Westminster presents French Toast

May 5, 2016   ·   0 Comments

So lovely to think of the relatively new organist at a church initiating concerts of music that are not necessarily sacred. Something a little whimsical, different – a pleasant afternoon of music from France, a few delectables after, a treat on a Sunday in May.

This very occasion is on offer at the Westminster United Church May 15, starting at 2:00 pm.

Nancy Sicsic, M.Mus, barely a year into her position as organist pianist, choirmaster and Music Director at Westminster and by now very impressed with the large range of musical talent in this area, has engaged flautist, Kim Stevenson, and vocalist, Emma Heimbecker to join her for an hour and a half, more or less, of music of French composers, including Franck, Debussy and Ravel. Not only that, but “at the finish, we’re doing a jazz set,” she told us.

Originally born in the States, where she studied music, she came to Canada with her Canadian husband to live and work in Vancouver. There, she taught music, specifically piano, for about 15 years and became a Canadian citizen.

A change in her life brought her to move on to Toronto, where she took a teaching position at the University of Toronto and is on the faculty part time as a piano teacher.

She instructs in the Alexander Technique which combines playing the piano with a technique that entails real knowledge of how the body works.

The discipline was developed by an Australian, Frederick M. Alexander (1869 -1955), an actor who realized that a better understanding of how the body functions could improve the way in which a person does any activity, including playing an musical instrument.

Focussing on the primary centre of the head, neck and torso, Mr. Alexander established a technique of improving their relation to each other, thereby resolving a great many physical and even psychological problems in those he treated. His successes took him to the UK where he worked on his theories until his death.

Ms Sicsic runs a course on the Alexander methods at the U of T. “I took the teachers’ training course,” she said, “It’s a three year, 1600 hour course.”

It was last June that Ms Sicsic and her partner came to Orangeville to live, where her partner’s parents reside. Ms Sicsic and her partner wanted a home outside the city and she discovered that Orangeville is a beautiful and friendly town. She very soon found this position at Westminster.

“I have always worked in churches. I grew up in a musical family of eight children. We all played. My father encouraged us,  maybe so we could always find work,” she related somewhat humorously.

“I was playing at St. Basil in Toronto, later moved to an United Church which made it easy to come to Westminster. This is a very active congregation and I’m trying to involve people in the arts community here.”

Very early on in her work at Westminster, Ms Sicsic had the first of her “The Sounds of Westminster” afternoon concerts. Still so new to the area, she brought in colleagues from Toronto to provide the entertainment. This year, she was ready to find the musicians here.

Flautist, Kim Stevenson, has performed for many years in the area with classical guitarist Daniel LaBrash, as well as with John Weavers and the Dufferin Concert Singers. Ms Stevenson is also an elementary teacher at Montgomery Village P.S.

Emma Heimbecker was very involved with the Theatre Orangeville Youth Singers -T.O.Y.S.- as a youngster. She has sung at many occasions in the area.

Although it was not her primary instrument, Ms Sicsic studied the organ at university. She noted, “Not many women  were in the course, there were more men. So, I did my degree in the piano but I never stopped playing the organ.

“People think the organ is stuffy until they hear it play French music.”

“At my age,” she began, “I reckon – why play unless I’m enjoying myself. I really try to pick music  people will enjoy.”

As for the concert on May 15, she was clear that it will be fun: “It’ll be super, with the French songs. I think it’ll be lovely. Really something nice to do.”

She said, “This is the second one. In future, I hope to have more of these.”

The concert is to be followed by French themed sweets and cheese. Tickets include refreshments and are available at Westminster United Church, BookLore and New Wave Pool & Spas. Set for May 15, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.