By Pierre Yves Gagnon - Oakville, Ontario
Earlier this year, Carmen Evans and Susan Beth Barak and I were discussing organizing a Viola Day to gather Ontarian violists in one place where they could enjoy the rich sound of their instrument together. We agreed that this year’s Suzuki Association of Ontario Conference in Etobicoke would be an ideal time to host such an event.
Viola group lessons can be a challenge to organize. Outside of larger programs, there are often only a handful of violists within a school or a studio. As a result, they often have to join a cello or a violin group class, which can be awkward for them. Viola Day offers these isolated violists an opportunity to meet fellow violists and discover what their instrument truly sounds like.
Our first Viola Day took place on Saturday, November 10 at Humber College in Etobicoke as part of the SAO Conference’s Student Day. Fifteen violists, ranging from Twinkles to Viola Book7 and beyond, attended this event. This number allowed the organizers to offer three different groups: a viola play-in, a Book1-3 session and a Book4 and up session. The conference orchestra was very pleased to have such a large influx of violists.
We brought together such a large range of abilities by offering the participants a viola choir repertoire that could cater to the junior students while satisfying the advanced students. I arranged a few pieces that included open strings and easily played accompaniments for the pieces performed. Ensemble for Viola, Volumes1 and 2, provided duet parts to accompany the early Suzuki viola repertoire.
On behalf of the Suzuki Viola community, we would like to thank the organizing committee of the SAO Conference2018, and in particular Margot Jewell, for having accommodated our event. This was an important step in promoting a collaborative community of violists in Ontario. We are planning to host another Viola Day at the next SAO Conference on November 2–3, 2019 in Guelph.