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    Music Memory - Peter Oundjian

    Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the "Music For Memory Project":  a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit alz.to.

    This week we hear from Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) Music Director Peter Oundjian.

    “It was a frantic time, The TSO's 90th anniversary celebration with Itzhak Perlman.  I was at home and in a fairly relaxed mood a couple of days before Christmas. On a whim, it just came out of my mouth. “How about I play the Bach Double with Itzhak?”  After all, he was my teacher and someone for whom I have an unrivaled level of respect. Wouldn't that be just a great experience?  Done, agreed!

    I first played the Bach double concerto  as a young kid in South London alongside another child violinist. Not the usual play date for little kids, but we played this incredible concerto together and the power of its expression and haunting beauty has never left me.It was  an extraordinary discovery of the exponential power of melding instruments together.

    The concert with Itzhak was scheduled for April 28th so started practicing in earnest in January. I hadn't practiced the violin in more than 15 years and I was curious to see how my formally dysfunctional left hand would react. Within two weeks I was completely discouraged. The lack of left hand control that had made me stop playing publicly in 1995 seemed even more hazardous. there was no way I could possibly go forward with this performance. I braced myself to dial Itzhak's number because I knew he would be bitterly disappointed.

    It was a long conversation I will never forget. He spoke of overcoming obstacles - which he had done throughout his life. I was deeply moved by his concern, his inquisitiveness, his advice and his emotional support.  How could I possibly not perform?

    Walking on stage with two violins and two bows in my hands, Roy Thomson Hall packed to the rafters, was pretty terrifying. But music carries us in extraordinary ways. The memory of the support I felt from Itzhak, the members of the TSO and every person in the hall remains an inspiration to this day.”

    Photo by: Sian Richards

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