Frank Horvat is a celebrated Toronto-based composer and pianist who for decades has written and performed music across genres, from contemporary classical to musical theater and electronica. In 2017 he was the inaugural recipient of the Kathleen McMorrow Music Award which recognizes outstanding work by Ontario composers.
Frank is devoted to using his creative platform to support and bring awareness to causes about which he is passionate: the environment, human rights and mental health. Examples of his artivism include his album “For Those Who Died Trying” that memorializes the lives of murdered environmental activists and the “Piano Therapy” concert, a performance he developed and continues to tour in order to share his own mental health journey and to end the stigma around mental illness, particularly in the world of classical music.
His upcoming projects include “Fractures,” a song cycle of 13 pieces commissioned by acclaimed soprano Meredith Hall on the subject of the environmental impact of fracking, and a brand-new commission from pianist Kara Huber, a suite of solo piano pieces about the hiking paths in and around the beautiful mountain town of Banff, Alberta. In fact, shortly after this interview was completed, Frank traveled to Banff for a month-long residency during which he hiked the area’s most spectacular trails and started composing pieces inspired by his mountain peregrinations.
In this interview with Pier Carlo Talenti, Frank describes why and how he went about creating “Music for Self-Isolation,” his response to the pandemic lockdown that threatened the careers of so many of his musician colleagues. “Music for Self-Isolation” became an international phenomenon, has since been recorded as an album and is the focus of a documentary film. He also explains why being candid about his own mental illness — to himself, his loved ones and his audience — allowed his creativity to flourish in ways he couldn’t have foreseen.