Toronto has a long history of being classical music friendly, and it has caught the eye of many classically trained immigrants looking to make a home for themselves in Canada.
Such was the story for Marina and Yaakov Geringas, who came to Toronto from the Soviet Union in 1975. The two quickly became mainstays.
Shortly after they arrived, Marina was invited to play at 24 Sussex Drive. Without knowing the significance of the address, her friend drove her up in a beat-up car that broke down just after she got there.
Marina Geringas adopted the role of nurturing some of Canada’s top piano talents, including Andrew Burashko, Naida Cole, Vadim Serebryany, and Sonia Chan. She taught a piano pedagogy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, and after over 40 years of teaching, she died tragically in the summer of 2016. Her death left a devastating hole in the heart of Toronto’s tight-knit piano community.
“She was a very successful teacher of younger students in particular,” said William Aide, the former head of piano performance at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. “She gave them an exceptionally good grounding.”
Her husband, Yaakov Geringas, played an equally important role as a violinist in Toronto. He joined the Toronto Symphony and took a teaching position at the Royal Conservatory of Music. There, he headed a student orchestra, writing Shifting: Thirty Progressive Studies for Violinists, a well-known violin study book made popular by students and teachers alike.
In honour of Yaakov and Marina Geringas, the family has created The Geringas Memorial Scholarship to support the education of young classical musicians aged 12 – 17. The award, which will alternate annually between piano and strings, is made in partnership with Off Centre Music Salon and will include a $4000 prize. The cash prize is intended to cover tuition with a teacher of their choice or at any music school in the Greater Toronto Area, and includes a chance to perform in a concert at the Off Centre Music Salon next season. Finalists will receive a consolation prize of $250.
“Marina and Yaakov’s goal was not to produce professional classical musicians. It was to promote the love of music and the pursuit of excellence — qualities that could be transferred to any field of study or career,” states the scholarship’s website.
“ We recognize that a high-quality music education can be a financial hardship for families, and we want to make it at least a little bit easier […] The scholarship is awarded with their ideals in mind.”
The competition will start with piano for the 2018 year.
Applications are due March 15, 2018. See the website for all the details.
[Feb 5, 9:30 a.m. Correction: A previous versions stated that applications are due March 31, 2018, which is incorrect. The correct date is date is March 15. To clarify, the prize does not include free tuition. The $4000 cash prize is intended to be used to cover tuition at any music school or used to cover expenses to study with an independent music teacher.]
LUDWIG VAN TORONTO