MEMBERSHIP SPOTLIGHT


Michele Pedlar

Membership Spotlight Mark this date down for the first time ever since I've started visiting the ICS, I am experiencing writer's block. Can you imagine? Me having trouble thinking of how to express myself !? (Tim didn't tell me that beginners don't usually write these things !!)

A fellow chatter, upon my sharing that I was invited to write a spotlight, jokingly said "What? You mean there are actually a few people on the ICS who don't know everything about you?"

I've been playing a little over a year now and as I look back over the past twelve months, even though I enjoy pointing jabs towards myself in relation to my cellistic shortcomings, I am so proud of my improvement, especially of late. It seems that everything is finally starting to come together.

The cello is a second time around of sorts for me, musically speaking. I have a background in a few woodwinds, studied privately during my high school years and for a while had plans of pursuing these studies at university (clarinet, performance), but you know how it is just when you think you have your goals in life figured out, they can change in an instant. I ended up gearing my studies towards the legal field and although I continued to play in a local orchestra, once I started out in the working world over time my music gradually fell by the wayside. Eventually I gave it up entirely. (If you ever have the need to be entertained for a couple hours, just bring up this period of my life with my parents ! LOL )

Skip ahead 15 years. I was on a trip to Toronto and attended a performance of the TSO. I can't recall the name of the piece during which it happened, but I recall the sensation of goose bumps. They brought a smile to my face, because they were the same ones that I used to experience when I played in the orchestra, being enveloped by such gorgeous sound. I realized at that point, how much I missed my musical studies, and that I wanted to experience that sensation, those very addictive goose bumps, in my life again regularly.

Many people have asked me why I didn't continue studying a woodwind. I guess at this point in my life I am craving change along with enrichment. I've always wanted to study a stringed instrument, and had fallen in love with the soulful sound of the cello ages ago. So this time around it, the choice was simple.

There have been many high points for me this year, each of them a very pleasant "first". Purchasing my first instrument (until, of course, I found out that the dealer was less than reputable Michele learns a valuable lesson in relation to misplaced trust !!), attending an NACO concert featuring Lynn Harrell as soloist; I can still recall his left hand, during one of the pieces it was moving so effortlessly and quickly it was almost a blur! Having the opportunity to finally hear Yo-Yo live, and spending time with him at a private reception following the concert. What can I say about that experience other than it was a dream realized?

Then there was the saga of my hunt for a teacher. I couldn't believe at the time that in a city the size of Ottawa it would be such an involved, challenging task . My problem was that I knew what I was looking for, and I wasn't prepared to settle for less: I wanted someone who loved what they did, who had a gift musically as well as in the ability to instruct. This turned out to be an almost elusive combination! After a month of searching, and trial lessons I made arrangements to visit Don Whitton, former principal cellist of the NACO. Such a gracious man, so generous with his time -- at the conclusion of our meeting, he gave me a short list of teachers that he held in high regard. The name at the top of his list was a fellow by the name of Kirk Starkey. Now, I had been referred to Kirk already by a few well respected people in the Ottawa music community; in fact, he was so highly regarded in their eyes that initially I came to the decision that there absolutely wasn't any point in contacting him, surely he wouldn't have the time in his schedule for a such a rank beginner. Well, more time went by, more trial lessons, and I still hadn't experienced success. I finally decided to at least contact Kirk; I was still convinced that he wouldn't take me on but thought that perhaps he could give me a referral or two. To make a long story short, we eventually did manage to connect and it wasn't very long into our first meeting when I knew that the fit I had been searching for was there. I can't tell you how thrilled I was when he agreed to take me on as a student. His endless patience and engaging sense of humour are equaled by his talent. I confess that some of my favourite moments during my lessons are when I have the opportunity to simply listen to him play his tone and ability to impart emotion into music leave this beginner awe struck on occasion; if I manage to some day be a third of what he is, I'll be a very happy girl.

I am currently making my way through Suzuki 2 (waging a fierce battle with second position. . .I know I'll be victorious !); my goal is to some day play in a chamber group, and perhaps in a community orchestra. I must admit, studying the cello has been one of the more challenging facets in my life of late, but at the same time one of the most enjoyable. When things are "good", and I can feel the sound ring in my cello, well, I can't describe my smile during those times. (As for those "bad" moments no one can grimace like I can !! Perk discovered in relation to studying a stringed instrument: one can swear like a sailor and play simultaneously ! )

As for the non-music facets of my life, many of you are aware that spending time in the kitchen and entertaining are my other passion. I've been a die hard foodie since I was a little girl, and can vividly remember planning and cooking Sunday dinners for my parents from about 10 onward. I've spent time at a few community colleges taking continuing education courses in haute cuisine, as well as the cuisines of different ethnicities and wine appreciation, a few of which I've had the pleasure of taking with my mother. Mom is something else -- she actually was busted once by one of the chefs for sneaking into the refrigerator and snacking on the bittersweet chocolate intended for preparation of that particular session's dessert. (I come by it honestly, folks!) Some of my other hobbies/interests include gardening, golf, antiques and quilting. The American Civil War era is one of my favourite reading topics and I gained great enjoyment from being a member of a local Civil War Round Table, serving on its executive for a number of years. My other major musical interest is jazz, an off shoot of which is my deep affection for crooners: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Mel Torme, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett and endless others grace my cd player constantly; I am as dedicated a Rat Pack kitten as they come, baby !!

A shameless animal lover, my "children" are Winston, a two year old lhasa apso who has his mommy tightly wrapped around his little paw, and two tortoiseshell cats, Tabasco and Zinfandel.

Of course, this rambling of mine wouldn't be complete without my mentioning what an enriching, educational and fun experience visiting the ICS has been. I was made to feel welcome the moment that I posted the first time; I've had so many enjoyable exchanges on the boards with many of you since.. And what can I say about the chat room gang? I haven't ever met so many supportive, fun/crazy people who are so easy to waste time with. You are the best ! Okay . . . a couple of them are just plain NASTY, but they shall remain nameless -- y'all KNOW who you are !! ;)

I wish you all happy cello-ing!

Michele Pedlar


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