Director’s Letter

October 8, 2018

Pierre Van der Westhuizen headshot

Dear Friends,

IT HAS BEEN NEARLY A YEAR since I became Director of The Gilmore, and I am happy to say that it has been one of the most exciting and rewarding of my career. My wife Sophié and I deeply appreciate the warm welcome we have received, and it is an honor to become involved in this fine organization. Looking forward, my goal is to build on the outstanding reputation of The Gilmore to ensure its continued growth and relevance in the years ahead.

Pierre van der Westhuizen

I believe that investments in educational programming and technology, applied to broaden the scope of the Festival and enhance communication of its unique attributes to a worldwide audience, will be vital to that continued growth.

In terms of technology, we’ll be looking to update the website to make it more interactive and user-friendly; live stream more of the Festival events; introduce a new Festival app; and add new social events that use technology to engage the audience in musical experiences.

One of The Gilmore’s core strengths is educational programming, which includes the Gilmore Family Concerts; Piano Labs (small group piano lessons in schools and at the Kalamazoo YMCA); KeysFest (an annual day of master classes for area piano students); and Piano Camp (a week-long program at the Sherman Lake YMCA camp). These programs are fundamentally important to our mission of inspiring present and future artists and audiences.

In the months and years ahead, educational programming will continue to expand. Several of the pianists participating in The Gilmore’s 2018-2019 Rising Stars Recital Series will perform “Baby Grands” concerts while in Kalamazoo. These popular events for infants and children up to age five were launched during the 2018 Festival as part of the Gilmore Family Concert series. The expansion will allow us to reach many more families throughout the season.

We are also planning an exciting new initiative with the renowned Lang Lang International Music Foundation, which is working on many levels to educate, inspire, and motivate the next generation of musicians. Our goal is to work with the Foundation to provide master class experiences and performance opportunities for Lang Lang Young Scholars, exceptionally talented young pianists from around the world who are chosen by Lang Lang to participate in the Young Scholars Program. Information about the Lang Lang Foundation Young Scholars Program is online at

As the director of a well-established and highly respected organization, I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about what the organization needs today and in the future. I think about what a marvelous instrument the piano is, what a staggering amount of music has been written for it, how hundreds of years—and literally unimaginable technological advances—separate the young people of today from composers such as Mozart and Beethoven. The fundamental question becomes: How do we bridge this gap? All of us here at The Gilmore are charged with the double tasks of not only keeping alive the piano and the music written for it for Classical music lovers, but also keeping it relevant for a young, 21st-century audience driven by, rooted in, and completely comfortable with technology of all kinds. This will inform our decisions in programming as well as the search for the next Gilmore Artist. Working together and utilizing all the creative tools at our disposal, we can ensure that the monumental achievements of the great composers live on for passionate audiences and gifted artists for generations to come.

My heartfelt thanks for your support of our efforts to inspire a love of music and cultural experiences that enrich all of our lives. I look forward to meeting you at our upcoming events!


Pierre van der Westhuizen, Director

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