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Mom and I were invited to help out with Mochi-tsuki at the Toronto Buddhist Church.
Mochi is a small sticky rice cake. The rice is glutinous and so, it has a very chewy texture. It is really hard to describe, but we love it. It is a traditional Japanese food for New Year.

First, we got a short tour of the church.
The church is beautiful. It is bright and airy - even in the basement.

These first two pictures were taken in the worship area.

After the tour, we got to work.

We helped to cool the mochi using hand-held fans.
It turns out that the hand-held fans are the best way to cool them. If they use mechanical fans it blows up too much of the rice flour in the air.

We moved from table to table, making sure that all of the mochi  was cool enough for packaging.

There were lots of us, working to cool the mochi.
We cooled lots and lots of mochi, but we didn't even notice how fast the time was going.
Being around friendly people made the job easier.

Of course, we ate some of the mochi already, and we shared some with Dad and our neighbours.

If you'd like to see a video of mochi making at the Toronto Buddhist Church from 2012, you can find a video online at:

Thank you Angela for inviting us to the Mochi-tsuki!
We hope you invite us again next year!!


Merry Christmas!

Just sharing my favourite Christmas memory.....
Here is a video of me and my Grandma JD playing Jingle Bells together when I was 5 years old.

Merry Christmas!
Hope you have a peaceful holiday season!


Bach's Prelude in G Minor on the Organ!

I started doing organ lessons about 6 weeks ago.

Here is the first video of me playing a piece on the organ taken at All Saints Kingsway Anglican Church. :-)
I am playing J.S. Bach's Prelude in G minor from "Eight Little Preludes and Fugues for Organ".
The edition I have is edited by C.M. Widor.


The Venezuelan Cuatro and other things

Mom and I are taking the day off today, so it is the perfect time to catch up on my blog. We had a very busy weekend. On Friday, I had my Harmony (Theory) exam in the morning, and an orchestra performance in the evening. On Saturday, I had rehearsal in the morning, my very first sewing lesson in the afternoon, and a 'get-together' in the evening. Sunday was slower, but yesterday we were all over Toronto - the whole day, even though it snowed.

The highlight of my weekend was the 'get-together' on Saturday.
My friends from St. Thomas More Catholic Church invited me. It was the get-together/performance of the students, friends and family of Isidro Martinez. He teaches guitar and accordion.

They played lots of wonderful music from Cuba, Venezuela, Columbia and Mexico.

Fernando played the Cuban Tres.
It's super cool. It's tuned A, D, F#.
Here is a video of Fernando and Isidro.

And here is a close up picture of the Tres.

I got to try out a Venezuelan Cuatro. It looks like a guitar but it has four strings and it is tuned differently (A, D, F#, B).... I loved it!


Thomas Gonder at The Cathedral Church of St. James

I have seen Thomas Gonder playing at "Music at Midday" at St. James Cathedral twice now.
He is absolutely spectacular!

On October 4th he played:

Hagia Sofia by Naji Hakim
Hommage a Igor Stravinski (Triptyque pour Grand Orgue) by Naji Hakim

and on November 29th he played:

Marche Episcopale by David Briggs
Fugue Improvisee pour Sulpice by David Briggs
Le Tombeau d'Olivier Messiaen (Trois meditations symphoniques pour Orgue) by Naji Hakim

I've noticed that Thomas Gonder likes to perform contemporary music.  Both concerts featured composers who are still alive.  In fact, David Briggs was in the audience last week! And he loved it!

I can't believe how brilliant Thomas Gonder is, and he really pushed the organ to its limits. I'm still flabbergasted!

And I can't believe all of these organists do these performances for free!

Here is a link to the youtube video of David Briggs doing his Fugue Improvisee pour Sulpice:

Here is a picture of me with Thomas Gonder at the October concert:


Simon Walker's "Music at Midday" Concert At St James Cathedral

Last week Tuesday, Mom and I went to St James Cathedral's "Music at Midday".
I almost didn't get to blog about it because of my exam preparations and my own concert on Sunday. (I was the principal violist in my youth orchestra. We had rehearsals on Saturday and performed on Sunday.)

Simon Walker was our soloist. 
He Played...
  • Prelude in F-sharp minor by D. Buxtehude
  • Fantaisie in A by C. Franck
  • Chorale Prelude 'Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland by J.S. Bach
  • March on a theme of Handel by A. Guilmant
He was amazing!
I love being able to hear so many good organists. I am so lucky that I can go to these concerts on a Tuesday afternoon.

March on a theme of Handel by A. Guilmant is based on the opening of Lift Up Your Heads from Handel's Messiah but it has a Bach feel.

Mom loved Fantasie in A by C. Frank.... She told me it moved her to tears.

All of his selections were wonderful.

I wonder if it would be possible to organize an organ concert geared towards school kids?
I think more kids my age should get the chance hear such great music.  They'd like it, they just don't know that they'd like it.


Coro de la Chinita del Chiquinquira

Today, I helped out at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. They had a special program at their Spanish Mass honouring the Virgen de Chiquinquira.

I have been going for the last few weeks to work with the choir in preparation for this Mass. I met some really great people and I was introduced to a really cool instrument - the Venezuelan Cuatro.
The only difficulty that I had was that I don't speak Spanish, but music is universal. :-)

Here is a video that Mom took of me and the choir during Communion.
The first song I played was Panis Angelicus by C. Franck and I also accompanied the choir for Akathistos.

Everybody was so friendly and I was so surprised today when they gave me a gift certificate, cards and a beautiful statuette of the Virgin of Chiquinquira. It will have a very special place on top of my organ at home.

Thank you to the choir and volunteers for all of your hard work which made everything go so smoothly today.


Putting the Garden to Bed

This year, we have been experimenting with gardening.
We've harvested almost everything and we have been 'putting the garden to bed'. We pulled out all the tomatoes plants and the other annuals.  We added mulch to our strawberries & blueberries, and we are preparing the raised beds by topping them up with fresh soil mixed with manure and compost.

The garden looks so empty now.
There are no more morning glories or marigolds.
I will especially miss the fresh tomatoes and peppers.

Maybe next year we will plant some more winter hardy stuff.

Here is a picture of a grasshopper that was posing for us on some sage.


David Briggs's "Music at Midday" Concert at St. James Cathedral

I really love going to the "Music at Midday" Concerts at St. James Cathedral. :-)

On Tuesday, I convinced Mom to take me to the organ recital. We got to meet David Briggs and he let me watch from beside the console.

I am in awe!

I can't believe his hands and feet can move so fast!
I don't know how it is physically possible.... I wonder how I can learn to do it!

The other thing that is completely amazing is that he can transcribe music that he has heard. It takes him hours upon hours but he is patient enough to do it, and his hearing must be really sensitive to get all of the notes!

He played music in the Notre-Dame tradition including:

  • Marche des Marseilloises by Claude Balbastre (1724 -1799)
  • Pièce d'orgue by Anotoine Calvière (1695 - 1755)
  • from 'Pièces de Fantaisie' by Louis Verne (1870 - 1937)

Clair de Lune
Toccata in B flat minor

  • Toccata de la Libération by Léonce de St Martin (1886 - 1954)
  • Variations sur 'Alouette, gentille Alouette' by Pierre Cochereau and transcribed by David J. Briggs

I am so totally amazed!

He is doing next week's "Music at Midday" concert where he will be performing Gustav Mahler's Symphony Number 3 (which he transcribed) and Mezzo-Soprano Christina Stelmacovich will also perform.

And on November 11th he is doing a Remembrance Day Concert at Lawrence Park Community Church (2180 Bayview Ave) at 8pm, featuring the music of Bach, Franck and Elgar.


Phantoms of the Organ at the Metropolitan United Church

Last night, Mom and I went to the "Phantoms of the Organ" Concert put on by Music at Metropolitan and Toronto Centre of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

Final from Symphony VI by C.M. Widor
performed by Manuel Piazza

Petite Suite by Gerald Bales
performed by Saya Ojiri

Chaconne from Sonata III by Raymond Daveluy
performed by Stefani Bedin

Scherzo from Symphony 1 by Rachel Laurin
performed by Sarah Svendsen

Toccata and Fugue in D minor by J. S. Bach
performed by Thomas Fitches

Alles Was Du Bist by B. Nalle
Toccata from Suite Gothique by L. Boellmann
performed by John Tuttle

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies by P. I. Tchaikovsky
performed by Patricia Wright

Allegro from Symphony VI by C. M. Widor
performed by Joshua Ehlebracht

They were all amazing!

Thomas Fitches and John Tuttle performed the Toccatas that we all know and love to hear around Halloween. They did not disappoint!

Sarah Svendsen played one of my favourite Scherzos - better than ever!

I especially loved the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.... If we weren't watching, you wouldn't know it wasn't an orchestra! She played the parts of the entire orchestra! She used the harp stop to get the sounds of the celeste... but her two hands and two feet played the entire thing!

And, Joshua Elbracht, he is so young! He's in grade 12!
He is a bonafide genius!

One of the things that made me happy was that there were so many people there to support the organists. It was a free concert but they accepted donations to help student organists and it was a full house!

After the concert, lots of kids got to check out the organ at the Met. It is the largest pipe organ in Canada. It has 5 manuals, 120 stops and over 8,000 pipes!

Here is a picture of me with Patricia Wright. I tried playing the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.


Thomas Fitches' "Music at Midday" Concert at St. James' Cathedral

On Tuesday, Mom and I went to see Thomas Fitches play at the "Music at Midday" Concert at St. James' Cathedral. It was wonderful!

We started going to as many organ concerts as possible, because I convinced Mom that it is a part of my education. I want to become an organist and a part of that is listening to many good organists in concert. It was kind of easy to convince Mom to go, because she doesn't like listening to recordings. (It is the same way that Dad can't convince her to watch Baseball on TV, but she will go to games.)

At Thomas Fitches' concert he played:

  • Preambulo from Music for Organ by Sigfrid Karg-Elert

  • Voluntary II in A minor, Opus 6 by John Stanley

  • Suite on Magnificat of the Second Tone by Jean-Adam Guilain
Tuerce en Taille
Basse de Trompette
Trio de Flutes
Petit Plein-jeu

  • Fantasie from Fantasie Sonata #17 in B major by Josef Rhineberger

Even though I don't normally like discord,  The Preambulo was kind of cool!  I think it would be perfect for Halloween.

My favourite part was the Suite on Magnificat. I really loved the Dialogue and the Petit Plein-jeu.
I am beginning to notice that I like the French style of organ playing.

Here is a picture of me with Thomas Fitches. :-) 

He was so kind, and he explained to me how it is pipes in the pipe organ are voiced. He helped with voicing some of the pipes at St. James Cathedral in 1966 - 1967 for Alan T. Jackson of Casavant Freres.

He pointed out the lips on the pipes which  I never really noticed before. They hammer the lips to get them in tune. I think it is fascinating that they can go out of tune! And weather can affect them because metal can expand and contract when exposed to extreme temperatures.


Ian Sadler's "Music at Midday" Concert at St. James' Cathedral

Today, Mom and I went to St. James' Cathedral for their weekly "Music at Midday" concert. The Organist was Ian Sandler. He has been the the Organist at St. James' Cathedral since the beginning of this year. His playing is indescribable. It's amazing beyond words!

I won't tell you exactly what he played because he plans to do a similar program in a few months and I don't want to spoil the surprise.

I particularly loved the piece from Symphony No. 2 in E minor by Louis Vierne.  And I also loved the Hornpipe Humoresque by Noel Rawsthorne. It was a humorous piece that was actually funny! I was able to pick out quite a few familiar themes from different composers.

After the concert, I got to meet Ian Sandler, and both he and Robert showed me the organ. It is such a beautiful instrument!

Ian and Robert, thank you so much for a wonderful concert and for showing me the organ!


Imre Oláh at St. James Cathedral

Last Tuesday, Mom and I went to the organ recital at St. James Cathedral.

Imre Oláh played:

  • Toccata in F Major, BWV 540 by J.S. Bach
  • Adagio and Allegro, K 594 by W.A. Mozart
  • Prelude and Fugue in C minor, Op. 37 by Felix Mendelssohn
  • Consolation in D-Flat Major by Franz Liszt
  • Prelude and Fugue on the Theme of B-A-C-H by Franz Liszt

He was brilliant!

I loved it!
He had a balance of soft pieces as well as some loud powerful pieces which showed what the organ is capable of.

Before he played, he explained a little bit about the pieces that he was going to play.
One of the most interesting things he told us about was "B-A-C-H" which is a German notation where the "B" stands for B♭and the "H" stands for B♮.  (I am having trouble figuring out how to type the musical symbols - but I am still learning.)

So the Liszt piece "Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of B-A-C-H" is really "B flat - A - C- B natural".
Really cool!

The only thing I found strange in the concert was the guy walking around taking pictures. How could he have not noticed that a concert going on?


Playing on a Harpsichord

I got the chance to play a harpsichord.
Of course I couldn't turn it down.

I am learning this song on the piano. It's not polished yet.
But here is a video:

J.S. Bach's Minuet and Trio from French Suite Number 3 in B Minor.


Richard Hansen at The Cathedral Church of St. James

I am so lucky to live in Toronto! There are lots of concerts all around the city during the week.
Today, Mom and I went to see Richard Hansen play the organ at The Cathedral Church of St. James.
He started playing organ when he was 13 years old.  :-)

The program was quite diverse.
It consisted of:

  • Prelude and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 546 by J.S. Bach
  • Voluntary in E Minor. No. 7, Op. 7 by John Stanley
  • Berceuse by Louis Vierne
  • Trumpet Air by Bert Vander Hoek
  • Master Tallis' Testament by Herbert Howells
  • Air and Interlude by Bert Vander Hoek
  • Paraphrase on "Time is the Glory" by Alexandre Guilmant

Richard Hansen's playing was extraordinary!
I especially loved the Bach and the Guilmant pieces and Mom's favourite was the Trumpet Air by Bert Vander Hoek.

The organ is spectacular!

The pipe organ was originally built in 1888. It now has 5101 pipes with 87 ranks.  (Each set of pipes with the same timbre and volume is called a rank.) It has 67 stops and 4 manuals with 6 divisions.

I have to admit, I was a little tongue-tied when I met Richard Hansen after his performance.

He and Robert from the St. James Cathedral showed me the organ.

It was just amazing!

I can't wait to start lessons.


Black Creek Homeschool Day

Last week was the Black Creek Homeschool Day program.
Overall, I think it was geared towards the 10 and under crowd. 

I focussed mostly on taking pictures. Specifically, playing with the ISO which measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. A lot of my pictures aren't good, but I'm just learning. Mom didn't take many pictures with her point and shoot camera... pretty much all of the pictures are mine, unless I am the subject of the picture.