CPO Performance Highlights a Musical Family Affair

When the Calgary Philharmonic (CPO) performs at United’s communities, it’s a special event that attracts a lot of attention. But when one of the performers is the granddaughter of a resident, the performance adds a little something more.

Helen van der Sloot keeps the beat as Maria plays a short piece for her
Helen van der Sloot keeps the beat as Maria plays a short piece for her.

This week, United Active Living’s partnership with the Calgary Philharmonic was front and centre when four violinists from the orchestra performed an hour-long program of well-known classics from Bach to Gershwin at United’s Garrison Green community. Residents from Garrison Green and Fish Creek attended the concert. In the audience was Garrison Green resident Helen van der Sloot. Her granddaughter is Maria van der Sloot, a first violinist with the CPO. Maria is a featured performer with the orchestra, has won numerous prizes and has performed throughout North America.

“I enjoyed the performance very much,” said Helen, after watching Maria play.

Maria was raised in a musical family. Helen was self-taught on the piano, Maria’s brother plays piano, and Maria’s parents both play violin. “Music is a family affair, and we would often get together at Christmas and play. My brother played piano, so naturally I wanted to out-do him, so at six, I started to play the violin.” Her brother now plays cello and is a composer.

Maria’s musical talent shines through her instrument. She studied at the New England Conservatory and the San Francisco Conservatory. At 27 she on the faculty of the Valhalla Summer School of Music, the Calgary Multicultural Orchestra and the Calgary Music Academy. She joined the CPO as first violinist last year.

Maria van der Sloot shares a personal moment with her grandmother, Helen
Maria van der Sloot shares a personal moment with her grandmother, Helen.

“I really enjoy playing in smaller venues like the Garrison Green community,” said Maria. “It’s much different than the concert hall, and I really enjoy the reactions when we play something everyone knows. It was very special to play here for my grandmother.”

The CPO is one of a dozen of United’s musical and cultural partners that bring professional performers into the two communities. For this concert, the CPO quartet, made up of Maria, Stephanie Soltice, Steven  Lubiarz and Lorna Tsai, performed a range of favourites that had the residents singing and laughing along.

“I love music,” said Helen. “I was so very proud to hear Maria play. I had tears in my eyes!”

Photos and videos by Sherana Productions.

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