To ring in the holiday season, nine renowned classical musicians are coming together to fundraise for the venerable Anne Burrows Music Foundation—a foundation built on providing scholarships to students studying classical music.
Among them is award-winning violinist Alissa Cheung, who has taken a sabbatical from her role with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra to complete her master's degree at Yale University.
“Having worked in the 'real world' for two years, I knew exactly what I wanted to do at school here: I wanted to improve my violin playing and improve my composition,” says Cheung, who already holds an honours degree in chemistry and attained a Bachelor of Music degree with high distinction in violin performance from McGill University. “There's just such a wealth of knowledge and information in this university community that it's daunting, but it's inspiring at the same time.”
Cheung, who chose violin over piano lessons at age four, will be performing alongside her friend Ewald Cheung, a McGill University graduate student who won the Schulich School of Music's Golden Violin Award in 2011—the largest privately funded music scholarship in Canada. The pair of virtuosos will be showcasing two movements from Prokofiev Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 56 and “Analogia,” an original composition by Cheung inspired by a fascination with fractal patterns, such as snowflakes or watching a rainfall.
“Humanly, we can sort of appreciate the pattern, but we can't quite figure it out,” she says. “I mean, there are mathematical formulas that they are writing to try and express this in terms of math, but even just the beauty of looking at a mountain; there's beauty in the small scale and beauty in the large scale.”
Discovering and portraying beauty in unexpected ways ties back to Cheung using music as an effective form of self-expression.
“There are just certain emotions and ideas that I find very difficult to express in words,” says Cheung, who will go back to teaching when she returns to Edmonton following her studies at Yale. “You can help people grow and that moment when they play that one passage or realize that, 'Hey, I can be creative with this,' and they find their own identity and find their own self-expression, it kind of liberates people, which is another reason why I love music.”
Thu, Dec 27 (6:30 pm)
The Opus 33 – Christmas Fundraising Concert
Giovanni Yamaha Concert Hall (10528 Mayfield Road), $25