Ronée Boyce is a local pianist who has played Carnegie Hall, sees colour when she hears sound and is bringing classical music to Etobicoke with The Neapolitan Connection Concert Series. This coming Saturday, The Assembly Hall at Lakeshore and Kipling will swell with the emotionally moving symphonies of Debussy, Duparc, Ravel and Poulenc, or what is known in sophisticated string circles as French Impressions. Impressionism wasn’t reserved for artists like Claude Monet or Pierre Auguste-Renoir, the movement also extended to music.
I went to high school with Ronée and recall fondly how she could mesmerize a great hall full of 600 teenage girls, a near impossible feat. Three times a week, our entire student body would congregate in for what was known as “Prayers.” We’d line the halls to have our uniform inspected (socks up, shirt tucked, skirt knee length) and march in organized lines silently into the hall to sit in rows, sing hymns, hear announcements and receive inspirational words of sort. Our grand entrance always had accompanying music, sometimes the Senior Band or Chamber Choir, but often it was Ronée on the piano. Days began well when she played. That was over a decade ago, so I can’t wait to see what she is like today after years of intense training at both UofT’s Piano Performance Program (talk about niche!) and L’Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris.
“My dream has always been to be a concert pianist.” Ronée says to me, and what tremendous respect I have for her, for that is not an easy thing to be. But let’s get to the really interesting part: Ronee can see colours when she hears music. This makes her one of few lucky people on earth that has what is known as Synthesesia, or when senses come together. Specifically, Ronee has a form of Synesthesia called Chromesthesia, or associating various tones with colour. WOW. Double WOW. WHAT?That’s right, when Ronee hears certain notes, fogs of colour emerge. (Double Rainbow guy, get ready to explode.)
“Okay, so what is, like, D?” I ask.
“If I’m in the key of D major…it’s bathed in a backdrop of green.”
“Coooool. Do you ever see Tie Dye, like a Grateful Dead shirt?”
“No. E is sky blue and F is grey-purple….and it smells bad.”
Although you might not see colour on Saturday, I can assure you that Ronee and her fellow chamber mates will awe and lift you to a place more magical than The Assembly Hall in Etobicoke.
The Neapolitan Connection Concert Series presents French Impressions: Soirees with Debussy, Duparc, Ravel and Poulenc
Ronée Boyce, Piano
Ramona Carmelly, Mezzo-Soprano
Laura Chambers, Flute
Derek Kwan, Tenor
Liza McLellan, Cello
Tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased at www.neapolitanconnection.com.