August 11, 2011 Features & Images » Feature Story

Growing Up Whistler 

Whistler may be the ultimate playground for the rich and famous, but at the heart of the community can oftentimes be found in the sand and on the slide at the real playgrounds

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Local violinist Maddie Reid had a similar issue. Maddie began playing the violin at age five - mostly to be different from her piano playing siblings, according to her mom, Jane Reid. She started with music instructor Beth Solem.

"Beth was great," says Reid. "She really helped [Maddie] develop a love of music."

But by age 11, Maddie needed to take lessons from a violinist with experience playing at a professional level. There weren't any such people in the corridor. And so began many years of driving to Vancouver.

For several years Maddie took lessons from an instructor in West Vancouver every two weeks. She attended the Summer Pops Orchestra, a two-week summer camp where participants take part in a tour. After three years of the camp her culminating experience was to tour across the country with the orchestra, travelling as far as Quebec.

In Grades 10 and 12 Maddie auditioned for, and was accepted into, the senior Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra. That meant lessons every Saturday in West Vancouver, followed by a three-hour rehearsal with the orchestra in Kitsilano.

"Every Saturday was completely taken up with that," says Reid.

But it paid off. Maddie is in her third year studying Music Performance at the University of Victoria. The program is very competitive. She had to audition to get into the Music program at UVIC, and then after two years, had to audition again for acceptance into the Music Performance program. It's difficult, with practicing and rehearsals on top of the usual course load.

Maddie rehearses and performs regularly with an orchestra and a string quartet, as well as studying solo repertoire. She is also coached and taught by members of the quartet-in-residence (the Lafayette String Quartet) and members of the Victoria Symphony.

Her mom doesn't begrudge the time spent in the car during those high school years. With obvious pride she says: "I'm so happy that she got in [to the Music Performance program]. I'm so happy that she is able to be in that world with other people who have the same love of music."

Maddie echoes that thought.

"The world of classical musicians is very close-knit, and I enjoy being a part of it," she says. "It's also a very intellectual world, but I don't think most people realize how much refinement, discipline, and hard work go into playing classical music. However, it's worth it to be able to play great music."

Will Maddie ever return to Whistler? She'd like to. At heart she's a Whistler kid, who loves to ski and hike. But most professional musicians make a living through a variety of means - playing in a symphony, being a chamber musician and teaching.

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