Young composer to play three shows
Published: October 24, 2013 3:00 PM
Updated: October 31, 2013 12:16 PM
A Coquitlam composer is about to present several original works in three separate classical music concerts and while that would seem extraordinary on its own, it’s notable as well that the musician is a 16-year-old girl who is yet to graduate.
Gene Emerson has been a prolific writer over the last year, creating at least seven new pieces, which she will showcase at three separate concerts (Nov. 2 in Vancouver, and Nov. 16 and 29 in Coquitlam) along with members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Emerson, a Heritage Woods student, has been playing piano since she was four years old and has composed music since she was eight. She said she draws inspiration from “different things around the world” including the recent awarding of a Nobel Prize in Literature to Canadian short story writer Alice Munro.
When she heard about Munro’s amazing win, Emerson stayed up half the night penning a classical piece for her, which will be presented at one of the concerts.
Emerson admitted it’s difficult to find time during the school year to write music but was able to work alone this summer on her pieces, which can take from a few weeks to a few months to create. She works them out on piano and then programs the notes in the computer software which prints out sheet music for the other musicians to play along side her.
Joining her for the concerts will be Zoltan Rozsnyai (cello), Jeanette Bernal-Singh (violin) and Reg Quiring (viola) with distinguished clarinet player Gene Ramsbottom joining her for her original composition duet: Suite D’Insecte.
Emerson said she is looking forward to the two pre-concerts with the final concert Nov. 29 at Evergreen Cultural Centre.
“I’m not nervous because I’m really used to playing my music. When I play in front of crowds I get so involved in playing my music that it doesn’t matter if people are there or not.”
In 2012, Emerson presented her pieces at a Unicef benefit concert at her Heritage Woods high school to much acclaim.
Emerson also plays her pieces on her YouTube Channel, and they have racked up thousands of views.
Tickets are $15-$25 for the Evergreen Cultural Centre concert on Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. The box office is 604-927-6555 http://www.evergreenculturalcentre.ca. The two pre-concert recitals are free: Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Tom Lee Music in Vancouver and Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at Tom Lee Music in Coquitlam, 104-2635 Barnet Highway.
Gene Emerson has also written an autobiography that describes her work at https://pianomusiccomposition.wordpress.com/biography/
Two Advertisements that were shown in the Georgia Straight:
Composer will showcase her work at a concert for UNICEF
A UNICEF fundraising concert at Heritage Woods secondary this Saturday will feature a series of classical pieces composed by Gene Emerson.
Emerson, who will be making her concert debut accompanied by members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, has already gathered a significant following on YouTube. Her channel has collected nearly 10,000 subscribers and a whopping 220,000 hits from around the world. In fact, most of those hits are from a surprising audience — teenagers like Emerson herself. The young composer is just 14 years old, a Grade 10 student at Heritage Woods. “I think it means our teenagers are opening up to classical music,” said Gene’s father, Eugene Emerson. Emerson started playing the piano at four years old and had penned her first piece by the time she was eight. The last two years have seen a burst of creativity as Emerson crafted about two dozen new works; each one is inspired by everything from daily life to historical events or global issues, such as climate change, war and international relations, leading her to title her YouTube page Music Link with Humanity.
The concert will feature one of Emerson’s most successful pieces, Tears of Nanjing, a trio written for piano, cello and violin that has garnered some 56,000 YouTube views and nearly 3,000 comments. Playing the latter instruments will be Vancouver Symphony Orchestra members Zoltan Rozsnyai on cello and Reg Quiring on violin. Emerson said the piece was challenging given that she doesn’t play either of the stringed instruments, but figures she’s listened to enough classical music to know what they should be doing. “You just need to know how many notes they can play, and after that it’s just what sounds pretty,” Emerson shrugged. Working with such accomplished musicians has been a tremendous learning experience as well, she added, because Rozsnyai and Quiring can give her valuable feedback when her compositions call for notes beyond the instruments’ capabilities. “It’s really flattering to know they appreciate my music as well,” Emerson said. “They really seem to enjoy playing my pieces and they treat me like a fellow musician, so it’s really nice. And with recordings of Emerson playing her compositions online, she’s also receiving feedback from fans, and fellow composers, from around the world. “It’s great because I couldn’t go and talk to them,” Emerson said, adding she’s happy to incorporate changes and suggestions from international composers.
Emerson is deeply involved in Heritage Woods’ music department, having joined the band, choir and musical theatre programs. HWSS music teacher Kathy Fester had high praise for Emerson’s talent, calling her compositions “outstanding.” “She’s highly respected internationally,” Fester said. Emerson is entering several international composer contests, including the Antonín Dvorák Competition in Korea, the ninth international Competition for Composers in Italy and the BMI Student Composer Award Competition in New York. Emerson also performed in the Sonic Boom student composers master class with acclaimed composer Owen Underhill.
The concert is a first for Heritage Woods, Fester said, and will come with all the hallmarks of a professional show, complete with ushers, intermission and concession. “It’s very exciting,” she added. ‘And it’s my wish as a music educator that it inspires teens today to have a renewed appreciation for the old classics and the new classics Gene is creating.” Emerson’s piano teacher, Rosemary O’Connor, said she couldn’t take any credit for her student’s compositions. “I put a fire into her as far as loving music, but the composing part is completely coming from her own initiative,” O’Connor said. She described Emerson as naturally musical with a melodic style. “She has a really beautiful sound and for me, it’s a reflection of the person’s personality, how it comes out in their sound,” she said. “She’s a wonderful person.” Emerson said she plans to continue composing but, after graduation, she has her sights on something entirely different — studying theoretical physics at Cambridge University.
• A Night of Classical Music with Gene Emerson is on Saturday, April 14 at Heritage Woods secondary (1300 David Ave., Port Moody). The matinee show is at 2 p.m. and an evening performance is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15/$10 , available by calling the school at 604-461-8679. Proceeds benefit UNICEF Canada.