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  • 8 Jan 2021 2:03 PM | Rolf Bertsch

    I came across these fantastic observations about piano teaching by Parisian pianist Monique Deschaussées (translation by Lisa Kristin). I couldn't agree more!

    “Being a teacher requires uncommon psychological qualities – a capacity to receive the other, a deep knowledge of people, an ability to adapt. It’s not enough to sit at the piano and say, 'Look at how I do it.' That’s about projection or imitation, not pedagogy. Students take piano lessons to learn what they don’t know; they need us to guide them and explain why they are encountering difficulties. That’s why the teacher is there – to eliminate those difficulties so that the student is freed. Being a teacher also requires the ability to give of oneself with love, to make human contact, as it’s not enough to just teach a student how to play an instrument. You have to help them to realize who they are, what their purpose is, how to become adults… And in addition to everything I’ve outlined here, which is important in undergirding true teachers, there are areas of knowledge that need years of study in the humanities, philosophy, and spirituality. A great teacher never stops searching, first for the self, and then on behalf of others…"

    “Pedagogy is an important part of my life, but it isn’t my entire life. I dislike those who invest their identities in their students; as soon as those students move on, these teachers die on the inside. Parents know their children will leave one day to make their own lives. Nothing is more natural. So students should be helped, but not possessed by the teacher. Students shouldn’t feel bound, either; young people need freedom above all else. All artists – all people – have the desire to feel free…"

    “Competition never made anyone grow, and even less so in music. I won’t go as far as to say with Charles Ives that 'prizes are the symbols of mediocrity', but we ought to recognize there’s some truth in that. Personally, I believe it is possible to achieve a high level, both technically and artistically, without taking on prejudice against others and wanting to crush them. Coming together toward a common goal seems much more advantageous to me. My students understand that the word 'competition' has no place in my studio...."

    “An expansive technique can certainly facilitate interpretation in that it liberates the artist from physical limitations…but if instrumentalists are fascinated by power and motivated by limitless abilities, they can find themselves led by it, and thus lose sight of the ultimate expressiveness of art. They are heading toward a stadium, not a concert hall".

  • 4 Jan 2021 11:48 AM | Manon Mitchell (Administrator)

    We're still in lockdown and can't rehearse yet however we're busy preparing short videos which, we hope, will keep you in touch with our Civic and players. 

    We'll post, hopefully weekly, a short video on our "Behind the Scenes" web page under the "Watch & Listen" menu.

    Here's a link to our first video where you get to meet Osmond Chiu, our principal violist. 

    By the way, if you were to associate composers with ice cream flavors, who would you associate with Lemon Lime Sherbert?

  • 23 Dec 2020 7:01 PM | Manon Mitchell (Administrator)

    All of us at the Calgary Civic Symphony would like to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Season's Greetings.

    Some of us had a little fun with Christmas tunes and prepared a light hearted video about our Christmas Tunes from a Hat.

    Enjoy our little gift to you!

    It's on youtube so just click here.

    All the best for 2021!

  • 18 Dec 2020 8:37 AM | Manon Mitchell (Administrator)
    On this occasion of the mighty

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ludwig van Beethoven's 250th birthday, I pause to reflect on the wonderful times I have had with him, for I feel we spend time not only with the music of the great composers, but also with their humanity. Over a lifetime of several decades, I have had the fortune of playing many of his sonatas for piano, violin, and cello. Likewise, I have played some of his greatest chamber music, including the "Kakadu" variations and "Archduke" trio with cellist Ernst Silberstein, longtime principal of The Cleveland Orchestra

    ; my father was the violinist.

    I'll never forget Mr. Silberstein telling me that my performance of Brahms 2nd concerto, for which he was guest principal cello, reminded him of his performances of that work with Rudolf Serkin. My first piano concerto was Beethoven's 1st, which I performed during my years at Phillips Academy, Phillips Academy Class of 1974.

    I also have the opportunity to perform the 3rd and 5th concertos. I have conducted all 9 symphonies at least once, along with many of the piano concertos, and the Triple Concerto (this with Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth and three different pianists - Andrew Burashko, Louis Lortie, and Janina Fialkowska).

    I recently conducted excerpts from his only opera, Fidelio, with the Calgary Civic Symphony and Calgary Concert Opera Company.


    I have had the pleasure of teaching and coaching Beethoven's music to numerous students. Through all of that experience and living with Beethoven's music, I think the highlight has been my experiences conducting the 9th - 3 times. Each time has brought me closer to the "truth", although I still feel I'm wrestling with the slow movement. The last time, the emotion of the work left me in tears as the last few triumphant bars concluded this incredible musical voyage, this testament to humanity. What an extraordinary artistic, philosophical, and human legacy this giant left us!

    Rolf Bertsch
    December 17, 2020

  • 15 Dec 2020 2:31 PM | Manon Mitchell (Administrator)

    Join us for an entertaining musical evening in company of Maestro Rolf Bertsch. He'll present interesting insights into the world of orchestral music. 

    Just register for the FREE event to receive the private ZOOM link.

    See you Monday December 21st at 7:30 pm for our continuing MMM series.

    Just click here  for the event registration.

  • 4 Dec 2020 2:42 PM | Manon Mitchell (Administrator)

    Even if we can't present live performances we can certainly stay in touch with you and engage online.

    We will begin our "Behind the Scenes" series in mid December. Watch for more news on this shortly!

  • 4 Dec 2020 2:40 PM | Manon Mitchell (Administrator)

    As you can imagine we are truly disappointed in not being able to perform a Christmas concert for you. Our musicians are looking forward to the day when we can present great orchestral music again.

    Thank you to all our patrons who have graciously donated their ticket purchase to the orchestra. This will ensure that we will be here for you when things open up again.

  • 16 Nov 2020 6:52 PM | Manon Mitchell (Administrator)

    It is with great regret that the next two weeks of rehearsals are canceled (Nov 16 & Nov 23).  Given the rise in new Covid-19 cases and further clarification concerning the Alberta Government's recent Targeted Public Health Measuresthis action is being taken with everyone's health and safety in mind and in the spirit of the Civic doing its part to reduce the spread of Covid-19.  This decision is not a reflection on the facilities and protocols in place at Arts Commons.  They are excellent, and we are fortunate to rehearse in that space.  Rather, this temporary halt to rehearsals is about limiting unintentional mixing between different cohorts.

    So in the meantime, continue practicing.  All going according to plan, our next rehearsal is on Monday, Nov. 30.  Additional rehearsal will be needed in order to play our Dec. 6th concert.  Please stay tuned for more information, and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

    John Chik

  • 11 Nov 2020 4:47 PM | Manon Mitchell (Administrator)

    We are pleased to announce that members of the Calgary Civic Symphony has begun rehearsals. But rehearsals are not as they usually are of course!

    The orchestra is rehearsing in smaller sections:

    • Strings (violins, violas, celli,  string bass)
    • Wood winds (flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons)
    • Brass (trumpets, french horns, trombones, tuba)

    We are planning to perform for the public some time in December. Stay tuned and we'll let you know when and where as soon as we have the details!

    In the meantime enjoy listening to some music!

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