Sunday, August 08, 2010

Mendelssohn Octet

Seven years ago my dad was dying of lymphoma. He organized a family reunion that summer, bringing my sister, my brother and his family from Ontario, and my other brother and his family from England. The anchoring event for the reunion was a "performance" of Mendelssohn's Octet. My dad loved the rare occasions when his whole family had played chamber music together, and with us widely dispersed geographically, the Mendelssohn seemed a fitting large-scale work to celebrate us being drawn together again, one last time. My sister, my mom and my brother played violin, joined by a friend from Nelson. My sister-in-law and I played viola, and my brother and a local friend played cello. We held one hilarious and chaotic rehearsal and then the next day we played through the whole thing under the tea-house pagoda at the local Japanese garden. Erin and Noah were 9 and 6 at the time. They remember it well.

This summer they performed the Mendelssohn Octet themselves. Erin, Noah, two other local kids, three friends from the Okanagan and another cellist who spends summers half an hour away were placed together in an octet during the SVI. They spent the week in master classes, group classes, choir, orchestra rehearsals, and rehearsing the octet's magnificent first movement. And they performed at the final Ensembles Concert. My dad would have been so proud to see the next generation taking on this great work a mere seven years later!


  1. Anonymous9:09 p.m.

    Such a great piece...written by a teen, and here played by teens! How cool is that? One of my retired chamber music buddies used to invite special friends to play the M. every year on the last night of our favorite music workshop. She brought her own set of parts, each signed on the front by all the people who'd played that part in her "last night" groups.


  2. Wow. I wish my son had a group of contemporaries like that to play around with around here!

  3. Hello Miranda,
    I'm making a programme for BBC Radio in the UK about people whose lives have been touched by Mendelssohn's Octet. If you are interested in taking part in this programme, would you kindly email me at

    Many thanks


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