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TSO's Year of the Sheep: A Chinese New Year Celebration

Last night we went to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's The Year of the Sheep: A Chinese New Year Celebration. Long Yu conducted and we had performances by:
Lang Lang - Piano
Lei Jia - Folk Singer
Johnson Li - Piano
Coco Ma - Piano
Yao Guang Zhai - Clarinet
Teng Li - Viola

Our narrator and host was Mark Rowswell.

Our tickets said that the concert was going to be at 7pm so we got there around 6:30 but the doors weren't open. On our program it said the concert was at 7:30.

In the lobby, they had a lion dance. Last year the lions chased me. lol

They played the piece that I loved from last year, "Spring Festival Overture" by Li Huanzhi. It was wonderful. 

Yao Guang Zhai  and Teng Li were excellent in the Concerto for Clarinet and Viola, Op 88 by Max Bruch.  They are both members of the TSO and it was nice being able to see them perform solos. They are so talented!

The Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens was different from the last time that I saw it. The pianists were 11 year old Johnson Li from Hong Kong and 14 year old Coco Ma who studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The narration was in Chinese but it probably wouldn't have worked in English so they put English verses in our programs. 

I loved the Folk Singer - Lei  Jia. She performed "The Village of Sanshillipu" and "In Praise of Cattle." She also did a traditional Hunan Folk Song with Lang Lang. 


I won!

I can't believe I won the Royal Conservatory of Music's Share the Celebration Video Countdown with my performance of Douglas Firs by Stephen Chatman!!!
I'm so happy!

They posted the video on their social media sites.
Here's the link to their youtube video:

I had so much fun running all over Toronto learning about Douglas Firs... the trees. When I played the piece I thought about how magnificent Douglas Firs are.

I am sure it must have been a very hard decision for the judges. All of the entries were very good!

Thank you so much Marine! I couldn't have done it without you!
And thank you Mom for encouraging me to learn about Douglas Firs. :-)

Here's the link to my blog post about learning about the trees:

OMG! I can't believe I won!


Time for Three & the TSO: From Bach to Bluegrass

Today Mom and I went to see Time for Three perform with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It was fantastic!

I had no idea what to expect. My violin teacher recommended that we go. She has never suggested any concerts to us before so we just had to make it. I'm so happy she told us about it.

We knew it was a Pops Concert and that Steven Reineke was going to conduct. He always does fun concerts.

The first thing we heard was Also Sprach Zarathrustra but with hilarious narration that we weren't expecting... It was the Overture to Time For Three. It was a good preview for what to expect for the rest of the concert. They mixed various styles in with the classical music.

We got right into the concert. I loved everything they did!
I wouldn't do it justice if I were to describe what they do. You have to hear it yourself.
Here are a couple videos on youtube:
This one is Czardas


I still can't believe they mixed Katy Perry's Firework and Igor Stravinsky's Firebird together!
I loved the mash up of Flower Duet from Lakmé and Le Vie En Rose.

Time for Three and the TSO had a lot of fun together. It was great seeing them just having fun with the music.

The TSO even did "Pops Hoe-Down for Orchestra" by Richard Hayman on their own and it was such a lively piece. It even had melodies from "Pop goes the weasel" and "Do your ears hang low?" It's been a long time since I've seen the percussionists using so many different instruments. They really made things clack, zing & pop!

Here is Time for Three performing Hungarian Dance 5 with the Heartland Festival Orchestra

And believe me, they are even better in person!

My favourite song was The Devil Went Down to Georgia.
They mixed Charlie Daniels Band's The Devil Went Down to Georgia with Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D Minor and Paganini's Caprice #24,  added in their own narration and completely made it their own.

Nick, Ranaan and Zach posed for a picture with me as well.

If you ever have the chance to see them perform you have to go!

Thanks Amanda for telling me about this concert.


TSO's The Orchestral Piano

Last night, Dad and I went to see the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Concert "The Orchestral Piano." I didn't know what to expect. I thought that we'd hear the orchestra and the piano together.

The musicians came out on stage and warmed up as usual but they all got up and left the stage. I wondered what was going on and then pianists Emanuel Ax and Stewart Goodyear took their places. They played Four Dances by Carl Maria von Weber. Then the orchestra came out and played  Hindesmith's Symphonic Metamorphosis and Themes of Carl Maria von Weber. They were very similar but Metamorphosis was composed years later for the orchestra.

We moved on to Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn. He composed it on 2 pianos before he arranged it for orchestra. We got to hear both versions. Pianists Anagnoson and Kinton came out to play the piano version and then the orchestra came back out to play the orchestral version. It was the exact same piece and I liked both of them equally. I love piano and I love all of the instruments of the orchestra.

For Ravel's La Valse, we got to hear Emanuel Ax and Stewart Goodyear again. They played the piano version and the orchestra came out to play their version. The piano version of La Valse was crazy! I loved it! I really liked both versions but I loved the piano!

It was a very different concert! But, it was totally cool!


TSO's Carnival of the Animals

Last night I went to see TSO's Carnival of the Animals conducted by Peter Oundjian.

They played:
Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 316a/365
Kevin Lau: Foothills of Heaven
Saint-Saens: The Carnival of the Animals

Pianists Jan Lisiecki and Emanuel Ax played Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos. It was wonderful!

My favourite part of the evening was Saint-Saens' The Carnival of the Animals. They played Aquarium, the Pianists, the Swan, the Elephant, the Coockoo and lots more. But of those, I really loved The Tortoises!

Peter Oundjian told a joke about a tortoise.
He said:
"I once was friends with a tortoise. 
I never knew him well. 
It was so hard for me
to get him out of his shell.

We had an argument. 
We were friends no more. 
He decided to leave, 
but it took him one month 
to get to the door." 

Emanuel Ax pretended to fall asleep while they were playing "The Tortoises," and Joseph Johnson 'woke" him up by tapping him with his bow.

There were so many jokes and they fooled around but they are so talented that they can do that and still sound great!

The Carnival of the Animals is such a fun work and it has so many different moods.
It was cool seeing it in person instead of just listening to a recording.


Toronto City Council - Mental Health Care in Toronto?

I'm continuing to learn about Toronto City Council and today I am watching the meeting on TV.
They have discussed 2 main things:
1. Suicide Prevention Barriers aka Platform Edge Doors for the TTC Subway
& 2. Homelessness and Cold Weather.

Here are links to the items on the agenda:

When they were discussing the Platform Edge Doors they looked at how many 'Unauthorized persons at track level' it would prevent. Last year they had 34 suicide attempts with about 1/3 of that being fatal.  Each door would cost $13 million which would put the cost to about $1 billion to retrofit all of the subway stations. It would be very expensive to do this to prevent the small number of suicides BUT  one of the Councillors pointed out how much more efficient the subways would be. I think it was Joe Mihevic who said that. To have the Platform Edge Doors they would have to fully automate the trains and this means that they would be able to run the trains more efficiently through the stations. Automating the trains would happen around 2020. (This makes me wonder about what those TTC drivers will do when it's automated.) 

For the issue regarding Homelessness and Cold Weather they were looking at the spaces available. Rob Ford was against the use of motel rooms to temporarily house homeless people. But as Mammoliti pointed out they are not exactly luxurious. Councillor Cressy pointed out that homelessness is actually a Housing Issue. We don't have enough affordable housing. There are about 91,000 households on the waiting list for affordable housing and we aren't doing enough to provide it. There were only 358 new affordable housing units created last year. 

What I was wondering about is why don't they have someone - an expert - come in and talk about how we can improve Mental Health Care in Toronto. For both of the topics they discussed it would be useful if there were ways to help the people dealing with Mental Health issues. I am sure a lot of the people who are homeless are in need of proper Mental Health Care and obviously the people who are attempting suicide need help with their Mental Health too.

(Thank you Councillor Cressy for calling me back regarding the statistics about Homelessness and Affordable Housing.)

I can't believe Speaker Nunziata had to ask Councillor Ford to leave City Council because he made it seem like a City Staffer - the General Manager was trying to 'slip a free trip' to Italy when they were discussing 'Support for an Ontario Installation and Presence at Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy'. Councillor Ford should have apologized. 


City Council - The SmartTrack Study Debate

This morning, Mom and I went to watch what was going on at the Toronto City Council. It was very entertaining.

Speaker Frances Nunziata had an 'oops' when she accidentally called Mayor Tory, 'Mayor Ford'. She corrected herself right away and then apologized. Mayor Tory was a good sport. He said, "Old habits die hard," and he moved on.

One of the main items on the agenda was Mayor Tory's SmartTrack Proposal.
Lots of councillors asked questions about the plan including the distance between the stops and where the SmartTrack plan would serve.

At one point today, Councillor Ford challenged Mayor Tory's plan. Ford compared the Smart Track Plan to streetcars and he asked if Tory let people know that they were going to dig up Eglinton Avenue from Scarlett Road to Martin Grove in Etobicoke? He also questioned spending money on the study.
Mayor Tory responded by saying that we need to do the study before we spend billions of dollars on the project. And Mayor Tory reminded Ford who won the election. He said, "The fact of the matter is, I won the election."

I think everybody reacted to that. Some people laughed, and some people clapped.
Mom took a picture of my reaction.

Councillor Mammoliti asked about how the SmartTrack would help people in the North West section of the city. He pointed out that it does not help some of the poor neighbourhoods.  He said if it did, he'd hug the Mayor. :-)

I didn't want to leave but we had to go because Mom had an appointment. If only I could watch it all day.

When I got home I found out that the City Council approved the $1.65 million dollar study of Mayor Tory's SmartTrack plan.


My Grade 6 Piano Exam Results

I got results for my RCM Grade 6 piano exam.
I got 91%!
I'm thrilled!
I got First Class Honours with Distinction.

I'm going to start back piano lessons next week. There are so many grade 7 popular selection songs that I want to do. I can't wait for the sheet music to come. :-)

Here is a link to the pieces that I did for my Grade 6 exam: