blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

In rehearsal

Last Thursday, I and other supporters had the privilege of being invited to a very special occasion at the Bronson Centre (a downtown community centre); I sat on the front row for a rehearsal of the Orkidstra by one of its recently appointed "Ambassadors", the English Alexander Shelley. Mr Shelley is the current musical director of Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Here's a video clip of Mr. Shelley conducting a few elite members of the Orkidstra last year:

On Thursday, a much larger group of youngsters was taking part, including a very young trumpeter on a back seat, relishing every moment.

The Orkidstra, now responsible for 500 multi-ethnic children and adolescents, goes from strength to strength, and their enthusiasm is electric. Everyone present at the rehearsal was thrilled by it; although this wasn't a concert, we gave them a standing ovation they deserved. The school-aged youngsters, very few of whom have parents who can actually afford music lessons or instruments for their children, so they have to rely upon charitable donations, were rehearsing all four movements of Dvorak's New World Symphony, not a trivial piece of music to learn! This may well be the most ambitious piece music they have tackled to date (the Orkidstra is 10 years old). To involve as many "kids" as possible, the Largo movement involved a line of the KidSingers group, joining in with the words of Going Home, sung to the famous tune. Admittedly most of the instrumental tutors were present, playing along within the orchestra, including Karen Donelly, principal trumpet from the NACO, for example, so the standard of performance, boosted by these older music students and professionals, was pretty high.

I liked the way Mr. Shelley taught his charges with such energy, got the impression he enjoyed it tremendously and didn't want the rehearsal hour to be over. He is conscious of the players' potential. He joked with them but did not condenscend to them at all; he prompted the cello section to lose their inhibitions and urged the brass and woodwind sections to listen to one another.

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