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Chilly Gonzales joins Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin in RCM Level 9 book

Robert Rowat

Watch for Chilly Gonzales's CBC Music homepage takeover on Monday, July 27. There'll be masterclass videos, playlists, a Feist/Gonzo tête-à-tête, new music and more. You'll find it all at

For piano students, the Royal Conservatory of Music's Celebration Series is a sort of bible, setting out the repertoire to be learned, memorized and performed at exams for each level of certification, from Preparatory A through Level 10.

Each book in the series provides a representative collection of pieces from the baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary style periods. In the 2015 edition of Celebration Series, which takes effect on Sept. 1, Level 9 pianists will see a piece by pop musician Chilly Gonzales, a.k.a. Gonzo, included among works by Debussy, Kabalevsky and Prokofiev in the list D (contemporary) chapter. The title of Gonzo's piece is "Carnivalse," and it comes from his 2004 album, Solo Piano.

"While many of our teachers aren't necessarily familiar with Gonzo's work, they are excited to think that a pop artist of his stature is included in the Celebration Series," explained Elaine Rusk, vice president of the RCM certificate program, via email.

"I suspect that many teachers and students will have made the connection between Gonzo and the Celebration Series while watching him play at the Pan Am Games opening ceremonies," she adds.

"I'm thrilled to be there," says Gonzo, reacting to the RCM's inclusion of his piece. "I'm one of the youngest and more-alive composers in this book."

In the video below, RCM piano student Coco Ma performs his "Carnivalse," with the composer looking on.

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