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What’s Happening in April

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Focus on Violinist Pamella Fell

Written by Christine Fong and Pamella Fell

Pamella Fell playing first violin 3rd from the left.

Christine Fong: Hi Pam! You’ve been with CBSO for as long as I can remember! When did you start playing with us and what prompted you to do so?

Pamella Fell: I started playing with the CBSO from its inception when it was originally known as Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO). I am “one of the originals” in both orchestras. When I saw an ad in the Scarborough Mirror looking for musicians for a new orchestra in Scarborough called the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra,I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t played for quite a while so when I went to my first rehearsal I sat in the back of the first violin section to see how it would go. I never looked back from that first rehearsal. After a few years most of the musicians branched into a new orchestra called Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra with Clifford Poole as the conductor and Neil Blair as the Concert Master.

CF: What led you to pick up the violin? Did you start playing at school or did your parents send you to lessons?

PF: I was born in Los Angeles, California not knowing how fortunate I was at the time. As a saying I heard recently goes,you don’t know how good something is until you don’t have it anymore. My family lived in Malibu from when I was about 5years old for 10 years. Then we moved to Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley. When I was around 10 years old my Elementary School in Malibu had an orchestra and the school asked who would like to play in it. I decided to take up the violin (trumpet was the runner-up). This opened up a whole new world for me. After a while my parents agreed to my taking private lessons, which lead to my playing in my school orchestras up to when I graduated from High School. I actually played in my high school orchestra during my graduation ceremony in Woodland Hills, California. After I graduated from High School and worked for a few years, a friend and I decided to drive to Toronto as we heard of the Toronto Music Conservatory and we also saw pictures of the modern City Hall. It looked like a great city to live in for awhile before returning to California. I was taking private lessons in San Fernando Valley while working after High School and my teacher at the time recommended that I lookup Hyman Goodman (concert master of the TSO at the time) to continue my lessons. I did look up Hyman Goodman and took lessons with him fora while. He was an excellent teacher who insisted on my practicing 2 – 3 hours per day, much to the chagrin to my apartment neighbours. I still have the heavy-duty mute Mr.Goodman gave me when I told him about my disgruntled neighbours 😊I heard that Mr. Goodman eventually moved to California coincidentally.
In between this time I got married in Toronto to my husband, George, and had two children, Darren & Carolyn. I didn’t have much time to play the violin for a few years. Since my joining the SPO (and then the newly-formed CBSO),many musical opportunities have opened to me throughout the years in Toronto and the GTA with other orchestras and chamber groups. It has been such a great hobby and I highly recommend playing a musical instrument of any kind. I’d like to add that people can start at any age. We used to have av iolinist in the CBSO that started playing the violin in his 60’sand played in the orchestra for many years.
Violin is a musical instrument that there is always something new to learn about playing it. It is challenging but very satisfying to play.

CF: What are some of the highlights of your time on stage with the CBSO?

PF: After so many years playing with the SPO and CBSO, there are many highlights. I really enjoyed the Scarborough Civic Center Children’s Concerts. When we first started performing them, really young talented musicians were featured and Clifford Poole was great at nurturing and guiding them through their performances. Another highlight was the Wine & Cheese concerts we used to have. We played light popular music that the audience loved while having dinner and wine. I really enjoyed Robert Reines’ colourful personality and conducting. Another highlight was playing with the National Ballet School’s graduate dancers during Norman Reintamm’s time as artistic director. I also enjoyed performing operettas under his direction.

CF: I am sure that many of our patrons recognize you in the string section since you have been a stalwart member for many years. If given the chance, what would you say to our patrons waiting at home longing for a chance to come back again to enjoy live concerts?

PF: All of the CBSO musicians are anxiously waiting to perform as soon as possible. Some of us have been practicing via Zoom. We all play along with a recording while Christine Fong (CBSO’s principal Flautist)
conducts us, while giving us letters and numbers as reference so we know where we are. It has been a great way to keep us practicing and seeing some of our CBSO friends at the same time. There have been some positive things from COVID-19, one of which is that we will all appreciate even more practicing “in person” and having the opportunity to perform in a concert hall with our musician friends and seeing our wonderful audience enjoying our performances. It’s one of the things we have taken for granted and will be appreciated so much more when it’s possible again. That first concert is going to be SO MUCH FUN! Can hardly wait to see all of you again.

CF: Pam, I think we are all going to be feeling the same way when we can get together again! It’s going to be a joyful reunion! Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us and our patrons.


By Christine Fong, CBSO Principal Flautist

I am so tired of reading through articles about IT, you know, this big thing we’re all going through at the moment. I wanted to stay away from any of the usual words associated with the topic seeing as there is pretty much nothing else in the news. The numbers and statistics and cases are staggering and mind-numbing, so I wanted to take you away from all that by giving you some strategies on howto cope with it all.

For me, reading has always been a wonderful escape from life’s challenges. I have an impressive pile of books on my bedside table,but I don’t seem to be able to bring myself to pick one up and read it through.

It is much easier to pick up the ipad next to the pile of books and troll through real estate listings.It’s fun to dream of wide open spaces and beautiful vistas! But now that I think about it, would moving out east or up north improve things? And do these country houses actually get good internet?

There’s always Netflix, but I really can’t face another run-through of Downton Abbey, or Pride and Prejudice, much as I adore Colin Firth. It always helps to have something to do while watching videos, but every room in my house now has a blanket crocheted by yours truly, folded and draped artfully over a chair or a bed. In fact, every member of my family now has a blanket or basket crocheted by me in a hideous array of colour and pattern politely accepted and probably tucked away in a box marked “to be donated.”

At least we can take pleasure in watching the garden come back to life and the birdies are back to amuse us as they flit about in the bird bath. But, as Gordie pointed out just yesterday, they do drink their own bath water which, I agree, is kind of gross.

Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to fall back on my no-fail pick-me-up.
It works every time.But I only use it in extreme emergencies: a big old home-made chocolate cake spread with a very thick layer of chocolate icing!!!

Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Other News

Plans for re-opening with exciting repertoire programming for the 2021/2022 season are underway, and we can’t wait to share them with you once they are finalized!

Also for the new season, we still have very enthusiastic Conductor Candidates who are ready to take on the continuation of the Music Director’s search process starting in the Fall. We look forward to seeing them again and working on some of our most well-loved orchestral music with them.

Be sure to read our monthly newsletters for more information regarding the 2021/22 season!

Online rehearsals on Monday evenings have been going well with members sharpening their playing skills in preparation for future in-person rehearsals. Repertoire readings have included Holst’s Planets Suite, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade and Mahler’s 3rd Symphony. Despite the limitations of technology, members have found that rehearsals initiate practice as well as offer a way to socialize with fellow musicians on a regular basis. In the coming weeks, we will be reading through Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Prokofiev!

Your Support is Greatly Appreciated!

We want to reassure our CBSO patrons and community that our CBSO Board and administrators are meeting weekly and working hard to make sure that we will be able to bring music to you in Scarborough and beyond.  Thankfully our government has not forgotten about the Arts, so there are opportunities out there.  Even so, we need your help to keep things running so that we can open up again in the near future. 

To all of our dear patrons:  please consider making a donation this month in order to help us continue to be able to bring quality music to your community!

The orchestra is a registered non-profit charitable organization and provides tax receipts for donations of any amount (Charity # 89036 4573 RR0001). 

Thank you for your support!

Click on the logo below to be redirected to the orchestra’s Canada Helps page, where you can make a one-time or recurring donation via credit card.