Susan Laister remembers it well. When she was a child, her father would go out into the garage and wind-up his old gramophone. “I would go out with him and listen to the music,” she recalls. “That was the start of my love for classical music.”
For Susan’s husband, David, his passion for music began with the popular tunes. When he was in his teens, he even formed a pop band with some of his friends. It was David’s mother who introduced him to classical music. “She bought me my first two LPs,” he says.
An appreciation for music that began in youth in England has developed into a deep and abiding passion for the Laisters over the years. “If I didn’t have music as an outlet, I don’t know what I’d do,” admits Susan, “It brings great joy to my life. Music is such an important part of our lives and the National Arts Centre has become our second home.”
In fact, Susan and David have been coming to the NAC since 1971, the year they moved to Ottawa from Kingston, Ontario. “On our first trip to Ottawa, we came to the NAC to see Ian and Sylvia Tyson,” says David. “When we moved to Ottawa we subscribed to the Orchestra and we’ve been coming regularly ever since.”
The same passion that keeps Susan and David coming to the NAC – both as subscribers and dedicated volunteers – also sparked a desire to give back financially. After their son completed his Ph.D. the generous couple decided to help fund the learning of many others. “We agreed that the money we were giving to our son for his education, we would now give to the NAC’s Summer Music Institute,” David Explains. “We wanted to help enrich students’ lives and their musical knowledge.”
David and Susan both say giving back to the NAC has been a rewarding experience. “Knowing we’re making a difference is very fulfilling,” says Susan. “We’re contributing so the music we love can carry on into the future and be in other peoples’ lives as well.”
“We all owe society some kind of debt and now it’s our turn to give back,” agrees David. “These talented, up-and-coming musicians are the orchestra players of tomorrow. Youth programs like the SMI are so important to the musical heritage of the NAC. We are investing in the future.”
The Summer Music Institute (SMI) has become a world-renowned magnet for the best young Canadian and International classical artists, providing world-class instruction for especially gifted young musicians, conductors and composers.
This article is from the Spring 2013 issue of Full Circle.