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Carol of the Bells

I just found this video online... It is from the Kingsway Conservatory of Music's 2015 Christmas Concert. 

I love this arrangement of Carol of the Bells by Marshall Fine. 

I'm in the viola section, in the light blue shirt. 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve Eve at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Merry Christmas!

Dad and I spent Christmas Eve Eve (Dec 23rd) at Black Creek Pioneer Village. It was the first time we have gone in the snow. We took the fancy new subway to the new Pioneer Village Station and then walked from the station to BCPV. It took about 10 minutes but there is a bus that passes the Village. If it weren't for the new subway stop, we wouldn't have gone in the winter.

Here are some pictures from our trip.

I hope you are having a wonderful, peaceful Christmas!


My hair

The last time I cut my hair was about 2 years ago.... I was about to start a Summer Dance Intensive and I wanted to make it easier for me to manage. When I realized that I was giving up music and even my hair for dance, I changed my mind, and stopped. I am a musician, and I am a musician with an Afro!

In choir practice, when my hair was in the usual Afro-ponytail, another chorister told me that my hair was blocking his music. At first, I didn't know how to react and I meekly suggested doing something different with my hair. The more I think about it, the more it upsets me.

Why should my hair be a problem for someone else?

If I were female, he wouldn't have said anything.
If I had straight hair, he wouldn't have said anything.
If I were older, he wouldn't have said anything.

I should have gone back with my hair out in all its glory!

My hair is a part of my body, and I should be accepted just the way I am.


Mooredale Concert - Rebelheart Collective with Mai Tategami

This afternoon Mom, Dad and I went to Walter Hall at the University of Toronto for the
Rebelheart Collective, Mooredale Concert.

The Musicians for the Rebelheart Collective are:

Erika Raum, violin
Scott St. John, violin
Sharon Wei, viola
Thomas Wiebe, cello

For the Quintet, they were joined by Mai Tategami, violin,
with Scott St. John on viola

The program included:

String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 33, No. 2 (The Joke) - Franz Joseph Haydn
Allegro Moderato
Scherzando. Allegro - Trio
Finale. Presto

String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96 (American) - Antonin Dvorak
Allegro ma non trappo
Molto vivace
Finale: Vivace ma non troppo

String Quintent No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 87 - Felix Mendelsshon-Bartholdy
Allegro vivace
Andante scherzando
Adagio e lento
Allegro molto vivace

I am in the Mooredale Youth Orchestra, and my chamber group is doing the Mendelsshon piece.... We have a long way to go. The musicians in this group are so good, and they make it seem so easy but - it is so hard to do.  I am in awe at how good they are!

It was an amazing performance!

Yes, it was classical music, but it was very playful!
I loved it!

Thank you so much to the Mooredale Youth Orchestra for the tickets!

RCM Gold Medal Ceremony

Today, The Royal Conservatory of Music had the  2017 Toronto Convocation and Gold Medal Ceremony.

I feel so honoured to receive the Gold Medal for Grade 7 Organ.
I still can't believe, I could get such a high mark on an exam!
I just love music and I especially love the organ. 

I also want to say a huge Thank you to my Organ teacher, Ian Sadler!
I couldn't have asked for a better teacher. Thank you for taking me on as a student!

Here are some pictures from today.

This one is a picture of the ceiling inside Koerner Hall.

After the ceremony, we took a few pictures. 

Both of my parents are super proud of me. 
I couldn't have done this without their support.

My Speech Arts Teacher, Julia Pal, was also at the ceremony.
Three of her other students won Gold Medals!
Congratulations Julia!

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard for their Gold Medals!!!


Christian Lane at Christ Church Deer Park

I convinced my Dad to go with me to see Christian Lane perform on Friday.  (I guess you can say it's more like I bribed my Dad with paying for the tickets and coffee.)

Christian Lane performed works by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750) on the magnificent tracker organ at Christ Church Deer Park including:

Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C Major, BWV 564

Partita diverse sopra "Sei gegrüßet Jesu gütig," BWV 768 
Partita I
Partita VIII
Partita IX
Partita X
Partita XI

Prelude, Trio, and Fugue in C Major, BWV 545/529ii

Piece d'orgue, BWV 572

Wir glauben all an einen Gott, BWV 1098

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645

Wir Christenleut, BWV 1090

In dir ist Freude, BWV 615

Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 543

The last time I saw Christian Lane was 5 years ago at Roy Thomson Hall:

Christian Lane is very skillful and you only have to listen to his playing to understand why he is an award winning organist. Choosing the best registrations for a piece is a part of the challenge in playing the organ.  I particularly loved his playing of Partita especially the registrations that he chose which showcased the potential of the organ. Partita has movements with different moods which have you feeling reverence, excitement, eagerness, and satisfaction. It is really indescribable and you have to hear it for yourself.

The final piece, Prelude and Fugue in A Minor was really dramatic and kept me on the edge of my seat. It was such an amazing piece!

It was totally worth it taking my Dad to see this concert!

I hope I'll be able to hear Christian Lane in concert again soon!


Phantoms of the Organ at Church of the Holy Trinity

Halloween wouldn't be the same without an organ concert.

On Friday night, Dad and I went to "Phantoms of the Organ" at Church of the Holy Trinity. It is put on by the Royal Canadian College of Organists. (I joined the RCCO in September of this year.)
They invited some very talented people to play spooky music in this concert.

The program included:

Toccata and Fugue in D minor by J.S. Bach
Sarah Svendsen

Sonata No. 2 - II Ruhig bewegt by Paul Hindemith
Kwon Youn Jung

Prelude C minor by J.S. Bach
Esther-Ruth Teel

Little G Minor Prelude and Fugue by J.S. Bach
Lionel Rupic and William Tessier

Suite Medievale - Intro and Tiento by Jean Langlais
Sebastian Moreno

Funeral March of a Marionette by Charles Gounod
John Tuttle

Canon in B minor by Robert Schumann
Nicholas Wanstall

Fuge uber ein Thema von Germanotta by Giovanni Dettori
Manuel Piazza

Suite Gothique by Leon Boellmann
Introduction - Choral  - Stephen Frketic
Menuet gothique - Stefani Bedin
Priere a Notre-Dame - Matthew Boutda
Toccata - Rebecca Philips

I loved Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette and Schumann's Canon in B Minor. They were both really great pieces and wonderfully played.

Suite Gothique has always been a favourite of mine and the concert did not disappoint. The organists really brought it to life.

In the piece Sonata No. 2 - II Ruhig bewegt by Paul Hindemith, the 'modern' harmonies make it a bit spooky. I never noticed that before now. It's very interesting that Kwon Youn Jung chose that piece. It's quite original for a Halloween concert. Well done!

The Fuge uber ein Thema von Germanotta by Giovanni Dettori brought out some laughs. It's a fugue on the theme "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga. I have never heard Lady Gaga played in a church or on an organ before!

It was a really fun performance!
Thank you to all of the organists and to the RCCO for a great concert!


My organ recital

Today, I did my first organ recital.
It was at St. James' Cathedral.

The programme included:
  • Prelude and Fugue in C Major by J. S. Bach (1685 - 1750)
  • Largo e spiccato by A. Vivali (1678 - 1741) arr. J. S. Bach
  • Prelude and Fugue in G Minor by J. S. Bach
  • Voluntary in A Minor by William Boyce (1711 - 1779)
  • Berceuse by Louis Vierne (1870 - 1937)
  • Trumpet Air by Bert van der Hoek (b. 1932)
  • Siciliano by Max Reger (1873 - 1916)
  • Gaelic Fantasy for Organ by Hans-Andre Stamm (b. 1958)

The prelude in C Major went smoothly, but I stumbled a little in the fugue.  I had a 'fat finger' in a couple pieces but the good news is I think that any future recitals will be easier than this one. I learnt how to recover from my mistakes while performing in public.

Here is a video of Largo e spiccato from my recital:

A huge "Thank you" to Ian Sadler, my teacher and Robert Busiakiewicz, the Director of Music at St. James' Cathedral for allowing me to do lessons at the Cathedral, plus practice time and for letting me perform.

It is hard to believe, Robert introduced me to Ian, last year on October 18th and I had my first organ lesson on October 30th.
Here is a picture from the day I met Ian.

A special thank you to everyone who came out to hear me play, including Julia, Elaine, Kelly, Ken, Christine, Lisa, Mervin, Lucy, Barbara, Sage, and all the homeschoolers.

And thank you to Mom and Dad, I couldn't have done this without you!


My First Organ Recital

I have some exciting news!
Next Tuesday, I will do my first organ recital.
It will be at St. James Cathedral's "Music at Midday."
I am so excited!

Here is the poster with the information for the concert:


Manuel Piazza at "Music at Midday"

Yesterday, Mom and I went to "Music at Midday" at the Cathedral Church of St. James.
Their new Organ Scholar, Manuel Piazza, played for us. He is going to take up the position in September.

He played:

  • Prelude in B Minor BWV 544 by J. S. Bach (1685 - 1750)
  • Prelude in G Major, Op. 105 by Charles V. Stanford (1852 - 1924)
  • Fugue in C Major, from Sonata No. 2, Op. 65 by Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1947)
  • Organ Symphony No. 6, Op. 42, No. 2 by Charles-Marie Widor
    I. Allegro
    II. Adagio
    V. Final

He was amazing and his program was very entertaining!

I especially loved the Organ Symphony selections by Charles-Marie Widor.
His playing was very precise but also artistic.

Prelude in G Major by Charles V. Stanford was soft, balanced and very enjoyable.

The pieces that Manuel chose were very good at showing off the organ.
I loved it!

After the concert, I got to meet Manuel.

Here is a picture of me, Robert and Manuel.

Ukulele at Scarborough Museum

Mom and I went to Scarborough Museum yesterday.
They have music on Tuesdays this Summer so we decided to check it out.

They have free ukulele lessons at 4pm and I have always wanted to try it out.
Mattie was our teacher. She is doing a degree in Music Education at the University of Toronto and she's already very good at teaching!

Mom and I have very different ways of learning and Mattie was able to help both of us.
I can pick up an instrument and fiddle with it and figure a lot out on my own. Mom likes it when she has step by step oral instructions with additional information so she can see what to do.
Mattie was able to help both of us.

We tried out playing Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

It was our first time with ukuleles so Mom didn't get very far and I wasn't able to switch chords fast enough, but it was fun.

It rained a little so we went into the Parlour of the Cornell House to continue the lesson but it cleared back up and we were able to go back outside.

We also got to have scones with blackcurrant jam made by volunteers at the Museum.
It was delicious!
They even gave me the recipe. :-)

Thank you so much Mattie and to everyone at the Scarborough Museum for a wonderful afternoon!


St. James Cathedral

People ask me what it is that I love about St. James Cathedral.... It is hard to put it into words. 

I love organ music and I go to the Tuesday Music at Midday organ concerts whenever I can. 
Above all, I like the people at St. James and I love that we share the same love of the organ. 
I have met some really wonderful people at the concerts and it was at one of these concerts that I met my organ teacher.  It makes me so happy that I am able to have lessons in such a beautiful, historic place and be a part of such a great community. 

St. James has been going strong since 1807!
Of course, there have been many changes since then.

In February, there was a display up in the church for Black History Month.. 
This picture shows Thornton Blackburn's taxi stand outside of St. James Cathedral around 1874.

Thornton Blackburn was a former slave from the United States and John Strachan, who was rector of St. James objected to returning the Blackburns to the U.S.
I love that there is a long history of treating people with respect. 

The Church building itself is beautiful. It has stained glass windows all around.
Each of them shows a different scene. 

If you look closely, you might be able to spot a small picture of the Cathedral in this window.

There is just something about the church that makes you want to take care of it. 

Of course, I love the organ itself....
It has 5101 pipes and it has such a wide range of sounds.

Here is an excerpt from Voluntary in A Minor by William Boyce.
(Mom taped me when I was having class one week.)

This one is Little Prelude and Fugue in G Minor by J.S. Bach

I am still very new at playing organ... My repertoire isn't yet varied enough to show off the full capabilities of the organ.

Here is a link to the website for the Cathedral Church of St. James:


TDSB's Downtown Summer Strings, 2017

This week, I went to the Toronto District School Board's Downtown Summer Strings. It is a 2 week program but I was at Leahy Music Camp last week.

I am really good at sight reading sheet music, so I was able to fit in with the group well. I missed out on the Chamber Groups though because they form in the first week.

I played viola in the 'more advanced' group.
Camp is so much fun!

This year, on Stuffed Thing Day when the Chamber Groups perform for our Stuffed toys, my stuffed thing, Ptolemy XIX, won 'Most Likely to Look Like 18 Other Stuffed Things" and it got a cup covered with pictures which looked exactly like him!

Here are a couple videos from the concert.

The 'More advanced' group played Russian Sailor's Dance  by R. Gliere arranged by E. Del Borgo.

And the "Really Big Group" played Swallowtail (traditional) arranged by Ian Guenther.

Here is a picture of me with Andres. The last time I saw him, he performed Bach's Coffee Cantata with the Rezonance Baroque Ensemble.

Ed Hayes came to see the performance. He arranges music and the Downtown Summer Strings Staff and Staff Aides performed his arrangement of Journey's Don't Stop Believing.

I found this picture from the first time I met Ed in April 2010. Back then, I only played piano and my Mom was trying to convince me to try cello. He and his wife, Marie, came to my school and did a presentation about music from around the world.

This is a picture of me with Ian Guenther and Rebecca Kurtis-Pomeroy.
Every year, they put on this amazing camp and my summer doesn't feel right without it.
Thank you so much to Ian, Rebecca, Andres, Felix, Jonathan, and Lee and all of the Staff Aides!

Here are some pictures of me with Ian from 2013 - 2017.

Links to my older Blog Posts about Downtown Summer Strings:
2015 CTV News Feature