March 3, 2017

Mentor plays big role for cellist

Brian KellySault Star

Stephane Tetreault wasn’t the type of student Yuli Turovsky was eager to mentor.

The founder of I Musici de Montreal was focusing on older students when the string department head at FACE (Fine Arts Core Education) School in Montreal suggested he work with Tetreault.

The young cellist, then nine, was keen to keep practising his instrument during the summer break. His teacher at FACE wasn’t available. An audition with Turovsky was suggested.

Turovsky, Tetreault told The Sault Star on Friday, was focusing his teaching on university students. Too much time would be needed “to build up” a young talent such as Tetreault. Turovsky, trained at the Moscow Conservatory, suggested he could find Tetreault a teacher for the summer.

The youngster piped up. He wanted to work with the co-founder of Borodin Trio.

“I was pretty gutsy, now that I think about it,” said Tetreault while on the road to Toronto to rehearse with Sinfonia Toronto.

What began as a planned four lessons turned into a student-teacher relationship that continued for more than a decade including Tetreault’s studies at University of Montreal.

“He was without a doubt the person who gave me his passion for music and gave me the desire to do a career in music and to pursue a career even though it’s difficult to keep going,” said Tetreault. “He really taught me everything he knew and he was an extremely gifted pedagogue, as well as being an incredible performer.”

He started playing the cello as “more of a hobby,” but he decided he wanted to play professionally by the time he was 10 or 11.

“(Turovsky’s) passion and his energy were extremely contagious,” said Tetreault.

He’ll be joined by Sinfonia Toronto, under music director Nurhan Arman, for a performance of Saint Saens First Cello Concerto on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at The Machine Shop.

Tetreault began playing the Saint Saens work when he was 12. He’d usually spend two to three months working with Turovsky on a new work. Tetreault dedicated two years “non-stop” to a concerto written in 1872.

“I felt a little overwhelmed,” he said of his introduction to one of the French composer’s signature compositions. “It required a lot of work, but it was worth it because it is an amazing (piece).”

Tetreault’s ties to the Saint Saens concerto continue into the start of his professional career.

His first CD, Tchaïkovsky and Saint-Saëns, begins with the piece. He made his debut with Philadelphia Orchestra performing the concerto last October. Additional performances have been done with other orchestras in Canada and the United States.

“It’s been amazing to have the journey with Saint Saens,” said Tetreault.

He’ll perform Sunday with a Stradivarius cello crafted in 1707. It’s on long-term loan to him from a Montreal arts patron.

“It’s a very special cello,” said Tetreault. “I’m really lucky to play it.”

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