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(Posted 5:30 p.m., Feb. 5)
Gloucester Music Club concert showcases seven sets of talented siblings
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

It was sibling night at the Gloucester Music Club's second instalment of their 2010-2011 concert series on Friday as no fewer than seven sets of siblings were on the program.

Alice Yang, 9, performs during the Gloucester Musig Club concety at the Orléans United Church last night. Fred Sherwin/Photo

In fact, it was enough to make one wonder whether the Gloucester Music Teachers Association has a multiples discount.

There were three sets of sisters, three sets of brother and sister, and a sibling trio consisting of a brother and two sisters.

While you would think learning to perform on the same musical instrument might develop into a classic case of sibling rivalry, more often than not the opposite is true. The siblings develop a sense of mutual support.

If there is a rivalry, it's in seeing who gets to practice first.

In the Lau family, where middle brother Noah has to share time on the family piano with his baby sister Bethany and older sister Meghan, it's a matter of first come, first play.

That's usually the case in most families where two or more siblings are musically inclined.

Things are slightly more complicated in the Millan family where Emily, 13, Julia, 10, and Benjamin, 8, all play piano leaving their mother Cynthia to act as referee. You would think having two pianos in the house would help, but not when two siblings want to play the same piano at the same time.

It could be worse if not for the fact that a fourth sibling Nathalie, 12, decided to switch from piano to flute last year in order to pay in her school band.

Emily was the first to start taking lessons six years ago. She was joined by Nathalie a year later and then Julia a year after that. For the next two years they had to share a standup piano.

The pecking order was determined by who had to do homework, who had to chores and who sat on piano bench first.

When Benjamin started taking lessons two years ago the Millans bought an electric keyboard. But instead of making things easier it only added to the headaches for the first few months because everyone wanted to play the new keyboard.

Over time they've managed to work things out pretty nicely as evident by the performances of three of the four Millan siblings Friday night.

Julia played "Children's Song" by Béla Bartók, while Emily selected "Zinc Pink" by contemporary American composer Dennis Alexander. Both performances were solid and mistake free. The elder sibling's exceptional dexterity and musicality was especially evident during her piece.

But it was Nathalie's performance of Allegretto "Carnival in Venice" that provided one of the highlights of the evening. Consideing she has only been playing the instrument less than two years it was quite remarkable.

Other highlights during the 70 minute program that included 25 performances in all, were delivered by Taneisha Kandiah, Jerry Feng, Cynthia Taing, Marcus Gran-Ruaz, Oliver Ng, Stephanie Gran-Ruaz, Tina Su, Alice Yang, Shara Abdi, Naomi Ng and Philip Chau.

The concert was brought to a close by Michelle Lim whose spellbinding performance of "Fantasie - Impromptu C #1" was on par with the likes of Gloucester Music Club alumni Mimi Lam and Claudia Chan.

The Grade 12 student is going to be taking her ARCT exam this year, which is the highest level attainable under the Royal Conservatory of Music adjudication program.

Judging by her performance Friday night, she should do extremely well.

The next set of concerts on the Gloucester Music Club calendar will be held on March 25 and 27 at the Orleans United Church, 1111 Orléans Blvd. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the cost is $5 per person.


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