Play-In Season in British Columbia, Part I: Nanaimo

A Brandenburg Party in Nanaimo, BC

This Play-In season, my partner Hilliard Greene and I coordinated a visit with my parents in Vancouver with ACMP Worldwide Play-In events in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island.

We started our adventures with a much-anticipated visit with Jane Stein Wilson in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. For those of you who are up on your ACMP history, Jane is the daughter of Joseph Stein – a good friend of ACMP founder Helen Rice and one of ACMP’s original members. Jane was a long-time member of ACMP’s Board of Directors and served as Chair for many of those years. Born in the United States to American parents, she went to college in Montréal, married a Canadian, became a naturalized Canadian citizen, worked a full career as a registered nurse, and has remained in Canada to this day.

Jane invited Hill and me to stay over at her house, and we became fast friends.

Jane Stein Wilson on her front porch

I especially enjoyed hearing Jane’s stories about the early days of ACMP; the difficult transition from an informal membership club to a grant-giving Foundation; and her role in the losing battle to keep the original meaning of the letter “A” in “ACMP” as amateur. (Jane is a die-hard fan and 44-year attendee of CAMMAC, and pointed out that it has the word amateur in it TWICE – Canadian Amateur Musicians Musiciens Amateurs du Canada.)

In honor of our visit, Jane organized a strings and keyboard Play-In at her house, during which we joined a festive group of local musicians in playing Bach’s Brandenburg concerti numbers 3 and 6, concerti grossi by Corelli, and a Mozart divertimento. Brandenburg 6 was graced by real viola da gamba players – Jane’s neighbours Deborah Van Der Goes and her husband Marvin Svingen. Deborah is Nanaimo’s local viola da gamba missionary; she runs Early Music Central from her home, entirely on a volunteer basis. She teaches people of all ages and levels to play the gamba and other period instruments, and hosts regular chamber music sessions drawing on her enormous library of mainly Renaissance, sometimes Medieval and more rarely Baroque consort music.

I was truly inspired by the intergenerational aspect of Jane’s circle of local musical friends and family. In fact, Jane’s family embodies the spirit of ACMP. Her daughter is an active cellist who married a violinist, conductor and educator, and their three boys all play multiple instruments (as does Jane, who plays violin, viola, cello and bass.) I didn’t get to meet Jane’s daughter and cello-playing grandson as they were at a weekend-long cello festival in Victoria, but I got to play with her son-in-law and her other two grandsons (from that side of the family.) One of them was playing on Helen Rice’s viola, which Helen left to Jane in her will.

Helen Rice’s viola in action (young violist on the right)

The next morning, Hill and I enjoyed a relaxing breakfast with Jane before heading off to do some outdoor tourism and catching the ferry back to Vancouver. We got to see Jane once more the following day at the big ACMP Play-In in Vancouver. Read all about it!

If any of you are planning a trip to Vancouver Island, I highly recommend getting in touch with Jane and with Early Music Central. It’s such a vibrant community of passionate Capital-A amateur players, surrounded by some of Canada’s most striking natural beauty.

Stephanie and Hill at Cathedral Grove, near Nanaimo

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