Westminster’s Gala concert caps annual music festival

May 17, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

As it has done for so many years, Westminster United Church hosted the Gala Concert for the Orangeville and District Music Festival Monday evening, May 14.

The much-anticipated annual event for the last 21 years sees students and their teachers come from Orangeville and the wider area to perform to a sizable audience of adoring family, teachers and friends.

There is every reason for admiration on the part of the audience members, for all the  students come looking wonderful and performing their finest pieces after months of practice and effort. Full credit to all, there was a wide variety of music and several different instruments on the program.

The participants range in age from eight to 19 years old. Their choices of the music each performed were interesting. Just to mention a few, from an elaborately arranged but traditional version of Greensleeves on the piano played by Sissi Kennedi to Aaron Laing’s gift to us of the jazz piano piece, Land of the Misty Giants by Oscar Peterson.

Sonia Chernov, tall and elegant, brought her accordion to the stage to squeeze, with solid joy, Bonita Myrita by D. Dean. Great to see an accordion is still being played by young people. Ms. Chernov later told the Citizen that her family are from the Ukraine and she was born here.

There were bells ringing in the hands of eight ringers, a group calling itself Heavenly Metal and playing Pizzicato Bells by Sallie Lloyd.

Vocal stars Darcey Baker and Duncan Lang sang solos and a duet: Ms. Baker sang “A New Life” from Jekyll and Hyde  as the opening number of the concert. Mr. Lang tied it up for intermission with Music of the Night from Phantom by Lloyd Webber and C. Hart.

Later, in the second half, they shared a duet  with Take Me as I Am, also from Jekyll and Hyde, by F. Wildhorn & L. Bricusse.

The festival. ran from April 30 to May 1 and 2, which were the adjudication dates for performers. The adjudicator this was Melodie Hewer, ARCT (Performance), RCM, BSc McMaster University, ORMTA, CFMTA, MTNA. Ms. Hewer is, among other accolades and achievements, an RCM-certified teacher of all disciplines, Examiner and Adjudicator.

The Annual Gala Concert this week was the celebration of it all, in which the young performers had the opportunity to perform before an audience as part of their education and development, as well as being given the chance to show their family and friends their progress in performance.

About half their numbers were given scholarships from the Festival, which are funded by a list of sponsors. One these, Dick Byford, upon being asked to come and give the next envelope, took over the microphone for a moment.

“I just want to say that we should praise the parents who do all the driving and encourage their children to love music and to play music,” he commented, and returned to his seat to appreciative applause.

Came the Oscar moment when the award of the night was to be handed out: the 2018 Most Promising Musician.

Last year’s winner, Darcey Baker, was asked to come up to present the award. And the winner was Sonia Chernov. Ms. Baker handed her an envelope and a small plaque, hers to keep. Lynne Smith, one of the founders of the festival and MC for the evening, joined them to note that Ms. Chernov’s name would also be added to the larger awards plaque which hangs in the church.

Once the festivities began to break up and people stood about chatting, we too sought out a couple of the performers.

Brother and sister, Aaron and Eden Laing, said they were both studying classical piano. Mr. Laing loves to play jazz as well, and, not surprisingly, he admires the work of the late, great Oscar Peterson. He has been playing piano for 11 years and is working on his ARCT. He wants to teach and do music therapy; he plays for Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Then, there was a quick word with Darcey Baker and Duncan Lang, who reminded us that they are singing in a concert – Music in May – with their teacher, Mark DuBois, and  several others at Tweedsmuir Presbyterian Church, on May 26.

Sonia Chernov talked briefly about her ambitions within her musical life. Currently in grade nine, she loves playing the accordion and wants to teach music.

“I want to inspire when I teach,” she averred.

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