, and at the International Festival for Contemporary Music in Wroclaw, Poland. In 2012 he performed Webern’s Concerto Op.24 with the Kammerensemble HMT, conducted by Kaspar Zehnder, at the Festival “Emit Time” in Bern.
He is a composer of chamber and orchestral works such as Summer Day, Notturno, More than Suite and Why Not? which have been published by Sonitus Editions. His composition for violin and piano More than Suite was premiered and recorded live in 2010, featuring himself at the piano in duo with violinist Gabriele Baffero, and is available on his YouTube channel. In 2013, his work for two pianos from the opera Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi, commissioned by the Edmonton Verdi Festival, was critically acclaimed immediately after its premiere during the Viva Verdi Gala Concert at the Winspear Centre for Music.
In 2007 he founded, and led as artistic director, the concert series “Musica in Cripta” in Italy. He directed seven editions, until 2015, featuring performances in collaboration with international artists such as pianist Bruno Canino, violinist Suela Mullaj, Quartetto Dorico with Alessandro Milani-concertmaster of the Orchestra RAI of Turin, Quartetto Indaco, and the Orchestra Nuova Cameristica of Milan. In 2009 he performed with the Philharmonic Orchestra “Mihail Jora” of Bacau, both Mozart’s Piano Concerto K488 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in the same evening, under the baton of Ovidiu Balan. In 2014 he debuted as pianist and conductor of the MIC Chamber Orchestra, performing works by Mozart (Piano Concerto K414), Barber (Adagio) and Britten (Young Apollo).
Committed to championing classical music and music education to new generations, he has been a passionate piano teacher for the past twenty-five years. His early appointment was as a substitute piano teacher at the Conservatorio di Musica “Giuseppe Verdi” in Milan. Since then, he has been working for many institutions. In Italy, he was the founder and director of the Art of Sounds International School of Music from 2008 to 2014, and the founder of the Art of Sounds Music Association in 2010. From 2012 to 2018 he was Piano Faculty member at MacEwan University Conservatory of Music in Edmonton. In Edmonton he has been as well piano instructor at the Giovanni School of Music for nine years, and he is currently teaching at the Windermere Music Academy.
Since his move to Canada, he has been extensively performing in Edmonton, across Alberta and beyond, at venues such as the Winspear Centre for Music, Muttart Hall, Jubilee Auditorium, City Hall, Italian Cultural Centre, Myer Horowitz Theatre, CBC Radio, Alberta Legislature, Bissell Centre, Canterbury Foundation, Mazankowski Heart Institute, Goretti Centre Theatre, and has been featured and interviewed on radio and TV including CityTV, CKUA Radio, CBC Radio, CTV Alberta Primetime and Global News. In 2013 he was appointed Music Director of the Edmonton Verdi Festival for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi, receiving the CIFES Award for his outstanding leadership at the closing ceremony.
In 2016 he toured Canada, performing in Edmonton (Winspear Centre for Music), Calgary (Rozsa Centre), Vancouver (Playhouse Theatre) and Toronto (Casa Loma), as pianist of A Stradivarius for the People-Canadian Tour, sponsored by the Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver, the Italian Cultural Institute of Toronto, and the National Congress of Italian-Canadians, Edmonton District. In March 2017 his first Alberta Piano Tour included concerts in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Peace River and Canmore, as well as a piano masterclass and lecture at the Grande Prairie Regional College. Later that same year, he served as artistic director of the Glenn Gould Piano Festival in Edmonton, officially endorsed by the Glenn Gould Estate of Toronto, and was featured in an interview, from his studio at MacEwan University Conservatory of Music, through the satellite channel RAI International.
On December 7th, 2019, Emilio was the pianist and conductor of the ASO for a Tribute to Renoir at Allard Hall Triffo Theatre in Edmonton, on the 100th anniversary of the death of the French Impressionist painter. The event was preceded by a special interview and performance on CTV Morning Live Show, featuring Canadian soprano Cara McLeod and himself as the pianist.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Emilio has been working on providing relief through music for the senior citizens across Alberta. As a recipient through the ASO of the New Horizons for Seniors Program grant, he has adapted his original mandate of travelling across the province to provide live music for the seniors, to presenting such performances via virtual platforms in response to the pandemic conditions and restrictions. He also has been a guest at several online events, nationally and internationally, including Rotary Connette (Italy), the Canadian Association of Piano Technicians, and Lombardi nel Mondo (Italy), and was featured by Canadian fashion retailer Simons in a special interview which was distributed nationally in their July 2020 Newsletter.
In December 2020, Emilio created and released two special videos to virtually celebrate Christmas, bring comfort, and unite friends and colleagues together during this different time: Christmas Is Here, showcasing performances by young talents, which was shared with seniors’ homes all across Alberta; and O Holy Night, a short movie he scripted, filmed and edited, featuring eighteen different performers, local and international, on the notes of the popular song by Adolphe Adam.
Emilio is currently working on finalizing several projects in 2021. Among them, he has created a special concert format titled Ode To Humanity which has received the support from the Edmonton Community Foundation and was recently featured in an interview.