Musician, teacher and Bullfrog Founders Club member
Between passion for change and passion for music, Frank Horvat seems to have struck a balance.
“Music is so many things for me,” says the Ottawa-born musician, composer and teacher. “Among them is the ability to bring social awareness to various issues.”
As a classically-trained pianist favouring a contemporary style, Horvat’s passion for music is matched by his enthusiasm for pursuing social causes like poverty and environmental awareness. He works in many capacities to improve music education for children in the Toronto community, from organizing fundraiser concerts to composing and conducting musical pieces for students.
Horvat tries to be as environmentally friendly as he can in his musical work. He uses compact fluorescent bulbs throughout his studio and has sealed the studio’s windows to conserve heat and energy. His studio is also bullfrogpowered with 100% green electricity.
When teaching, Horvat avoids using paper for music education materials, and uses recycled or FSC-certified paper for printed documents. And, he encourages his students to purchase used instruments in order to help save natural resources.
When Horvat needs to get around, he drives a hybrid vehicle and takes public transit. He also plans meetings and concerts at venues that are accessible by public transit.
Despite all of his contributions, however, Horvat feels he isn’t doing enough. “Sometimes I think, ‘All I do is music. How does that help anything?'”
But music has become his way of contributing. Horvat is about to embark on The Green Keys Tour, a cross-country concert circuit that will begin on March 27, 2010, and continue through 2011. The entire tour will be bullfrogpowered, and Horvat aims to make the tour as environmentally low-impact as possible, hoping to set an example for other musicians. “I want everything I’m doing in the tour to act as an example of how people can still pursue their dreams and ambitions without hurting Mother Nature in the process,” he explains.
All the concert performances will raise funds for the World Wildlife Fund, an organization close to Horvat. “My wife works for the Panda and through her, I’ve learned about the many great things that they’re doing,” he says. A portion of the proceeds from his upcoming album, A Little Dark Music, will go to WWF-Canada.
The concert, which includes selections from A Little Dark Music, features an hour-long composition titled Earth Hour. The piece, which takes its name from the environmental awareness event that takes place every March 27, explores the introspective side of darkness. He explains: “‘What do you feel emotionally when you’re in darkness? Do you feel a moment of clarity, with no visual distractions, that allows you to think about deeper issues in your life?’ Those were all questions that I was exploring through the sound of the music.” It is no coincidence, then, that Horvat’s concert begins the same day as Earth Hour.
Horvat strives to entertain and connect with audiences through his music; he also hopes to inspire listeners. “If I can touch somebody emotionally through a piece like Earth Hour in a recital or on my CD, if it gets them to shut lights off more often or take public transit instead of driving; it’s great.”
Horvat’s music is deeply cerebral and driven by abstract expression. Unfettered by genre, he is known for blending classical, pop and jazz into his pieces, citing influences from Beethoven to Frank Zappa. “Every time I sit down to compose something, I always feel that, in some form or another, all these varied influences come up,” he explains. “I’ve never allowed myself artistically to pigeonhole my work. Basically, what comes out, comes out.” His first album, I’ll be Good, introduced his eclectic style through 13 virtuosic piano tracks.
Horvat has been a bullfrogpowered customer since Bullfrog launched in 2005. “My wife and I are proud to see it grow,” he says. “There were less than a hundred customers when we first signed up. And now, seeing Bullfrog increase its membership, green the grid, and expand into so many provinces; man, it is really exciting.”
Will he continue to compose and perform music aimed at making a difference? Although he is always working on a number of projects at any given time, he thinks so. “I can’t help but feel that I will always use my music as a means to do that. It’s just been a part of me ever since I can remember.”