Classical Musicians Making Black History



With help from TD Canada Trust and Joy Bullen, classical music performances were presented in celebration of Black History Month. On the second weekend of February, Andrew Forde’s Ideas of North and Father & Son Dueling Pianos by Eddie and Quincy Bullen were presented.

The father and son duo held two benefit concerts at Daniel Spectrum as a fundraising tour to help secure the Jean Augustine Chair at the York University Faculty of Education. The show also toured in Halifax and Montreal. “This was Eddie showing how he passed his best on to his son. This is an immigrant father who himself was taught and pushed by his father in [Grenada],” she said.

Eddie’s father was a jazz musician who played along with the grandfathers of music icons such as Glen Louis. Eddie said he felt his musical roots were too rewarding to not pass down to his son. “The legacy that my dad built, I didn’t want to lose it,” he said. Eddie spoke about the dozens of musicians who would come to his studio while his son was young and how Quincy couldn’t help but pick up on lingo and techniques, being engulfed in the environment. “I’m a piano tuner as well because that’s what you have to do. You come from school and you have to tune them…I’m fourteen and I’m repairing pianos. Its life, you know nothing else so you do it.”

Eddie exposed his son to a similar musical background in hopes of seeing him flourish as an artist. Based on the success of their Dueling Pianos tour, it is clear their performances are worthy of praise. “There were a large number of people in the audience who had not seen that performance before and they were totally blown away…the response is always people are awed first by the talent of these two,” she said. Duelling pianos is an historical tradition occurring when two players take turns performing songs requested by the audience, competing to see who could play better and faster.

Forde’s Ideas Of North show was the first of its kind, offering Forde’s violinist talent with the help of his bandmates, Alexie Orifer playing the guitar, Anthony Daniel on drums, Nathanial James and Chris Brudden both on piano. His show included a variety of tempos from the band as well as solo appearances from other musicians. Seventeen-year-old pianist William Weathers performed a solo piece as well as a duet with Forde. Close to the end of the night, Forde asked the crowd if they have insecurities before encouraging the main band to get on their microphone to share an insecurity they have. Overall, each performance delivered a distinct sound and tempo, highlighting each band member seamlessly.

Andrew confessed to the crowd that he was initially feeling insecure about people showing up, especially with the 9cm of snow on the ground that night. Despite the difficult weather, seats were filled. “We had a couple hundred people who had tickets who didn’t come…there were a lot of people there but when I looked at the numbers there were a lot of people who had tickets but didn’t come”

Forde is an award-winning violinist and acclaimed composer, who performed with big names like Shad, Mary J Blige, Justin Bieber, and Kardinal Offishall. Though he is a reputable musician, having won the Best Performance in Violin from the Canadian Royal Conservatory of Music, Joy’s support of his work was a direct impact of Ideas Of North becoming a reality.

Joy worked with TD for years before she started to work with charities on fundraising. After a while of supporting organizations like the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Sharon Temple, she was asked to promote and help fundraise Eddie’s legacy piece made for him and his son. Three years ago she confirmed TD as a sponsor at the request that instead of one show, the father-son duo toured in four cities. Joy said she was inspired to support the Dueling Pianos show because she felt society needed to adjust its view of the black family while also making black history. “We need to keep the conversation about black achievement happening throughout the year,” she said.


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