*Heather Morrison (BA MUSIC HONOURS PERFORMANCE,
A Few Remarks in Sonata Form
Exposition: Introduction of themes.
1st theme: In July of 1969, I was driving
into Sudbury with Valerie Ellis (Fisher) to try a piano exam.
On that trip she insisted that I contact a most wonderful
teacher at Western – a Dr. Bratuz. Listening to Valerie,
one could almost believe that such a contact would change
the course of one's musical life.
I have with me this evening two pieces of paper, which to
the untrained eye would seem of little consequence, but some
profound nostalgia has caused me to tuck them away in a safe
place for all these years. One is a sheet from a telephone
doodle pad with the following scribbles – Mrs. Ellis'
name; Dr. Bratuz's name, obviously initially misspelled; her
address; and then a question I felt compelled to ask…
"Can you just pick a teacher?"
The second is a more formal doodle – typed… "I
apologize to Heather Morrison for not having answered yet.
I am reserving a place in my class for her. She should write
to Eric Cosgrove, Faculty of Music for information on courses,
etc.” (Damiana Bratuz)
2nd theme: 1971 arrival at Western
Within a week, I discovered I didn't know what a cello was.
Standing in a registration line-up with Art Rowe, who was
bubbling with the news that Elizabeth Schwartgkopf was coming
to London to give a recital, I had to feign enthusiasm, as
I wasn't sure if she played the cello!
First lesson in the portable of the Silverwood building…
While waiting outside for fourth year student Keith Mullback
to finish playing whatever extraordinary piece of repertoire,
I read the Peanuts cartoon of the year on Dr. B's door…
Charlie Brown: "There is no heavier burden than great
potential". With this thought resonating in my head,
feeding an already highly developed sense of inadequacy, I
entered the studio. My first offering was the Prelude of Bach's
a- English Suite. My first lesson was… "The music
doesn't begin with a note, but with a rest. You must breathe."
I will condense four amazing, highly-charged years into a
How do we measure what it means to open up to the ideas of
cross-fertilization between music, visual arts, literature,
philosophy;… to the idea of gesture in music;…to
be introduced to concepts through imagery and metaphor.
How can we now imagine teaching to mean anything less than
providing ourselves and our students with tools of discernment.
As one thinks back to absolutely formative events and circumstances
in one's life, certain things emerge as pivotal. There's no
doubt in my mind that had I not studied with Damjana Bratuz,
my life would be completely different. I won't credit her
with teaching me what a cello was, but the sense of what cello
playing means to a pianist was entirely hers. To Art, my thanks
for absorbing (or perhaps not even noticing!) my embarrassment
about Schwarzkopf; to Dr. B. my gratitude for causing me to
listen to the colouring of the words and the implied words.
I owe so much to Bruce, with whom I more recently studied
for a year, for continuing these great traditions. Dr B. is
responsible for a musical family of big brothers and sisters.
Thank you for patience enough to cultivate a completely naïve
mind; and thank you for your logical magic which enriches
musical thinking to the point that it becomes a way of life.
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