Mary Fenwick doesn’t have time to sit around. The energetic 91-year-old is too busy learning the piano, going to concerts and taking art classes. When she first arrived at United’s Active Living’s Garrison Green community five years ago, Mary rediscovered her love of piano. She hadn’t touched a piano in more than 30 years, but the Steinway in the corner intrigued her, and she found she wanted to get back to those familiar keys.
“I called the Mount Royal University Conservatory and asked them if they had a piano teacher who can teach someone who hasn’t played in 30 or 40 years,” said Mary. “Kathy Dornian offered to teach me. She is such a highly respected teacher and musician, I was thrilled. I practice now for two hours a day. She gave me a Chopin nocturne to start with, which is a challenge, but I’m getting there with it!”
In Saturday night’s Sounds of the Season concert, Mary will perform Hark the Herald Angels Sing on stage with the Calgary Youth Orchestra, choir and the Heebee-jeebees.
“When Kathy suggested I take part in the concert, I thought I would simply be part of the choir, but when she suggested I play the piano, that was something else! I’m a little nervous about it, but I’ve been practicing every day so I’m confident I will give it my best. After all, it’s Christmas!”
Since starting lessons with Kathy, Mary has expanded her repertoire to include minuets by Beethoven and Bach, Voices of Spring by Strauss, and the Spanish love song, La Paloma.
“I remember when I first started, someone asked me why I was taking up piano again at my age, and I replied that I wasn’t doing it to become a concert pianist, I was doing it for my own joy, for my soul! And I’m getting so much fun from it,” said Mary.
Mary is very appreciative of the approach that United takes to encourage the arts – music, theatre, dance, painting.
“That’s why Garrison Green is such a great place to live. We have so much going on here. We go to the CPO, the opera, and they come here. And all of these things stimulate you,” said Mary.
One of the groups on stage will be Calgary’s a capella group the Heebee-jeebees. “We’re excited about this performance because we will have a very young performer in the Dec. 11 concert and Mary – our most mature performer – performing tonight,” said Heebee-jeebee Jonathan Love. “It’s all about the sharing of music, especially at Christmastime.”
United’s Garrison Green community, where Mary lives, has been named a winner in the Calgary Herald’s Readers’ Choice Awards.
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