In 2012, Elizabeth founded Project Classical, a nonprofit organization with a mission to identify and support artists’ initiatives which encourage public education and appreciation of classical music.
Project Classical aims to inspire and empower emerging artists to carry on the tradition of classical music as a vibrant, relevant, and essential part of the cultural landscape.
The Piano Theatre Artist Group was founded in 2009 by Elizabeth and her sister, Sonya, in order to create public access to the arts and to engage audiences with innovative combinations of classical music, theatre, literature, art, dance and technology.
As Artistic Director, Elizabeth devises concerts, interactive and immersive performances, and integrated arts projects to bring classical concert music to diverse and under-served communities.
Driven by the scarcity of arts education for school age children, Elizabeth and her sister, Sonya, created a dynamic new treatment of Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals combined with original poetry and artwork, designed to appeal to audiences of all ages. Elizabeth devised, produced and directed the work; and the sisters raised funds to cover recording costs through the Kickstarter crowd-funding website. The project was promoted by a series of community engagement concerts performed in inner-city schools, and the disc is being distributed along with a colourful companion book featuring whimsical illustrations to complement the wit of Saint-Saens' work. Project Classical now offers the disc and book free of charge to educators, focusing on areas without sufficient arts funding.
The Magic Piano is an endearing radio drama featuring the adventures of a little girl and her talking piano. Inspired by a 1947 Capitol Records recording, Elizabeth devised Magic Piano to be a captivating introduction for today's young listeners into the enchanting world of classical music. Elizabeth wrote, produced, directed, and performed the work to present beloved pillars of the piano literature framed by an entertaining radio play. The short, accessible works by composers such as Chopin, Prokofiev, and Gershwin appeal to novice listeners and provide a diverse musical foundation performed with uncompromising artistry.
The Magic Piano is an ongoing project: Elizabeth is continuing to collaborate with educators to develop curricula based on the Magic Piano recording and the Canada Council has provided a generous grant to support the creation of The Magic Piano E-book which will be offered free for download.
The Magic Piano
Elizabeth and Sonya Schumann's duo of music and words evolved out of the sisters' shared passions for music, literature, and drama. A dynamic combination of storytelling and piano playing, Piano Theater gives deeper expression to words and makes the profound experience of classical music accessible to audiences of all ages.
The sisters share a kinetic connection with their audience, providing an opportunity for listeners to enter the world of the composers through artistic excellence, innovative programming, and insightful narration. Often receiving standing ovations, this duo was called “attractive, unique, and immensely engaging” by the Fine Arts Initiative, and has been garnering international attention since their debut.
Pianimal began as a concert tour integrating literature, music, art, and multimedia for children. This project presents piano pieces, theatre, animations, projections of artwork and live video, and interactivity in order to promote arts education in an entertaining way.
Pianimal has toured in Australia, the United States, and Canada, and a documentary of the tour is scheduled for release in summer 2013. The documentary will be free for download online and will include live concert footage of music by Dvorak, Grieg, Rimsky-Korsakov, Debussy, Scirabin, Dutilleux, Mussorgsky, and Saint-Saens.
The goal of the Pianimal documentary and tour is to give children everywhere access to fun, attractive music and integrated arts.