Category Archives: Music

Trip Lee in concert

B11 and I went to see Trip Lee in concert a couple of days ago. He was the guest of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Ottawa. Trip Lee is a Christian rapper and hip hop artist from Dallas, one of several Christian rappers that B11 likes to listen to. After he got Trip Lee’s latest album, The Good Life, he was surprised to find me listening to it and even more surprised to hear how much I liked it. That is how we came to be attending his concert here in town. The venue was not huge and we were in a raised section so we had no problem seeing the stage and artists well; I managed to get some  photos and a bit of video too.

Trip Lee began rapping at age 12, became a Christian at 14 and released his first album as he graduated from high school. His lyrics are gospel based and God glorifying.

Below are a couple of videos with Trip Lee  featured on the Desiring God blog recently.

Trip Lee talking about how hip hop is valuable in the fight against sin.

The gospel in two minutes

Weddings: the violinists

Our family has attended weddings the last two Saturdays and our girls are playing at one next weekend also.  Yesterday and last Saturday we were at weddings of girls we have know since they were ten years old.  We have been friends with their families for most of our years in Ottawa. Both brides especially wanted the girls to play violin, which they did beautifully. There has been some overlap in repertoire for the three weddings but also some new pieces to learn and arrange for each one. One of the perks of playing during the ceremonies, they found, was the close proximity to the wedding party; unfortunately they were not able to juggle cameras and violins. I will post pictures of other aspects of the weddings but why not start with my violinists?

As the girls almost always have to perform in black they were keen to have new “not black” dresses for the weddings.  The guest lists were totally different so wearing the same dress to each wedding was not a problem. Finding the dresses in the first place was more difficult. I was willing to make the dresses if necessary but we decided to shop first. L17 and I went out one evening and within an hour had found a dress which would only need minor alterations.  A15 and I went out numerous times including a visit to the fabric store and kept returning empty handed.  Finally with less than two days to go we found a pretty dress which was long but close to the style she wanted(most she had tried were way too short!) After taking a good look at it I assured her I could transform it into the style she was after but had been unable to find.  Here are the before and after shots:

L17’s dress as we purchased it:

and after I created straps and altered the sash:

A15’s dress as we purchased it:

After I made a few changes:

Iceland tour

Today the girls set off for Iceland with Stellae Boreales for a ten day, 6 performance tour.  They were heading to Toronto by bus and then flying direct to Reykjavik.  Hopefully the members of the ensemble will be blogging about their activities each day.  We have been watching the weather reports and the daily high hasn’t risen above 15°C in the last month but I think there is a 17°C forecast over the next few days.  While they are there they will experience 22 hours of daylight which is going to be strange I’m sure.

While they are gone B10 and I are painting his room.  Today’s task was to clear it completely and move all the contents into A14’s room, where he will live for the next little while.  Tomorrow we tackle the wall paper removal.

Fundraising 2 ways (part 1)

Both ways involve chocolate!

The girls and I have recently been involved in two very different fundraising efforts.  Both were raising funds for the same cause: the Stellae Boreales tour to Iceland in June/July of this year.  Nobody loves fundraising, but our ensemble does get creative at times.  Our yearly November concert is always followed by a silent auction and last November one of the parents generously offered to host “An Evening of Fine Food and Fine Music”.  It was bid for and bought by four couples.  L16 was enlisted to provide musical entertainment between courses along with another senior musician in the ensemble.  I volunteered to be sous chef and A14 was called on to serve at the table. Vicky, the chef, hosted it at her house and prepared nine superb courses in her tiny kitchen!

The dinner was a huge success.  The musicians played a duet after the guests had enjoyed their amuse-bouche.  Guests were then seated for the next two courses before enjoying the first sonata of the evening. The main course of Arabian Nights Stuffed Quail followed, then L16 played her sonata with our fabulous accompanist Judith Ginsburg.

There were several more courses and two more fine performances from the musicians before guests, chefs, musicians and serving staff adjourned to the living room  more than satisfied with the fabulous food, music and company.

I had a ball assisting Vicky in the kitchen.  She had prepared almost everything in advance so my main task was plating up. For dessert this involved a little “chocolate artwork” with of course a musical theme.

I decorated the plates in advanced and whisked them away to be retrieved later so I could add slices of chocolate terrine with balls of mango and raspberry artisanal sorbets.

All the courses were delicious; Vicky had prepared enough for her staff as well! The event was deemed a huge success by all and will hopefully be repeated next year.

First concert of the season

At the end of September  Stellae Boreales played their first concert of the season.  It is unusual for them to perform before late October as rehearsals officially start the second week of September.  The performance was a paid gig, the fee going toward the tour planned for next July.  In order to be “concert ready” those who were available rehearsed during the summer.  L16 was one of the facilitators of these rehearsals (along with one of the graduating members who helped lead the rehearsals before leaving for Princeton to begin undergraduate studies there).

In order to provide an hour of music there were a couple of soloists plus a duet by L16 and A14.  The audience were members of the CAPD, who were enjoying cocktails in the balcony while Stellae Boreales played in the ballroom below.  The summer rehearsals certainly paid off, the performance was an excellent kick off to the season for the group which now numbers 30 members.

Afterwards L16 and I went on to the National Arts Centre to enjoy one of the NACO‘s first concerts of the season.  L16’s new teacher, who is the assistant concert-master of the NAC Orchestra, mentioned that Saturday night’s concert would be one not to miss and she was right.   Pinchas Zukerman played both Mozart’s “Haffner Serenade” part of which L16 has performed herself and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.3.

Concert in the Park

Last night we spent a very enjoyable evening at an outdoor concert. The NAC and other orchestras do a series of free concerts in the park in summer. Last night’s featured Nikki Yanofsky, a sixteen year old singer from Montreal. We packed a picnic and lay out our blanket to enjoy the show.  As we arrived 75 minutes before the concert we were able to sit near the white sound tent which put us in front of two thirds of the audience.  The support artists, Time for Three were great, playing some familiar Stellae Boreales repertoire but with some interesting twists such as both violinists playing the same violin simultaneously.  Nikki Yanofsky has an amazing singing voice which you wouldn’t expect to hear if you only heard her speak.  As she chats to the audience she sounds like a sweet young girl, but as soon as the music starts she blows you away.

For the girls it was their second concert of the day as they attended the Chamberfest Rising Stars concert where two Stellae Boreales members performed.

New York

You wouldn’t know by reading here, but the violinists are as busy as ever.  The Kiwanis Music Festival in April consumed much of their time with both girls competing individually and with Stellae Boreales.  They both played very well and advanced to their respective trophy classes.

The excitement of Kiwanis pales into insignificance when compared the upcoming Stellae Boreales tour.  Both A13 and L15  leave very early on Saturday to travel by bus to New York.  While there they will pack in as much sightseeing as possible as well as 4 performances.  As both are members of the senior performance group they will be playing solos at the concerts.  You can follow the tour and photos by visiting the Stellae Boreales blog.  They arrive back home on Wednesday evening.

Concert Season

It is that time of year again when one concert is followed very closely by the next.  At the beginning of November both L15 and A 13 participated in the Kids Helping Kids concert to raise money for the Peaceful Children’s Homes in Cambodia.  L15 has been involved for several years as a soloist  but she also took some of the administration this time.  A13 performed was invited as a soloist for the first time this year.

The following weekend Stellae Boreales performed at the Young String Performers Foundation concert.  The group has been invited by the YSPF before but this time L15 was also invited to perform a solo, the first movement of Vivaldi’s Summer.  During the week Stellae Boreales performed at an Awards Gala and tomorrow morning, I have just been informed, the senior ensemble will be playing at the Senate as part of National Child Day.

Next Saturday is the November Stellae Boreales Fundraising concert, where both girls with play solos.  L15 will play all of Summer and A13 will play the 1st mvt. of the Concerto in B minor by de Beriot.

When the calendar turns over to December the concertos will be replaced (temporarily) by Christmas music as the girls play at banquets and Christmas services.  So you see some things haven’t changed in our life.

Here comes the quartet


A month ago now L and A, along with their friends H and P provided all the instrumental music for a wedding.  The bridal couple are friends of H and P who approached them about forming a quartet to play at the wedding in July.  The girls have played together many times but this was easily the most significant gig they have done.    Some of the music they already knew, but most had to be learned.  The bride chose very traditional wedding pieces including The Bridal March, Pachelbel Canon, Trumpet Voluntary and the Wedding March.   The wedding was held in a marquee in the bride’s parent’s lovely garden.  Right up until the ceremony began it poured but while the wedding proceeded the rain  took a break.   The girls played beautifully and enjoyed the experience.

There was much discussion about appropriate apparel.  The normal performance blacks were ruled out fairly early on.  H and P were invited guests and did not want to attend a wedding in black.  A and L are a little tired of their black performance dresses anyway.  Matching dresses were not considered a good choice,  they didn’t want to be mistaken for, or clash with the bridesmaids!  After a couple of joint shopping expeditions we realized that black and white is in at present and it was both pretty and professional looking.  Finding four different but co-ordinating dresses for the right price and the right size was a little tricky.  The first one we found everyone wanted so we bought it and then delayed the decision about who would get it.   Eventually we realized that we were not going to find a dress for A13.  Although she is the tallest of the four girls she is also the “smallest”.  I ended up making her one which fitted in well with the other three.