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Classical Music Month

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September is National Classical Music Month! Read about the musical pieces that inspired these members of the WSO to become classical music musicians.

I have a very special memory of playing Jean Coulthard’s Far Above the Clouds, a piano piece for children, when I was 10. I loved playing this piece, because it had beautiful soft sounds and colours that I enjoyed exploring at the piano, and I was also drawn to the evocative title. I recall having a magical experience performing this in a music festival at a church — only to later hear on the radio that Jean Coulthard had passed away that day. This experience was extremely moving for me, and as one of my first encounters with playing music by a contemporary woman composer, set me on a path of loving and being excited about all the amazing music that is being written in Canada today. I wished I had had a chance to meet Jean Coulthard and tell her how much I loved her piece; now I never pass up the opportunity to meet a composer I admire (which is why I love the Winnipeg New Music Festival so much!)  

Naomi Woo, Assistant Conductor

As a kid I was really inspired to become a musician after going to see the annual Canadian Brass Christmas concert at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Bach’s fugues were always what impressed me the most. Toccata and Fugue, Little Fugue, and later the whole Art of the Fugue.

Paul Jeffrey, Associate Principal Trumpet

At the age of 12, I auditioned for and was accepted into the Portland Youth Philharmonic, in Portland, Oregon, which has the distinction of being the oldest youth orchestra in the United States. My first year included a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4.  I remember the thrill of the opening of the fourth movement—one of the most exciting (and intimidating) things I had ever played in an ensemble. I distinctly remember the rush of energy performing with friends and colleagues in concert—all the work of practice, rehearsing twice and sometimes three times a week, and honing our ensemble skills made for a really amazing experience! These were such formative and inspiring experiences; I knew from a young age that I loved playing in an orchestra!!!

Rodica Jeffrey, Second Violin

As a teenager I used to lie down on the living room floor in the shape of a star and listen to the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No. 2 of his 6 Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin played by Henryk Szeryng on vinyl. I had to get up and put the needle back at the right spot and did that many times in a row many, many days.

Élise Lavallée, Acting Principal Viola