Volume 12 Week 5

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(Posted 3:30 p.m., Dec. 1)

Gloucester Music Club kicks off new season with marvelous pair of recitals
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Charlotte Hou, 5, performs during the second of two Gloucester Music Club recitals at Resurrection Lutheran Church on Saturday. Fred Sherwin Photo

The level of musical talent in the east end never ceases to amaze me. Case in point, the first installment of this season's Gloucester Music Club series.

Nearly 50 young musicians between the ages of four and 16 performed on consecutive nights this past Friday and Saturday at Resurrection Lutheran Church, many doing so for the first time in front of live audience. And while some displayed a case of nerves, most came through with flying colours.

The Gloucester Music Teachers Association holds four sets of recitals each season, coinciding with the lead up to the Royal Conservatory of Music exams which take place every spring and summer.

Most, if not all, of the young musicians who performed this weekend have only just begun working on the pieces they will be graded on next spring. That usually means that the first set of recitals in the GMC series is fraught with pauses, missed notes and wrong keys.

It was a magnificent surprise then that the Saturday night recital which I attended was relatively error free.

In particular, 12-year-old Kevin Yang's performance of "Le Papillon" by the 19th century French composer Calixte Lavallée was flawless and demonstrated a level of focus and commitment to the piece that is rare in pianists his age.

Yang only recently passed his Grade 10 RCM exam, earning First Class Honours with Distinction for receiving a score of over 90 per cent.

The final level in the RCM certificate program is the Associate of the Royal Conservatory (ARCT) certificate which Yang plans to test for in two years. Should he pass the exam, which he no doubt will, he will join a select group of students who earned their ARCT certificate before tuning 15.

For someone so young to earn their ARCT certificate is exceptional. For two siblings to do so is extraordinary, but that will eventually happen as Yang's younger sister Alice moves up through the RCM certificate program.

The 10-year-old Henry Larsen Elementary School student preceeded her older brother on the program with Mozart's Sonata in B+, which she performed with equal aplomb.

Other highlights included Bethany Lau's performance of 18th century Czech composer Jan Dussek's Sonatina in G+ Op 20 No. 1.1; Max Fu's rendition of contemporary Russian composer Dimitry Kabalevsky's Sonatina No. 1 Op 13; and Megan Lau's performance of Beethoven's Sonatina in G+ Op 49 No. 2.

The piano recitals were nicely broken up by vocalist Julia Rougeau who sang an uplifting version of "Make Your Own Kind of Music" made famous by Cass Elliot in the summer of 1989. Rougeau is a GMC veteran having sung on eight different occasions. She's not sure when she first heard the relatively obscure song, but she believes her musician father had something to do with it.

"It was probably from my dad. He's in a band. I just really like it. It's very upbeat and it makes you smile," said Rougeau, 16.

My favourite performance of the evening was Amy Li's spellbinding interpretation of Chopin's Noctunre in E- Op 72 No 1. The 13-year-old pianist was very much in the zone as she beautifully demonstrated the difference between merely reciting a piece and performing it. It was absolutely magical.

The recital also included performances by the Hou siblings Charlotte, 5, and Alexander, 7. The youngest of the Hou siblings played Thomas Attwood's Sonatina in G, while Alexander performed Hadyn's Sonata in F+. Both played flawlessly.

Many of the students who performed on the weekend are Gloucester Music Club regulars. Being able to watch their talent grow and develop over the years is a real treat for people like teacher and GMC director Lori Lynn Penny.

"It's really special to not only watch them grow, but hear them grow as well through their fingers, their bows and their voices," said Penny.

Members of the public will get another chance to see and hear these talented young musicians at the next installment of the Gloucester Music Club series on Feb. 14 and 15. For more information about the GMC visit www.gloucestermusicclub.ca.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)



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