Over the last 32 years, Debut Atlantic has been one of Canada’s most prestigious classical music touring organizations, promoting Canadian artists like cellist Denise Djokic and Fredericton opera singer Measha Brueggergosman.
The next classical music concert presented by Debut Atlantic, in conjunction with the Moncton Community Concert Association, features violinist Boson Mo and pianist Philip Chiu. The duo will perform this Friday night at Moncton’s First Church of the Nazarene. Their program will include music from the oeuvres of Bartok, Szymanowski and more.
Boson Mo has been playing the violin since the age of seven, after starting on the piano at age four. Taken to a classical music concert by his father, Mo fell in love with the violin almost instantly.
‘I was immediately attracted to the lyrical quality and clarity of sound that the violin offered,’ Boson says.
Boson’s decision to change musical instruments proved to be a prophetic one. As a soloist as well as a chamber musician, he has earned numerous distinctions on national and international levels. Some of his achievements include the W. Harvey Award for the Best Small Ensemble Performance by the Canadian Music Educators’ Association, first prize at the Canadian Music Competition and third prize at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition. Boson also received the Prix Joseph-Rouleau at the 2010 Montréal International Violin Competition. Mo has also been given the opportunity to work with some of classical music’s most renowned artists including Roger Tapping, Donald Weilerstein and Paul Katz.
In 2006 at a violin competition in Montreal, Boson met one of the jury’s members, Keqiang Li, and was taken under Li’s wing. Boson says Li has taught him to him to think ‘outside the box’ over the course of the last half-decade, and that has inspired him the most.
‘Initially, I had taken a lesson with him thinking it would be nice to take a step up from where I was at,’ Boson says. ‘I was given the opportunity to hear one of his students and was just immediately struck by how big of an impression that his student’s musicality had upon me.
‘Prior to having worked with him, I don’t feel as though I was quite as imaginative as I could have been. What he has taught me is to think outside of the box more when it comes to my music.’
Mo’s musical partner this coming Friday night is the personable Philip Chiu, an acclaimed pianist in his own right. Hailed for the brilliance and sensitivity of his play ing, Philip has toured throughout Canada with violinist Andrew Wan, pianist Janelle Fung and cellist Genevieve Guimond.
Ironically, had it not been for his very persistent and determined father, Chiu would have given up the piano altogether.
‘My brother started piano lessons before I had so I kind of figured that it was my destiny to start,’ Philip says. ‘He eventually quit but I continued on until the time I was 13 years old or so. I was a rather lazy student though, and I just didn’t see the reason to carry on what I was doing.’
‘And then one day, I ripped up all of my piano books and my father ended up taping them back together,’ Chiu says, laughing as he recalls the memory. ‘My dad convinced me to keep playing the piano until I finished high school and told me that if I wanted to give it up at the time, I was free to do so. I often credit my father as having had a sixth sense about these things though, because few days now pass by where I am not thankful for not having given up.’ Philip says over much of the last five years, he has shied away from solo work somewhat, indulging in performing chamber music with others. While he doesn’t foresee abandoning performing with others, he says he would like to place more emphasis on solo performance in the near future.
Philip also says he hopes he will be able to take his music to international audiences. To date, his performances have been limited to Canada and the United States, and while the 28-year-old is grateful for the opportunities he has been given, he knows there is a mighty big world out there to be seen yet.
‘I would love to see what else is out there,’ he says. ‘Specifically, I have my sights set on Europe as that was the birthplace for the composers that I have come to love. There is a lot of musical history to be found there.
‘I have been very fortunate to have performed with people from all over the world. I am very lucky to be where I am and do what I do every day. If you had told me when I tore up my music books that I would have found such a passion for music at this stage of my life, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.’
Article published in the November 20, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript