Mothers Day concert takes learning the piano to a whole new level

Students perform at the Bell Centre May 11 along with Lions Gate Sinfonia, and pianist Ian Parker.

Students of the South Fraser Branch of the B.C. Registered Teachers' Association (seen here with conductor Clyde Mitchell) present a special Mother's Day Concert at the Bell Centre.

Students of the South Fraser Branch of the B.C. Registered Teachers' Association (seen here with conductor Clyde Mitchell) present a special Mother's Day Concert at the Bell Centre.

For 20 young piano students, it’s the performance of a life time.

On May 12, students of the South Fraser Branch of the B.C. Registered Teachers’ Association present a special Mother’s Day Concert at the Bell Centre.

The students, aged 7 to 14, will be accompanied by the Lions Gate Sinfonia orchestra, and wearing formal dress and tuxes – all in front of up to 1,000 audience members.

The experience is something most piano students in their formative years can only dream about, says Brenda Sleightholme, chair of Concerto Stars.

As an added concert flourish, the dynamic pianist Ian Parker will be playing two “crowd pleasers,” says Sleightholme – Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, by Rachmaninoff, which happens to be be Parker’s favourite.

Forty students in all were chosen in round one of auditions in November. The second round – held in front of conductor Clyde Mitchell and Anita Coomba in January – made students feel comfortable and happy with the experience of playing under pressure.

Two piano students from Cloverdale will be performing, Soheyla Sodhi, 7, who attends Sunnyside Elementary in South Surrey, who’s in Grade 1 piano, and Hannah Sheltens, 14, a Grade 7 piano student.

“The opportunity to play in an orchestra will really inspire me to keep taking music lessons so I can become a great musician,” Sodhi says.

The Lions Gate Sinfonia appear across the Lower Mainland in special presentations and collaborative concerts with partner organizations, says Sleightholme. The organization is particularly engaged in providing educational programming aimed at inspiring and motivating students in the community.

“We are grateful to Clyde Mitchell for taking the time to choose some interesting piano repertoire from preliminary to Grade 9 level, and adding orchestral accompaniment. This takes the art of learning to play the piano to a whole new level.”

The concert is designed to appeal to anyone who take piano lessons, she says.

“Perhaps they will be inspired as to some of the possibilities.”

For many of the participants and audience members, the performance will be their fist exposure to a professional orchestra, says Susan Olsen, president of the South Fraser Branch, adding it will also show the level of hard work and dedication it takes to achieve this level of performance.

“For the parents watching their child take part, the whole process gives them a wider appreciation of why their child is taking piano lessons. And, for our Branch, this shows the opportunities available through our Registered Music Teachers Association.”

The concert is at 7 p.m. May 12 at the Bell Centre. Tickets are $30 for adults, and $24 for seniors and students.

Contact the office at 604-507-6355 or visit www.bellperformingartscentre.com for tickets.

Students perform at the Bell Centre May 11 along with Lions Gate Sinfonia, and pianist Ian Parker.