Amateurs and pros making beautiful music together at Winspear
Rusty Musicians Summer Camp welcomes participants to pick up an old instrument and take lessons from some of the best musicians in Edmonton.
“We generally see people who play in amateur ensembles, who haven’t played in 10 years or just want to be challenged,” said musical creativity coordinator, Larissa Agosti. “It’s an intensive camp, where you play with an orchestra and spend time honing and learning your instrument again, rediscovering it.”
Non-professionals are paired with an Edmonton Symphony Orchestra musician.
John Boyd is an amateur bass player. The 78-year-old first began playing bass at the age of 11.
“I took about three months of piano, I hated it,” said Boyd. “The music teacher came around and asked if I had ever considered playing the bass. I said, ‘it’s been in my mind for years’, which is not true. But, I took up the bass and I’ve never regretted it.”
Boyd kept on playing throughout his youth, then into his adult years.
“[My wife and I] went to music camps in British Columbia for 20 years, but the drive and the distance was [a bit much]. Then, we discovered Edmonton was starting one up.”
That’s where Boyd met his bass mentor, Toscha Turner.
“I’ve been learning some things I wish I had been taught when I was 11. I’ve been doing some [bad technique] for 60 years!” said Boyd.
Turner says it’s been a two-way street.
“Being able to work with John is such a gift. So often, as a professional musician, you play to put food on your table. So, being able to re-frame that into a joyous activity…it truly was an honour and a blessing,” she said.
“It changed my perspective on how I approach my practice.”
For the duo, music is something that’s been intricate in some of the biggest moments of their lives.
“Something I’ve never told my wife, I sold my bass to buy an engagement ring,” said Boyd.
Then, when he and his wife moved to Canada from Scotland, he saw a posting for a bass.
“I shot out, ran home with it and joined local orchestras. Edmonton is a superb city for music. It’s marvelous.”
LISTEN BELOW: Adult summer camp brings musicians together
Turner began playing bass at 11, just as Boyd did. She’s been playing casually with the Symphony since the early 2000s, and then was approached to be a mentor.
“It was a transformative experience for me. [Music is] the way that I move through the world, it gives me perspective on how things fit together.”
Boyd seconds the sentiment.
“Some people go home at night and have [a drink] to relax. We can go home and pick up the bass and your mind is totally somewhere else.”
The second year of Rusty Musicians Summer Camp wraps up on Sunday with a concert performance.
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