BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

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Accepting Diversity — February 18, 2017

Accepting Diversity

Given the events happening in the world at this time, it is the perfect opportunity to reflect upon the positive contributions we are making to the community.

In the last few months, Canadians have seen the desperation of people in the midst of war-torn countries, caught in the dishonesty of the government and most importantly, facing the deaths of loved ones. So during difficult times like these, when corruption runs deep and thousands of men, women and children are forced to leave their homes, it is important for citizens in Canada to put aside our judgments, as well as open our doors for those who need it.


Although it is hard to admit, every person in society has the tendency to push away others that are not of the same race, religion, upbringing and even wealth. However, let’s face it; we are all human and diversity plays a large role in our lives.

Having experienced these tragedies from a safe environment, it is up to us to adapt quickly to change. Trust me, it won’t come without sacrifice, but learning to accept these immigrants will allow Canada to gain respect for people living all over the world in conditions that are not ideal.

In addition to this, let me remind you of how at least twenty percent of Canadian citizens were immigrants at some time and had to endure the hardships and challenges that come along with adapting to the customs of a foreign country. Let me also remind you of how in the past, Canadian citizens pushed away Chinese, Asian and Indian immigrants at their most vulnerable stages, all of which became successful and allowed the economy to flourish (by increasing job opportunities).

You see, often times we are hesitant because we are scared or fear the uncertainty that change brings. Despite this fear we hold, change is what allows us to grow as individuals and progress as a society. So my challenge for you is to reach out to someone that you wouldn’t think to, whether it is in the classroom, at work or in your community. Give a compliment, lend a hand, or even make small talk with a stranger; it is often the small gestures we make that brighten up the atmosphere around us. Whether it is being counted for or not, never underestimate a moment of your kindness as it has the power to change lives in ways you may never know.

– Jaia


A Friendly Cultural Exchange — January 29, 2017

A Friendly Cultural Exchange


International friends are some of the best friends that you could ever make. Meeting new people from different countries is an amazing experience that will influence your life and your international friends’ lives forever and I can guarantee that it is one of the best things that will ever happen to you and your international friends. As part of the BCHFS Alumni we focus on culture and heritage. Meeting new people from other countries is a very fun way to learn about different cultures and their diverse history. By becoming friends with international students you can both learn so much and take part in a rich cultural exchange.


There are so many great reasons why you should befriend international students:

  • Having a Canadian friend is really nice for them. Imagine going to a completely new country where the language spoken isn’t your first language. You’re all alone and you’re staying with this new host family you’ve never met before. Then you attend a school very different from yours filled with teenagers who already have their own friends. I bet that you would feel nervous and shy, and that a friendly “hello” would be appreciated. It’s really nice to be friendly and inclusive to new people. It makes them feel welcome and happy. I know it would’ve made my day.
  • In other countries the culture and whole atmosphere is quite different from here. From being friends with people from Germany, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Colombia, Mexico, and Belgium I have learned so much about the world. I have learned about school, the landscape, activities, and lives in general. It’s so interesting to discover how different life is everywhere else and I really value this new information and these ideas. In turn, international students learn so much from you. I’ve noticed that most international students tend to hang out with other international students, particularly others from their own countries. When this happens they don’t get to experience real “Canadian youth culture” so I think they would appreciate it more when they get the “whole” fun experience.
  • The cultural exchange that occurs between an International-Canadian friendship is so valuable. I’ve experienced so many new things because of my international friends. I’ve learned a bit of German, Portuguese, Japanese, Czech, and Italian, and have improved my French. I’ve also tasted Brazilian food and German cookies. And I must say, Brazilian food is delicious and traditional German Christmas cookies are yummy!
  • If you do future traveling you may have a place to stay. I will guarantee you that you will want to visit your friends’ countries. I learned so much and heard lots about where my friends come from and I will definitely see those places and visit my friends!
  • You get to see your home in a whole new way, as they do. Since becoming friends with international students, I have rediscovered the beauty of Vancouver and learned so much more about my city. I’ve learned to appreciate the elegance and diversity of my city and realized how lucky I am to live here.

This exchange program is one of the best opportunities for both international and Canadian students to meet new people who will become friends for life. At my school, roughly 100 students arrive to learn English and to experience Canadian school and life throughout each school year. In just two years I’ve met so many people, and became close friends with eight of them.

Last year, in grade ten, I became best friends with three amazing people. I have wonderful memories of our times together that I will never forget.

This year, I met new people from the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and Belgium and became really close friends with lots of them. I go skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, rowing, and hiking with them, among various other activities. Over winter break I invited four of my new international friends over to my house one evening to watch a Christmas movie, visit, and play some games. It was amazing because in one room there were five countries: Germany, Brazil, Italy, Canada, and South Korea. We ate East Indian pakoras, Polish pierogies, Swiss chocolate fondue, and Scottish shortbread and Canadian chocolate chip cookies. It was a super fun, extremely multicultural evening.

The time that international students spend here in Canada is relatively short, but during that time you will experience invaluable moments and receive memories that you will cherish forever. On Monday I said goodbye to a friend from Brazil and in just a few days I will have to say goodbye to my German friend as well. It’s always sad when you have to say goodbye, but I believe that the farewell is only temporary because I know I will see my friends again.

Becoming friends with international students is one of the best things that you could ever do. It’s such an amazing experience that will enrich your life and your new friends’ lives and the bond that is created between you is very strong and the memories are unforgettable.

By Siobhan

New Year, New You? — January 22, 2017

New Year, New You?


As January is coming to a close the doors to 2017 are just opening. The New Year marks a time where people get to start fresh and set goals. On December 31st millions make a new year’s resolution, a promise that they are going to do something to better themselves.

I am not against making New Year’s resolutions, but I do think that if you have a goal you shouldn’t wait until the clock strikes twelve to become successful, you should start now. It’s different for certain people; the New Year might be an inspiration for some to achieve something. But many make resolutions, and then don’t end up keeping them. Studies have shown that only 5% of people tend to achieve their New Year goal.  When you don’t work towards your goal you’re telling yourself that it’s not a priority. Try changing the way you think. Instead of telling yourself you don’t have time, try saying, “it’s not a priority.” For example, if your goal is to become a healthier person try saying, “my healthy isn’t a priority so I am not going to work on it.” If saying this sits with you alright maybe try finding out what is a priority.

We often put things off until tomorrow. We say this to simple things like doing the dishes or finishing our homework. If you have the time in the moment, you might as well get it done with, right? But getting little things done in our day and age can be a struggle to some because we can be too busy looking at our  screens. A lot of people think the youth is becoming addicted to technology, but the reality is technology is our future. With this said I encourage everyone to look away from their screens and to do something they have been saying they would do but “didn’t have time for.”

I encourage you to try new things, explore new places, and don’t wait for the New Year to change because one day there may not be not be a tomorrow.



Introducing the 2016/2017 Alumni Team — November 15, 2016

Introducing the 2016/2017 Alumni Team

Without further ado, I would like to announce the 2016/2017 Alumni Team!

  1. Julia  – Kamloops-Thompson Rivers
  2. Lucas  – Rivers to Sea
  3. Siobhan  (S2S) – Sea to Sky
  4. Anisha  – Delta-Surrey
  5. Sage  – North Island
  6. Heather  – North Island
  7. Matthew  – Vancouver
  8. Abrielle – Vancouver
  9. Benjamin  – South Island
  10. Jaia  – Richmond
  11. Gita  – Richmond
  12. Vedanshi  – Richmond
  13. Veronica  – Richmond

Last year, the alumni tackled the theme of the “Internet”. They investigated questions related to how the society could grow their online presence. As a result, the BC Heritage Fair Society saw an increased number of blogs and video posts created by the Alumni team. Also, thanks to suggestions from the Alumni Team, The Society  has their very own Instagram account. We’re on Youtube, too! (Check it out : https://www.youtube.com/user/BCHeritageFairs )

In the coming year, there are no plans to stop these exciting initiatives!  The Alumni will continue to work on maintaining a strong online presence. They will update this site with monthly blog posts, and they will also help create content for our Facebook Page. Participation in these online communities will be instrumental in helping the society reach new audiences.

Speaking of communities… This is precisely the focus of this year’s theme.  This year, the Alumni Council will explore the  relationship between history  and community. For example, we will discuss questions such as: Why is it important for communities (local, provincial, or national) to pay tribute to important historical events, people, and places? How do communities benefit from celebrating the past? Moreover, how can organizations such as BCHFS and the Alumni Team help communities connect to their past?

It is sure to be a very exciting year. Stay tuned for Alumni bios!




Apply to be on the 2016-2017 Alumni Council! — September 6, 2016

Apply to be on the 2016-2017 Alumni Council!

Hello all you Heritage-Fair enthusiasts out there! It’s that time of year again: applications for our 2016-2017 Alumni Council are out.

Want to grow your leadership skills, meet like-minded students from across the Province, and earn volunteer service hours at the same time?!If you’ve participated in a Heritage Fair in BC and are under the age of 18, you are eligible to participate in the Alumni Program!

Council will run from November through to August– the meetings are held once a month, totaling 10 meetings. Every month’s meeting will be accompanied by a one hour assignment, as well as required blog and social media posts. Participation in the Alumni Program allows students the opportunity to remain active in the Heritage Fair community, beyond participating in the regional or provincial fairs. As such, an Alumni can be anyone who presented at a Regional or Provincial Fair, who has a passion for learning, and is engaged by Canada’s history. Currently, there are 13 spaces in the program.

BCHFS Alumni Council Application 2016-2017

The deadline to submit your applications is Friday September 30th .

If you are interested in this exciting opportunity, get in touch with your Region’s Heritage Fair Coordinator! (A list of the Coordinators can be found under the “Contact Us” tab).

A Year in Review — August 26, 2016

A Year in Review

The 2015-2016 Alumni Council just had their last official conference call. Over the past year, the thirteen of us worked together to achieve the goals we had set. Our theme was polishing the current social media accounts, and building upon, and improving the online presence of the BCHFS.
Each month, we attended conference calls where we discussed reflected upon the successes, and disappointments from previous initiatives. The Alumni created, and implemented new strategies, which were founded with the lessons learned from past experiences. Sometimes, we would complete assignments, such as blog entries, or social media posts, individually. Other times, we’d work on creating accessible resources for students, parents, and teachers in groups of two to three people.In my group of three Alumni, we have made a program for Regional Heritage Fair graduates, and it will be inaugurated next Heritage Fair season. I won’t give away too many details, but stay tuned into our blog to find out about it- announcements are soon to follow!
At the BC Provincial Heritage Fair, the highlight event of the year, the Alumni representatives documented each day’s events with blog posts, social media updates, and media such as photographs and videos. (Story time!) I remember this one time at the fair when a student came up to me to tell me that she had found my video on Interview Tips really helpful. It was great to know that the resources the Alumni had created were helping people! It feels really good when you see your hard work pay off- I can guarantee that all the Alumni feel this way after the successes of the past year.
Special announcement: If you are a student who has been to a BC Provincial Heritage Fair, and would like to take on a leadership role in the society, applications for the 2016-2017 Alumni Council come out soon! Make sure you stay connected with us via social media, so that you can be the first to know about such opportunities.
BCHFS is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Make sure you subscribe to our blog– we post weekly entries by the Alumni, and there are tools, and resources for everyone!

Author: Vedanshi

A Timeline of the Canadian Fight for Equal Rights — August 19, 2016

A Timeline of the Canadian Fight for Equal Rights

This July, Vancouver hosted its 38th Pride Parade, an annual event where a number of diverse communities come together to celebrate the years of hardship and turmoil endured by our LGBTQ2+ ancestors. While the fight for equal rights is by no means over, there have been many events throughout Canada’s history that have helped make great progress towards the success of this movement. Although these events might only seem significant to a certain demographic, the results truly affected all Canadians, regardless of sexuality or beliefs, and I think it’s important for adults and children alike to understand Canada’s queer history. While the education system puts much emphasis on learning about Canada’s diverse culture and the many people who faced adversity while building our country, next to nothing is taught regarding our rich LGBTQ2+ history. I believe that in order to keep from falling back into old ways, it is imperative that we all, whether queer or straight, have an understanding and appreciation for the struggles faced by our ancestors.

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In the 19th century, Canadian law stated that “”Every person guilty of the abominable crime of Buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall suffer death as a felon.” This continued until 1892, when the death penalty was removed and a new, broader law was created that condemned all homosexual activity. By the mid-1900s, this law had again been reformed to label gay males as sex offenders, or even worse, “criminal sexual psychopaths”, and called for a lifetime prison sentence.

In the 1950s, the infamous “fruit machine” was used to purge hundreds of alleged gay men from their jobs. The machine’s intent was to identify homosexuals by subjecting viewers to male and female pornographic images then measuring pupil dilation, which was believed to be a measure of “erotic response”. Unsurprisingly, this method was questionable and clearly flawed in many ways, and fell out of favour after a decade. Allegations made towards Northwest Territories resident Everett George Klippert also arose to the public’s eye during this time. Klippert was questioned under accusations of committing arson, but after rigorous questioning he was instead arrested for another reason: admitting to intercourse with a number of men, and a refusal to change ways. Klippert was charged with four counts of “gross indecency”, labeled a ‘dangerous sex offender’, sentenced to a life in prison, and became the last Canadian to be incarcerated for homosexual activity.

In 1969, the omnibus bill, C-150, was passed, and homosexual activity was decriminalized. Said Pierre Trudeau (who would soon become Prime Minister), “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” Not long after, Klippert was released from custody. The 1970s saw the emergence of the gay liberation movement, in which communities across the globe began to stand up for gay rights through the organization of rallies, protests, and pride events. Canada’s first programming and media oriented towards the gay community appeared, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in the entire world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and Canada’s laws were amended to permit homosexual immigrant men into the country.

In the 1980s, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Svend Robinson tried repeatedly to pass inclusivity bills that would for example, include “partner of the same sex” in the definition of “spouse”. He was defeated each time, but later became Canada’s first “out” Member of Parliament. What is dubbed “Canada’s version of Stonewall” took place in 1981, after over 300 men were arrested in an gay bathhouse. Thousands took to the streets to protest the arrests, and this spawned Toronto’s first Lesbian and Gay Pride Day. The ‘80s also brought the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in which hundreds of gay men fell ill due to an incurable sexually transmitted disease. This did nothing to help the public’s outlook on gay men, which was already heavily influenced by stigmas and stereotypes. Homosexual males were, and still are, prohibited from donating blood with the Red Cross.

The 1990s marked another great milestone for Canada’s queer community: Kim Campbell, then-Justice Minister, announced that homosexuals would be permitted to join the Canadian Armed Forces. In addition, same-sex adoption became legal in a number of provinces. 1996 saw the addition of “sexual orientation” to the Canadian Human Rights Act, a fight finally won after years of defeated bills.

In 2000, the definition of “common-law relationship” was extended to include same-sex couples, meaning that gay couples would receive the same tax, pension, and income benefits as opposite-sex couples. Ontario’s first same-sex couple was married in the Metropolitan Community Church, although the government refused to legally recognize the marriage. This soon changes in 2002, when Canada recognizes same-sex marriage and the Ontario Supreme Court declares the prohibition of same-sex marriage unconstitutional. However, this same year, Alberta passes a bill to ban same-sex marriage.

It was another three years before the right for same-sex couples to get married is officially recognized in Canada. On July 20th, 2005, Canada became the fourth country to do so. Since then, much has been done to continue reversing the stigmas and discrimination still aimed at the LGBTQ2+ community. Many people in the transgender community are still fighting for the right to legally identify as their true gender, and discrimination is by no means abolished in the workplace or in the everyday lives of queer people. As we move on, we must continue to remember why we are fighting for these rights, and we cannot forget the many who sacrificed their livelihoods to give us the privileges we have today.


Author: Emily

History on the GO — August 15, 2016

History on the GO

History is everywhere. Behind every building, every mural, every memorial, there is a story.

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Old Electric Trolley, photo by author

The new game Pokemon Go can help to uncover and  highlight some of Vancouver’s histories. While players walk through the city trying to catch pokemon, they gather pokeballs which can be collected from pokestops. Pokestops are usually placed on historical landmarks and ‘lures’ are placed on pokestops to attract pokemon. Players called ‘pokemon trainers’ have been rushing to pokestops all around Vancouver including great historical landmarks in the hopes to ‘catch them all!’

With the game’s increasing popularity, more people have been noticing these historical landmarks. Play the game and you can find some interesting stories everywhere in Vancouver. Here are some examples of historically significant pokestops.

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Joe Fortes Fountain, photo by author

The Joe Fortes memorial fountain overlooking English Bay (built in 1927 from funds raised mainly by children) commemorates Vancouver’s first official lifeguard. Joe Fortes spent all his free time protecting swimmers along English Bay and teaching children how to swim. He saved many people from drowning. An important Vancouverite, Joe Fortes made a positive impact on our city. In 1986 Joseph Seraphim Fortes was named Vancouver’s Citizen of the Century.

The Beatty Street mural (located on Beatty Street near historical Hogan’s Alley and across from the British Columbia Regiment Drill Hall) features local landmarks and prominent people of Vancouver, such as Joe Fortes, Jimi Hendrix, Rosemary Brown, Bill Reid, Joe Capilano, David Suzuki and many more.

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Beatty Street mural, photo by author

Some other historical landmarks that are also pokestops:  CPR Tunnel Plaque, Harry Jerome Statue, First City Hospital Heritage Plaque, the Great Vancouver Fire Plaque, and Woodwards building.

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Jimi Hendrix museum, photo by author

Pokestops also may help historical museums and small businesses. It has been reported that museums and other businesses put lures at their locations/pokestop to attract pokemon. After a few minutes, trainers would stream in to buy tickets and enter the museum, catching pokemon while learning about history. The Jimi Hendrix museum in Vancouver must have experienced similar increase in foot traffic because they were also a pokestop.

Not only can Pokemon Go help people discover histories in murals, museums and memorials, it can also highlight the more obscure local histories like the Gyrochute. If you want to learn more about the story behind the Gyrochute, you can visit this pokestop at Kitsilano Beach.

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Local History, photo by author

Pokestops are an opportunity to learn about Vancouver’s history. This is a great way to explore and learn about history because history is everywhere! So go out, catch some pokemon and learn about your city’s rich history.

Author: Abrielle

Canada’s Dinosaurs — August 5, 2016

Canada’s Dinosaurs

Let’s take a trip back in time.  And I mean way, way back.  So far back that there remained no trace of human existence yet.  Back to a time almost 250 million years ago, when giant reptiles ruled the Earth.  Back to the age of the dinosaurs.

So, where would one go to uncover the dawn of the dinosaurs?  I took a trip next-door to Alberta to explore the Dinosaur Capital of the World – Drumheller.  Millions of years ago, the area we know of today as Drumheller was once a very tropical expanse, an ideal environment for the plant and dinosaur populations to expand.

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Image Source: National Geographic, 2012

The dinosaurs persisted to rule the Earth for another 135 million years, before entering extinction about 65 million years ago.  While scientists today are still not entirely sure about what caused some of the largest land animals of all time to be wiped from the face of our Earth forever, they can agree that the mass extinction was most likely caused by a chain reaction of events such as asteroid impacts, volcano eruptions, the release of toxic chemicals and climate change, amongst several others.

The following ice age formed what became the Red Deer River Valley, left behind as the enormous glaciers slowly moved and melted.  The landscape that has remained as a result is absolutely striking given the rocky layers and structures.  Today, this area is referred to as the “badlands”.  However, only 11 thousand years ago did new plants and animals being to once again emerge and flourish.

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Image Source: Hammer Head Tours, 2016

Now, fast-forward a number of years into the 1880’s, when a man known as Joseph Burr Tyrrell came to the Red Deer River Valley in search of coal.  Little did he know of what he would find.  Instead, J.B. Tyrrell’s search for coal in the Red Deer River Valley lead him to the discovery of a dinosaur skull, which subsequently arose the field of study we know today as Palaeontology.  The dinosaur J.B. Tyrrell uncovered himself further came to be known as the Albertasaurus.

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Image Source: Chris Christensen

In 1910 Colonel Samuel Drumheller bought the land of the Red River Valley, and developed coal mining operations, a railway station, and founded a town in the area, renaming the area after himself as “Drumheller” which remains the name to this day.  Further, in 1980 it was announced that Drumheller was to be the home of a new research facility regarding palaeontology.  In 1985, named in honour of J.B. Tyrrell himself, the Royal Tyrell Museum was officially opened.

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Image Source: Trip Advisor

Today, Drumheller remains a popular tourist destination, as it remains to be Canada’s only museums exclusively dedicated to the science of palaeontology, and overall houses one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs.  Today, their mandate is to be an internationally recognized public and scientific museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, presentation and interpretation of paleontological history, while providing special references to Alberta’s own rich fossil heritage.


Author: Gita

Glenn Gould and His Influence on Russian Music — July 29, 2016

Glenn Gould and His Influence on Russian Music

Canadian pianist Glenn Gould was nervous on May 7, 1957 in the Bolshoi Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. He was just kicking off his tour of Russia, the first time he’d ever been overseas to perform. In the midst of the hottest period in the Cold War, Gould was the first ever pianist to perform in Russia since 1945. The sparse numbers of the crowd there weren’t sure what to expect, nor quite did he. None of them knew that in the course of the next two weeks, Gould would introduce the Moscow and Leningrad natives to an entirely new form of music. One that would challenge the long-standing Russian music tradition and show them the thriving cultural world outside of the socialist regime.

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Gould shaking hands with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra conductor (image courtesy of telefilm.ca)

Traditional Russian music is very Romantic and emotional, and had been the main style for the last 100 years. Of course, the music produced by Russia was heavily controlled by the communist government, and defying orders lead to mysterious disappearances and meetings with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin himself. In 1948, a decree known as the Zhdanov Doctrine disgraced works from composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern and Ernst Krenek and their camp (known as the Second Viennese School) which featured atonal music (music without a central key) as “formalist”. Their works were completely banned and never saw the light of day in Russia. Most musicians and almost the complete majority of the public, especially at the Moscow Conservatory, had not heard something as anti-Russian as the Second Viennese School.

Gould agreed to give a fourth concert on May 12th in the Maly Hall at the Moscow Conservatory. It was free to attend, and more of a lecture than a performance. But it was given on one condition by Gould: he could talk about anything he wanted to. The hall was jammed with students and professors to hear a lecture with the title of “Music in the West”. But as Gould explains, the truth was quite different from the title. “I dealt almost entirely with the [Second] Viennese School,” he remembered fondly, having loved the composers’ music from the school.

Several Soviet officials and young Communist Party informants also were at the lecture. When Gould announced that he would play music by the Second Viennese School, “There was a rather alarming and temporarily uncontrollable murmuring from the audience” as he recalled. Two older professors even led a demonstration against this music by immediately walking out of the hall. Students were undecided as whether to stay and support Western culture or leave and follow their teachers. Most of the hundreds who were there stayed and watched in awe as Gould played Berg’s Sonata, Webern’s Variations and two movements from Krenek’s Third Sonata. The feeling of the lecture, perhaps, can be explained best by Roman Vityuk, a theatre director:

“This place was full of people. Everyone here was expecting a miracle. I think this is how it looked. There was an impression [it was] in a concentration camp, the most terrible one. The most cruel. There was a little gathering place where they brought in the young prisoners. Generals, colonels, officers were watching from the front rows. There were prison guards, that’s for sure. These were the young Communist league informants, who were watching the behavior of others. The behavior of those who were welcoming this ‘first infiltrator’ from the bourgeois world with excitement. With open soul. Right away, this was a shock. Because you should not be surprised in a concentration camp. And when he started to announce, Schoenberg, Webern and Berg again, and when he got to Krenek, in the hall the young communists start to ask each other: ‘What did he say? What did he say?’ And in the audience the people started to say: ‘Krenek…Krenek…’ This was a new password for an entirely new comprehension of life.”

Afterwards, perhaps to comfort the slightly shocked and dazed Russian students, Gould played a delicious selection of pieces from The Art of Fugue and Goldberg Variations. Just like every stop on his tour, the applause was deafening, especially from the students. “This, I think, was the most exciting and the most memorable part of the Russian trip,” Gould later said.

Students watching Gould intently (image courtesy of Glenn Gould: The Russian Journey documentary)

The music that began to enter the hearts of the Russian listeners stayed with them even after Gould left the day after his Leningrad talk. He went against and told Russians to stop thinking about their dominant music culture, and instead look to more diverse music from various different cultures, and in the process discovering the Second Viennese School for Russia. Roman Vityuk says that “The Berlin Wall existed music, too, and perhaps Gould was one of those who were trying to break down the wall.” If Gould was indeed breaking down the wall, he was doing it with a very large hammer.

A crucial factor to value Gould’s importance and impact is how his image fares now in Russia. Back in Canada, a growing minority paints Gould as nothing more than an oddball who annoyingly played everything a different way. But pianists like Victor Ashkenazy still retain their huge admiration for Gould. “He’ll always be for me, certainly an idol. There’s no question about it. I think it’s wonderful that such an extraordinary man, extraordinary talent existed and he gave us a fascinating way of playing Bach, especially.” It is also definitely not the case at the Moscow Conservatory. Students there treat Gould celestially, one saying that Gould is “the great painter of sound and the poet of music…he’s Gould!”

“Now, 44 years later,” says Leonid Gakkel, “I absolutely earnestly believe that he was an alien. Glenn Gould was a visitor on this Earth. People cannot play the piano like that, I can assure you.” Was Gould the alien? Or, like he said, was going to Russia “like being the first musician to land on Mars or Venus”? But perhaps it does not matter which way it goes. Maybe the perfect combination of an eccentric revolutionary and a creativity-starved culture was necessary for the tour to be as successful as it was. Glenn Gould officially departed from Russia just over two weeks after he arrived. But in a way, he never really left.

The Legend (image courtesy of Library and Archives Canada)

Author: Lucas