Most of us don’t think of music when we hear the word “playoffs.” However, for the second time in a timespan of only one year I listened to very exciting playoffs in the St.George United Church in Peterborough, Ontario yesterday.
Peterborough hosts the Provincial Music Festival for Ontario because the relatively small city is a) home to an enormous amount of churches in very close distance from each other, and b) is located pretty central at least between the East and West of the province.
Last year my daughter Emily was honoured for the first time to play at the Provincials, competing in grade 7 piano. It was a fabulous, a little overwhelming experience. There were fifty participants chosen, the best from all Music Festivals throughout the province, divided into two churches and judged by two different adjudicators. After everyone had performed the adjudicator from each church gave feedback to each participant during a two-hour workshop and then announced two performers they chose to perform at the playoffs at the end of the day. So all performers and patient parents hurried per pedes or by car to the other church, St. George, for the playoffs, with the pedestrians beating the drivers because of a shortage of parking spaces. Four brilliant piano players had to calm their nerves once more to play for first and second place.
This year 37 grade 9 pianists from all over the province, divided again into two churches and three and three from each church competed against each other in the final playoffs. These six performers had been able to continuously perform at their very best and each had different and very unique traits and hoped for gold, silver or one of the two bronze medals.
There was this tall skinny young gentleman who was as nervous as one can be, but performed with such precision and clarity that it was a delight to watch and listen. He was followed by a calm and sophisticated young pianist who played a to me familiar piece by Grieg so well that I closed my eyes and was immediately transported into a totally different world. After this heavenly excursion I was stunned when I reopened my eyes to find myself back in that church, meeting not light and angels but only solid wood and an extraordinary musician on a piano… The next young player was a performer indeed as he smirked to the audience, bowed in a rush and jumped to sit on his piano bench. He was so taken by the music he played, that the viewer was tempted to think the performer was controlled by the music, not the other way around. The next three performers, two young women and another boy, played extraordinary well, but personally speaking, didn’t take my breath away. In the end I was more than happy for the young gentleman who played so heavenly to also receive the gold medal!
As for my daughter, she was not among the six finalists, and that’s okay. She’d already jumped from grade 7 Provincials to grade 9 in one year as she chose to do her Conservatory grade 8 exam in January after only five months of practice, and had only two months to learning and performing well her grade 9 pieces to once again be recommended for Provincials, something she had hoped for but was assumed rather unlikely. So for her to be one of the 37 grade 9 performers from all over Ontario was already a huge reward. The Royal Conservatory’s recommendation is two years to study for grade 9, not four month till the next exam.
Since we had to be at church already before 9 a.m. and we could only sit for so long on the hard church pews until the day ended at 5:30 p.m., we allowed ourselves a long lunch break visiting the Peterborough zoo and enjoying a delicious meal at a Belgian restaurant.
Camel Stampede at the Peterborough Zoo
2016 Provincials: all the 37 grade 9 piano performers
Our beloved music teacher, Mrs. Gertrude Weber’s two grade 9 piano students who made it to 2016 Provincials: Emily Martens-Oberwelland and Lydia Kim. Way to go, girls!