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20 Questions with Nora Bumanis

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 17:34
Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Email Posted by Carmyn Joy Effa



1. When did you start playing the harp? What got you interested?  

I started off by playing the piano when I was four. I was doing really well, so my parents asked me when I was ten years old whether or not I’d like to learn another instrument. I said yes, and they took me to the Toronto Symphony for an entire year so I could observe the musicians and pick an instrument that way. Which was a really significant investment for them! 

I was very intrigued with the harp. I think, partly because it was featured often–there were a lot of solo parts. And then, there were times when the harpist would totally leave, while the rest of the orchestra stayed on stage. I kept thinking, “Where is she going?” I think the beauty and the grace of the instrument interested me, obviously, but so did its autonomy.  

True to their word, at the end of the year my parents asked what I wanted to play, to which I responded, “the harp.” They couldn’t afford one, so my dad actually made me my first harp. It didn’t sound like anything much, but it was something that I could practice on. Then, instead of buying the family a cottage, they bought me my first instrument. The rest is kind of history, but I owe it all to them. My mother took an extra job to pay for lessons, even. They put a lot of investment into my musical future, and I couldn’t have done it without them. 


2. What’s your favourite beverage? 
Champagne. 


3. Where is your hometown? 
Toronto. I lived there until I got the job with the ESO, 22 years ago. 

4. What’s something you particularly like about Edmonton? 
I love the river valley. I love the people. I love the soul of the city and how anything is possible here–except for warm weather in February. It’s a great place to create projects. And the whole fact that it’s a festival city means there are so many opportunities for performers. It’s all do-able here. 


5. Do you have any pet peeves? 
People who don’t recognize how lucky they are, rude drivers, and telemarketers. 


6. If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be? 
I would probably like to have dinner with the ancestors I never got to meet. And then some of the masters of my instrument like Carlos Salzedo–who has sort of revolutionized the harp. I would have liked to have learned about his passion and how he took an instrument that was basically a parlour instrument and placed it front and center of an orchestra. 

7. What’s your favourite travel experience?  
When Chris and I were in Venice, we walked into the Venice Symphony’s concert hall, hoping to just get a tour. While we were there, however, they said, “You’re welcome to come in and listen to the orchestra rehearsal!” We got to sit in one of the upper boxes and hear them play Mahler’s 7th Symphony. Which is just a dream piece. It was like we were in the right place at the right time. We listened to the whole symphony and it was such a treat. Chances are, the concert would’ve been sold out, but we got to listen to the whole thing. 

Carnegie Hall was also right up there as one of my favourite travel experiences. Just being able to participate in making history for the ESO in such a historical building was incredible. 


8. Do you have any secret talents?  
When I was young, I rode motorcycles! 


9. It’s Sunday morning. What are you having for breakfast? 
An omelet or bacon and eggs. 


10. Do you have a role model or someone who’s particularly influenced you? 
My harp teacher, Judy Lolam, who was with the Toronto Symphony. She really was a great role model for me. First of all, she had four kids–one of them with special needs–but she never missed a day of work and never complained. She was the busiest person I knew. Even so, when she taught me, she’d always go over our allotted lesson time. It was never about money for her–it was a true love for the instrument and teaching. 

She taught me integrity in my professional life, and that being a musician is not only being a performer, but also it’s being an ambassador. She taught me not to complain or be afraid of hard work, either. I hope that I teach my students in a similar way. 


11. Name three things–trivial or serious–you can’t live without. 
My dog, coffee, and friends. 


12. Do you have any guilty pleasures? 
I like to research wine. And I always love a piece of dark chocolate. 


13. Is there a musical masterpiece you wish bore your signature? 
I’m happy that the geniuses write and that I just get to play.   


14. What’s the first car you drove/owned? 
It was a little dark green Acadian. I used to have to borrow my father’s station wagon to transport my harp, however.  


15. If you had to choose a different career, what would that be? 
I’d like to be an ambassadress to a pacifist, wine-producing country. 


16. Is there something you haven’t experienced, yet, that you’d like to? 
I’d like to master another language. I’ve also always thought it would be fun to learn another instrument. And then, of course, both Chris and I love to travel–so, explore new countries. 



17. If you could play on any stage in the world, which would you choose? 
I already played in my dream space: Carnegie Hall. Actually, I’ve played most big stages in Canada, but the Winspear is still the best. I’d love to play in some of the big cathedrals in Europe, too! 

18. What’s an album you never get tired of? 
It’s funny, because musicians don’t really listen to much music. If you phoned up any of the ESO musicians on a Saturday night and asked them what they were listening to, they’d say nothing. 


That being said, I really like Joni Mitchell. And there’s this wonderful singer named Madeline Peyroux–she’s a Canadian, French cabaret style singer. I love to listen to her while I’m cooking. I love blues. I love jazz. I also like opera. So, I don’t know if I could pinpoint it to one! It’s kind of whatever matches my mood. Really, I like all genres of music, as long as it’s done well. 


19. Describe your perfect day off. 
I’d sleep in a little bit, and then after breakfast I’d take my dog for a long walk in Millcreek Ravine. I like to cook, so I think I’d experiment with a new recipe. Then, read and play my harp a little. And end it with Chris and a bottle of wine and a movie.  

20. Do you have a favourite book or movie or TV show? 
I’m in a book club, which I love. I really like Canadian authors. I think Canada should be very proud of what it’s producing. But, again, it’s hard for me to pinpoint just one. Usually, my favourite book is whatever I’m reading at the time. 

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20 Questions with Gerald Onciul

Tuesday, 15 April 2014 18:46
Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Email Posted by Carmyn Joy Effa



1. When did you start playing the French horn? What got you interested?
 

My mother had an old tenor horn–a horn used in British brass bands, typically. She played one, so I also picked it up and started playing it in the fourth grade. I played it for about three years, and then I switched to the French horn in grade seven.

2. What’s your favourite beverage?
Tim Horton’s iced cappuccinos.

3. Where is your hometown?
Edmonton. I was born here.

4. What’s something you particularly like about Edmonton?  
The river valley. I grew up playing golf there, in particular. I spent most of my summers down in the river valley playing. That’s what draws me to the city. 

5. Do you have any pet peeves? 
People who don’t shovel their sidewalks in the winter.

6. If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be?  
Johan Sebastian Bach, Martin Luther, and Elvis Presley.  

7. What’s your favourite travel experience?
I really like the American southwest. My wife and I recently went to the Grand Canyon and some of the national parks in that area. We went to the Petrified Forest and Bryce Canyon, over to Arches National Park in Utah. That was just so unique.  Those rock formations!  

8. Do you have any secret talents?
Golf.

9. It’s Sunday morning. What are you having for breakfast?
I’d make either a Denver omelette or blueberry pancakes.

10. Do you have a role model or someone who’s particularly influenced you?
My first horn teacher, Dr. John Iltis. He was so disciplined.


11. Name three things–trivial or serious–you can’t live without.
Golf, coffee, and gardening.

12. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Chocolate and Costco ice cream cones.

13. Is there a musical masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
For a horn player, it’d have to be Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

14. What’s the first car you drove/owned?
A 1966 Beamount.

15. If you had to choose a different career, what would that be?
I think my first choice would have been to be a professional golfer. A lot of the guys I used to play with at Riverside Golf Course turned pro. I was the runner up for club champion in 1980, and the guy that beat me went on to be a pro. That would have appealed to me.

16. Is there something you haven’t experienced, yet, that you’d like to?
  
I would love to climb Mount Robson. Or, for an ultimate backpacking experience, I’d love to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

17. If you could play on any stage in the world, which would you choose?
Musikverein in Vienna.

18. What’s an album you never get tired of?
Karen Carpenter’s albums. I listen to a lot of her. Her voice is so distinct.

19. Describe your perfect day off.
I get up, I have a bowl of cereal, I grab the newspaper, and I go into the living room and I read. And then I’d go for a walk in the neighbourhood or go for a work out, followed by a steam bath. I’d treat myself a little.

20. Do you have a favourite book or movie or TV show?
I read Lord of the Rings quite a few years ago, and when they made those books into movies, I was blown away. I couldn’t believe they were able to translate those into film.

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20 Questions with Lidia Khaner

Tuesday, 08 April 2014 17:19
Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Email Posted by Carmyn Joy Effa



Lidia Khaner has performed as the ESO's principal oboe since 1996.
In the spirit of getting to know our musicians better, here's our second instalment of 20 Questions. 


1. When did you start playing the oboe? What got you interested?
I started to play at age 15. In Poland, when you turn 15, you move from elementary school straight into high school. I wanted to change to study a wind instrument in high school, so I applied to play the flute.

Somehow, something got twisted around–and I think it was the doing of my school’s music director, whose daughter used to play oboe–and it was decided that the oboe would be more suited to me. He just made the decision for me. After I completed all of my entrance exams, he said, “well, I have good news and I have bad news. The good new is, you got in. The bad news is, you’re going to play the oboe.” And I though, “well, okay!” I suppose the instrument sort of chose me, in a way. 

2. What’s your favourite beverage?
I don’t have a particular one. Whatever the occasion brings, I’m flexible. At least, I like to think that. :)

3. Where is your hometown?
Suwalki. It’s in the northeastern part of Poland. I was born there and lived there for 15 years. When I transferred to high school, I had to move to a different city. My family still lives there.

4. What’s something you particularly like about Edmonton?
I’ve always thought that Edmonton is the perfect place for a family. It’s not too small; it’s not too big. It has everything that you require to raise kids. It’s a family city, and that’s what I like about Edmonton the best.  

5. Do you have any pet peeves?
I don’t have any. At least, I try not to get too excited about stuff like that. I probably do have some, but I try not to focus on them too much. Of course, little things still irritate me, but I try to let them go as quickly as possible.

6. If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be?
The Dalai Lama. And somebody with a lot of knowledge who could help with life questions. I cannot think of three specific people, but the Dalai Lama would definitely be my first choice.

7. What’s your favourite travel experience?
When I came to Canada and got the invitation for my first season with the ESO in 1996, I told myself, “Great. I will just pack my suitcases and go and finally stay in one place for nine months.” And this was a fascinating concept for me, because before that, for about 12 years, I had been traveling constantly. In short, I cannot say I have one favourite travel experience, because I have traveled all over the world with my orchestra. And I’m really happy to still be in one place, too.

8. Do you have any secret talents?
I always think of myself as being a little psychic. Since I was little, I’ve been able to pick up on clues and somehow know things. I guess I’m intuitive. 

9. It’s Sunday morning. What are you having for breakfast?
Pancakes! 

10. Do you have a role model or someone who’s particularly influenced you?
I’ve had many. I cannot say that I’ve had one main influence. Through my many travels, what I have learned to do is learn something from everyone that I meet. Yehudi Menuhin does stand out to me, however. I remember playing with him and observing how he put his heart into what he did. And I learned from that.

11. Name three things–trivial or serious–you can’t live without.
Sleep. I love to sleep. I like to eat. And, I think, the compassion of others. I need positive interactions with people.

12. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I have a sweet tooth. If I start a chocolate bar, I cannot stop.

13. Is there a musical masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
When I played the Hatzis’ Oboe Concerto for the ESO in November, that was the first time in my life that I walked off the stage and thought, “My goodness, I didn’t do anything there! This wasn’t my doing.” The piece is so good on its own, that it didn’t really matter if I played it perfectly or not. It would still sound great. I think this is one of those pieces that I felt strongly about and that felt very right. The composer is incredible. This is the piece I’d say I wish I had written.

14. What’s the first car you drove/owned?
It was the smallest car we had in Poland: a Fiat. I think it was blue.

15. If you had to choose a different career, what would that be?
At some point, I was thinking about doing massage therapy. And, if I didn’t play in the ESO, I think I’d like to do more Tae Kwon Do. I’ve been practicing Tae Kwon Do for almost 18 years, now. Those are the two things that come to mind, right away. 

16. Is there something you haven’t experienced, yet, that you’d like to?
I promised myself I would learn to play the cello. I’ve attempted to sell my husband’s cello in the past, but it never happened. That’s helped to convince me again that it’s a sign I need to learn how to play it. It’s just waiting, and I think I’ll pick it up soon.

17. If you could play on any stage in the world, which would you choose?
I’ve played on so many of the world’s biggest concert halls, to be honest. But, I do remember the first time I played at Carnegie Hall. I was very young and it was quite impressive. For the first time, I didn’t have to work as hard to shape the sound. It was so much easier to make it rich and there weren’t any surprises. I didn’t have to be as cautious. I think this is the hall I enjoyed the most. 

18. What’s an album you never get tired of?
Honestly, I always get tired of stuff. I will listen to things over and over, but eventually I will switch to something else. I will like it, but I nothing sticks with me for very long.

19. Describe your perfect day off.  
I would sleep in a bit, and then make pancakes for my kids. I like to do something a little special with them on days off, because there aren’t many of them. Then, I just like to do everything slowly. I never really try to plan too much.

20. Do you have a favourite book/movie/TV show?
I like science fiction and fantasy. I don’t have a particular favourite, but I like things that bring hope. I find those genres have this affect on me, and that they enrich my life.

 

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A Letter for Brandi Carlile

Monday, 14 April 2014 20:26
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This past week, Brandi Carlile joined the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra for two incredible performances. Following her Wednesday night show, we were able to arrange for one of Brandi's youngest fans, Elise, to hand deliver a letter she'd written the artist. In Elise's own words, the day was "better than Christmas," and something she's "trying to remember forever." Thanks so much, Brandi, for showing your love for Edmonton in so many ways! 




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20 Questions with Robert Uchida

Tuesday, 01 April 2014 19:38
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Two weeks ago, we proudly launched the ESO's 2014-2015 season. The new brochure features nine of our musicians and the stories behind the instruments they each play. We thought it would be fun to expand these musician profiles further on our blog, so we sat down to ask each player 20 light-hearted questions.

We begin the series today by featuring our concertmaster, Robert Uchida. Enjoy! And check back each Tuesday for a new interview.

1. When did you start playing the violin? What got you interested?
I saw Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street when I was about three and a half, and I just kept bugging my parents until they let me start. I started playing when I was four. I actually met Perlman when I was 14 and I told him the story. He said, “Oh, I’m so sorry!”

2. What’s your favourite beverage?
Coke.

3. Where is your hometown?
Toronto.

4. What’s something you particularly like about Edmonton?
We’ve been here almost seven months now. Honestly, there’s a lot I really love about Edmonton. But, I think the thing I like most is that it’s a big city, but it’s divided up into all of these little neighbourhoods. So, you have everything that a big city can offer, but you also have that small community feel.

5. Do you have any pet peeves?
No.

6. If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be?
Mohammed Ali, Mozart, and Ernest Hemingway.

7. What’s your favourite travel experience?
In that way, I’ve been very fortunate. My wife, Laura, and I have done a lot of traveling. We got married in Italy, right near the Mediterranean Sea. So, that was certainly one of the high points. We also spent a day in Reykjavik, Iceland, which was very interesting.

8. Do you have any secret talents?
No.

9. It’s Sunday morning. What are you having for breakfast?
Pancakes. Blueberry pancakes.

10. Do you have a role model or someone who’s particularly influenced you?
I’ve been very lucky and I can’t narrow it down to one. I’ve had really great violin teachers, and they’ve certainly played a huge part in my life. I’ve been really lucky with pretty much every violin teacher I’ve had.

11. Name three things–trivial or serious–you can’t live without.
My family and music? That’s a hard one!

12. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I like South Park. There’s definitely some guilt associated with that one.

13. Is there a musical masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
The Bartók String Quartets.

14. What’s the first car you drove/owned?
A 1987 Mazda 823.

15. If you had to choose a different career, what would that be?
I feel like I’m a people person, so something that allows me to interact a lot with people. Whatever that might be.

16. Is there something you haven’t experienced, yet, that you’d like to?
You would think it’d have a really big list, but I feel like we’re really lucky. We’ve had the opportunity to do so much. Of course, there are things I’d like to do, but I generally feel quite content.

17. If you could play on any stage in the world, which would you choose?
I’ve been very lucky to play on some of the world’s greatest stages. There are some amazing halls I haven’t experienced, such as the Musikverein in Vienna or the hall in Berlin. Apparently, they’re some really great halls in Japan, too. In general, though, this question is hard for me to answer, because I don’t focus on those sorts of attainments much. I’m honestly very happy to play in the Winspear Centre. It’s really an enormous privilege to get to play in this hall.

18. What’s an album you never get tired of?
I’ll give you two. There’s a recording of Heifetz doing a Tchaikovsky concerto with the Chicago Symphony and Fitz Reiner conducting. It was one of the first recordings where they used a really high definition audio – well, for the 1960s, or something. It’s just an amazing recording. It’s one of my favourite recordings. And, I really like Paul Simon’s Graceland . It’s amazing.

19. Describe your perfect day off.
Pancakes with the kids. I have two kids – they’re four and one and a half. Followed by a little bit of practicing, and an activity with my family.

20. Do you have a favourite book/movie/TV show?
I like Modern Family a lot, in terms of TV shows. And there are a lot of books I like. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Marquez. The Razor’s Edge is also fantastic. And I’m a big Earnest Hemingway fan. The Sun Also Rises is one of my favourites.

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