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Gregory Lewis performs on the violin.

Ice storm leads to performance opportunity

May 4, 2017 — 

Gregory Lewis, who is graduating in June with a Bachelor of Music (violin), performed Brahms’ Violin Concerto with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra on April 27 when their original soloist, Jennifer Koh, was delayed by a major ice storm. Lewis happened to be in Thunder Bay performing as a sessional violinist with the TBSO for the last two weeks of their season and had played the concerto for his undergraduate recital. When it became clear Ms Koh would not be able to make it to Thunder Bay on time, word quickly spread among the orchestra members that Lewis knew the piece.

In an email correspondence Lewis writes, “I got invited to perform the concerto on one day’s notice. I only had 45 minutes between my invitation and the first rehearsal, and I hadn’t played the concerto since my recital on March 3rd. However, the opportunity was too incredible to pass up, and I was adventurous enough to test my ability to pull out a 45 minute concerto in 45 minutes!

“The first rehearsal had a few passages that weren’t ideal, but overall it was very reassuring that I was capable of bringing back the concerto on such short notice. I went home and had an evening to practice before the dress rehearsal the next morning, and by the dress, everything was polished and ready to go! It made for an incredibly stressful 24 hours, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Knowing I can bring back and memorize a work that long on such short notice helps eliminate any sort of future performance stress, as nothing I face in the future will beat this in terms of urgency and time restraints.”

Lewis’ playing received an enthusiastic response from his hometown audience. Michael Sobota of the The Chronicle Journal writes that “His technical command of the work was beautiful to experience. At its dramatic conclusion the audience lept to their feet and Lewis was called back to the stage for three ovations.”

Before he begins his graduate studies at Yale University in September 2017, Lewis will continue his training with the National Academy Orchestra of Canada (NAO) in Hamilton, Ontario. Caroline Bucher, who will graduate from the Desautels Faculty of Music in June with a Bachelor of Music (percussion), will also be joining the prestigious NAO for their intense summer program.

Lewis will be returning to Winnipeg this fall to perform alongside pianist Paul Williamson in the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg’s annual concert series. Williamson, who begins his fourth year in the Desautels Faculty of Music this September, recently won first prize in the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Association National Competition. The concert will be held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 15, 2017.

Learn more about Gregory Lewis’s journey

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