Pianist Jana Ting
(Photo courtesy Jana Ting)

Jana Ting - Pigrim Pianist

As published in the October/November 2004 issue of Stylus Magazine
(University of Winnipeg Students Association)

- By John Iverson

Jana Ting realized from a very young age that music was a fundamental part of her character. So she began music studies at the age of six, and since then has won several awards in the Winnipeg Music Festival, as well as some strong finishes in the Canadian Music Competition. These performances ultimately effected the purchase of a grand piano for this budding young musician.

But music was not at the forefront of her career aspirations back then, as Jana found engineering to be a more interesting subject. Thus she decided to attain her engineering degree at Waterloo University. And while there she managed to combine her love of music with her studies by working on a project developing a Braille translator for music, as well as helping out as a sound engineer for the university's community radio station. And she truly believes that art and science do in fact mesh, "I could not accept that there must be a division between arts and science. My hero was Leonardo da Vinci. He was a thinker and a feeler, a scientist, inventor and an artist all in one."

With her degree completed it was off to New York City to embark on a successful career as a systems engineer. But her passion for music was not left behind, as Jana widened her musical horizons while there with explorations through various styles of music. But her lifelong desire to explore the world led her to embark on a pilgrimage in Spain, where she affirms, "I met kindred spirits along the path, whose friendship I cherish to this day." Jana finally put down roots in London, England, having left behind the frenzied pace of life in New York.

But news of her father dying from cancer brought her promptly back to Winnipeg to be with him throughout his final days. His death in 2002 stimulated a latent desire in Jana to choose music as a career. This ultimately inspired her to obtain a diploma in piano performance, and an ARCT in Piano Teaching at the Royal Conservatory of Music. And even though she is now teaching piano, Jana still has dreams of studying music at university, as well as playing chamber music. And with all this new found knowledge and experience, Jana has also undertaken the endeavour of writing a book. Tentatively titled 'The Pilgrim Pianist', she hopes her first book will be completed by next winter. "My book aims to give encouragement and practical advice to amateur musicians in their journey through the world of music." How to practice efficiently, how to perform with confidence, and how to collaborate effectively with others are just some of the topics that the book will cover. The advice given is not just from Jana's own personal experiences, but also includes hours of research and interviews conducted with respected teachers and performers. She states that "the whole process has been very rewarding for me! In a sense, I am writing this book to teach myself!"

And what about inspiration musically? Jana cites several noted musicians for providing inspiration along her musical journey. She states that the most inspirational musicians are the ones who "innovate throughout their whole lives, surrender their soul completely to music, and have fun playing." Innovators Alfred Brendel and Yo-Yo Ma, high-spirited people like Arthur Rubinstein and Louis Armstrong, and passionate performers such as Marta Argerich and Claudio Arrau are among her favourites. She also notes that Beethoven is her childhood hero because of his "indomitable spirit and defiance of fate to produce music of the gods." Bach, Debussy and Rachmaninov have also had a strong influence on her musical spirit.

Jana currently has big plans to release her debut recording this year, with the CD release party also being a very special concert. This disc will be titled 'Roses in Winter', and is a tribute to her father and all others whose lives are affected by cancer. The title was chosen by Jana because "I want to say that there is love, life and beauty in the midst of death. Every day I discovered beauty and dignity of spirit at my father's bedside in the hospital. Roses in Winter symbolizes rebirth, beauty and renewal of spirit in the midst of death. In the ancient Greco-Roman culture, the rose depicted beauty, the season of spring, and love. It also alluded to the fleetness of time, and hence inferred death and the world beyond. Cancer often is linked with death. I want to give hope that transformation can happen in the presence of death, and to remind people to 'stop and smell the roses' in the presence of life." The potpourri of classical music to be included on this CD all relate to this theme of rebirth, beauty, and renewal of spirit through solo piano pieces by Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, Rachmaninov, Liszt and Szymanowski.

Jana's dad, John Ting, taught at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate for 29 years, so it is only fitting that this concert on November 28 will be held in Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall at the University of Winnipeg. This special tribute event will not only mark the CD release of 'Roses in Winter', but will announce the establishment of the John Ting memorial fund, an endowment to provide scholarships for students of the University of Winnipeg Collegiate.

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