Action-packed musical perfect for York pipa player

Early on in life, York music instructor Wendy Wen Zhao’s mother encouraged her to play the pipa, a Chinese lute or guitar, wrote the Richmond Hill Liberal Sept. 7. Her mother chose the ancient Chinese instrument because she believed girls who played it looked well-posed, educated and classical, Zhao said. So Zhao, now 40, started playing at age seven. She joined the Chinese National Children’s Orchestra at age nine. “When you grow up, you will love it,” her mother said about the instrument.

The pipa was prevalent during the Tang dynasty, which is why Zhao so readily accepted the offer to perform in the action-musical Tang Concubines. “It (the musical) is right for me. It suits my instrument,” she said. Zhao, a Markham resident, has been playing for 31 years. She performs mostly as a soloist at concerts, teaches at York University’s Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Arts and The Royal Conservatory of Music, and is a pipa tutor. Zhao was born and raised in Beijing. Tang Concubines runs Sept. 7 to 16 on the Main Stage of the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

Former York student manages BC youth centre

The Youth Centre, aka “The Station”, in downtown Castlegar has seen significant improvement over the last year, thanks to the overwhelming volume of youth involvement and community support, reported BC’s Castlegar News Sept. 6 . Former York student Dana Welsh, the youth co-ordinator and manager, says it appears there have been some common misconceptions lately regarding the teenagers in the community.

 “Adults in a community sometimes tend to categorize teens, and place blame where vandalism or theft is involved, but it isn’t always justified. Those kids walk in here and put their energy to a positive use with art and creative ideas that help the community – it’s all about the environment they’re in.” Welsh was a student in York’s Women’s Studies Program, Faculty of Arts, where she worked with teens in an academic setting. The 28-year-old started as the youth co-ordinator at The Station three months ago.

Designing duo gets cooking with fanciful, sexy aprons

York alumna Jessica Wong (BA ‘04) and Vanessa Lee like to tie one on, reported the Markham Economist & Sun Sept. 3. So do many of their growing list of clients, including children. Longtime friends and Markham neighbours, Wong and Lee are also founding partners of Domistyle, a three-year-old company specializing in fashionable aprons. Since their first year at Markham’s Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy, the dynamic duo, now both 25, have been pals. Following high school, Wong studied communications and sociology at York University.

Seven-minute documentary takes York filmmaker to South Korea and US

The Rhythm of Youth is the story of the sacrifices of immigrant parents and the blurring of the line between brotherhood and surrogate parenthood, wrote the Markham Economist & Sun Sept. 2. Created by 25-year-old Markham filmmaker and York alumnus Brendon Foster-Algoo (BFA ‘05), it will be shown in film festivals in Toronto, South Korea and the United States during the next two months.

Foster-Algoo’s film, is a seven-minute documentary about 11-year-old Steven Eliopoulos, who plays the drums in a rock band with his older brothers. Steven is being raised by his older brothers who are in their 20s. This point brings us to the central message of the film, said the paper. “An untraditional family is not something negative for a child’s development. We have to judge each family based on their own attributes even if they don’t fit the current mold”, Foster-Algoo said. Foster-Algoo started shooting the film in 2002 when he was still a student in York’s Department of Film & Video, Faculty of Fine Arts. He finished the film in 2005.

On air

  • Fred Lazar, economics professor inYork’s Schulich School of Business, spoke about the effects of inflation on treaty allowances on CBC Radio (Yellowknife) Sept. 6.

  • Jennifer Connolly, psychologist and professor in York’s Faculty of Health who studies domestic violence, discussed that subject on Global TV Sept. 6 following a stabbing incident at Vanier Residence Sept. 5.

  • David Barrett, national director of the Master’s Certificate in Project Management at York’s Schulich Executive Education Centre, spoke about a new, joint program with Cornerbrook’s Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University of Newfoundland, on CTV affiliate NTV (St. John’s) Sept. 6.