I have, throughout my life, been a "late bloomer," so to speak. Perhaps this trait comes with having been born in October, but I have always come late to things and this tendency has included the cello as well as my education. I began university and then left and worked for seven years before returning to finish my undergraduate and graduate degrees, having reached the age of thirty-two by the time I graduated. My cello "career" also started late and has been restarted several times since as well. The earliest start occurred in my early twenties when I had just returned to Montreal from a five-month summer hitchhiking trip around Europe. While in Europe, I decided that I wanted to play the cello, just because I loved the sound of it. My early childhood musical experiences had consisted of the requisite piano lessons as well as some guitar, but I only progressed to an intermediate level with both of them. However, over the years my interest in music has been constant. I have collected music books, records, and CDs for years and I have a good collection, with chamber music being my predominate interest. Music is a part of our home life as my two daughters Gillian and Jocelyn and my wife Patti play music as well.
By contrast, my education and working career has been in the sciences and I have spent the last twenty years or so doing research in food chemistry, new food products and processes. I am currently the President and CEO of the Guelph Food Technology Centre, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Research has always been my interest and over the course of my career, I have published scientific articles, book chapters, and hold seventeen patents. Being a trained researcher, I have found the Internet to be ideally suited to my interests and I spend, probably, far too much time in the eternal quest for new ideas and information. I enjoy helping fellow "cello chatters" to track down information and have been dubbed the "Referencemeister" by a fellow denizen and friend on the Cello Chat board. Although some see science and arts as poles apart, my science and technology background has acted as a perfect foil for my interests in the arts, which over the years have included oil painting, black and white photography, and darkroom work. I have interests in antiques, furniture refinishing, woodworking and the repairing of string instruments. Outside of work, I also serve on the board of directors of a local youth music center that is currently under construction.
What has impressed me most about the Internet is the wide-open world it creates, a sort of quasi-organized anarchy, if this is possible. I feel privileged to be able to communicate with so many knowledgeable and experienced musicians, as well as share experiences with other amateurs, through the Internet Cello Society (ICS). It truly is a community of musicians of all levels of experience and with a wide range of musical tastes. Hardly a day goes by that I do not learn something new from the various posts on Cello Chat. That so many are willing to share their knowledge and experiences, in so public a forum, is truly amazing. What is even more amazing to me is the way the ICS has linked together people who would never have had a chance to "meet" each other and share their experiences, knowledge and feelings. Many friendships have been made and much private e-mail is exchanged as a result of our interactions on cello chat. It truly is a "cyber community" held together by our common love of the most beautiful of all instruments, the cello.
And so at age fifty-seven, I still take weekly cello and music theory lessons and I continue to improve, although at times it feels more like two steps forward and one back. Progress comes slowly, but does come and I am contemplating taking my grade eight conservatory exams sometime in the next year or so, as this would be, for me, a real personal achievement. My cello playing activities include frequent cello duet sessions, as well as other trio and quartet combinations. The challenge of getting four people together, all whom have busy lives outside of their music interests, is formidable, but what fun it is when it all happens and what a great feeling when all four stringed instruments are together in harmony and time. It's really not a feeling you can express in words. You have to experience it. I cannot imagine my life now without my cello, the musical friends I have made and the chamber music sessions. All of this "late blooming" activity continues to bring rewards that I could never have imagined, so many years ago.
|Direct correspondence to the appropriate ICS
Webmaster: "webmaster" Director: John Michel
Copyright © 1995- Internet Cello Society