When she strikes the first few notes of Six Variations on Land of the Silver Birch, Nicole Lassetter hopes her audience is transported into a canoe, drifting down river.
As the blue lake gets choppy and wind whips waves along the rocky shore, the rhythm picks up.
The composition by Pierre Gallant is a favourite of Lassetter, who first sang the song with her class in Grade 1.
With lyrics based on a poem by First Nations poet Pauline Johnson, it’s pure Canadiana.
“It’s meant to be sung around a campfire or keep the beat while you are rowing a canoe,” the Pitt Meadows elementary student explains.
The 12-year-old will be performing the composition at Dan Wardrope’s 17th fall piano concert at Swan-e-Set Golf Club in Pitt Meadows on Sunday.
Since it began, the sell-out concert held annually in fall has raised more than $25,000 for charities, including the Friends In Need Food Bank, B.C. Cancer Foundation and World Vision, since 2005.
It features performances by students studying at Grade 10 or diploma level with the Royal College of Music.
This year, the money raised will go to Free the Children.
Lassetter prefers playing modern compositions, pieces that speak to her heart and paint vivid pictures.
“I like more present pieces, newer songs that have a more contemporary feel,” says Lassetter, who has been practising daily for more than an hour to perfect Land of the Silver Birch.
Lillian Zhang will be performing at the annual concert for a third time.
The 13-year-old will play Chopin-Berceuse, a lullaby and a second piece from Rachmaninoff’s Études.
“The lullaby is really pretty and just so peaceful,” says Zhang, a student at Citadel Middle School.
“I wanted to go for a contrast between the two pieces. It’s kind of amazing how one instrument can create so many different moods and themes.”
The Rachmaninoff composition is inspired by Russian military music, with big chords and big harmonies.
Practicing for the concert has been a bit of a test, requiring Zhang to switch moods. She usually gets her blood pumping and fingers flying with Rachmaninoff and winds down with the Chopin lullaby.
“I like that challenge,” says Zhang.
“I love playing this concert because you get to inspire people. You want to make a difference.”
The 17th annual fall piano concert takes place Sunday Nov. 3 at Swan-e-Set Golf Club in Pitt Meadow. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The concert starts at 7 p.m. In addition to Lassetter and Zhang, it will feature Andrew Croswell, Sharissa Braaksma, Paul Westlund, Michaela
Durovic, Edward Liang, Eliza Lim and Nicole Willemsen. Program will feature Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and three other 20th century works by two Canadian and one American composer. It will also include two classical vocal performances in both French and German.
Tickets are $14 and include coffee or tea and a cookie or a muffin at the intermission. For tickets, call 604-818-8853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.