Last Monday evening, I kicked off my campaign with a fundraising concert at the Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan Centre at UBC.
Peter Ladner was on hand to kick off the evening, and I gave brief remarks to introduce Avan and launch my campaign. Among the guests present were Leila Getz, founder of the Vancouver Recital Society; David Lemon, founder of Artsway; representatives from the Pantages Theatre restoration project; Linda Bickerton-Ross, co-founder of the Langley Community Music School.; and Roger Millen from Gambado.
A number of colleagues dropped by, including Council member Suzanne Anton, former council member Alan Hebert, and fellow City Council candidates Daljit Sidhu and Leonore Copeland. School Board candidate Dr. Lakhbir Singh was there, as were Parks Board candidates Laura McDiarmid, Mellissa De Genova, Sharon Urton and Christopher Richardson.
It was an amazing concert and we had a great time!
My remarks follow:
Fourty-four years ago, my sister Linda gave me a gift of violin lessons for my eighth birthday. Living in rural South Surrey, that gift of music was a lifeline, introducing me to a world of culture and opportunity. It gave me the chance to play in the Vancouver Youth Orchestra and attend the Courtenay Youth Music Camp as a boy. Later. as a young adult, I helped manage and revitalize those institutions, and went on to work for the Vancouver Symphony and Vancouver Recital Society.
Tommy had just signed two Vancouver artists – duo-pianists Ralph Markham & Kenneth Broadway, and they introduced me to him during that visit. As it turned out, he needed an Assistant, and that’s how I ended up flying to New York and working with some of the world’s greatest artists, orchestras and dance companies.
New York is also where I met Tom – three months after arriving – and we’ve been together ever since. Two years ago, I moved back to Vancouver in order to marry Tom on the occasion of our twentieth anniversary together. Because for the first time in our lives, thanks to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we were able to marry the person we love. That marriage took place at the Lion’s Bay home of Ralph Markham & Kenneth Broadway.
Ralph and Ken have performed Mozart in the Vienna Konzerthaus with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, just as the composer himself did, and recorded Vaughan Williams with Yehudi Menuhin and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. And we are extremely lucky to have them back here in Vancouver helping to prepare the next generation of great pianists.
Avan Yu, the extraordinary young artists you are going to hear this evening, is their student. Avan came here with his family in 1997 from Hong Kong. They arrived in Vancouver with very little, but thanks to his parent’s dedication, Avan’s hard work and a network that Ken and Ralph pulled together to support Avan’s unique talent, here we are this evening, little more than a decade later, gathered to send Avan off to New York to make his Carnegi Hall debut!
Music truly has the power to transform lives and change destinies. It can rescue children from difficult lives, give them hope and teach them the discipline necessary to make something of themselves.
That is why the great concert halls are my cathedrals, and music my religion. It is in these performances that I am able to touch base with something profoundly true and eternal.
Now, my own mother will tell you that I’m no angel – but I do know a few, and I would like to mention one or two that have devoted their lives to bringing that gift of music to others in our area:
People like my sister Linda, who co-founded the Langley Community Music School that now teaches more than 900 students every year. And David Lemon, who founded Artsway to provide live music to long-term residents of hospitals, mental institutions and long-term care facilities – his wonderful organization will present 1000 such concerts next year!
There are also great empresarios like Leila Getz and David YH Lui, who have risked everything and put themselves on the line year after year to bring us some of the greatest performing artists in the world. And the Vancouver Symphony, that has supported and embraced Avan’s talent since he first moved here as a boy from Hong Kong. And finally, the wondeful organization behind the miraculous restoration of the Pantages Theatre at Hastings & Main.
The reason I am running is to support these extraordinary efforts and others equally notable; and to help ensure that the opportunities we’ve enjoyed are here for the next generation.
I will also work to ensure that we preserve the character and charm of our unique cultural, entertainment and historical neighbourghoods, and to help develop community-led plans to revitalize and reimagine these areas for the 21st Century.
And I will work tirelessly to help clean up our city – storefront by storefront, building by buildilng and block by block … one neighbourhood at a time. Just the way I started out three months ago in my own community of Tinseltown.
We can clean up our city and we must. Because there is no personal freedom without freedom from fear and there’s no freedom from fear without clean, safe streets in which to exercise that freedom.
That’s my commitment to you and to the City of Vancouver.
Please join me!
Now let’s put politics aside and honour the great artist here to play for you tonight. Please welcome Avan Yu!