St. Vital prodigy stunned New York audiences

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/03/2015 (2863 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On July 31, 1938 nine-year old Valdine Conde walked on to the stage of Federal Theatre in New York City, sat down at the piano and blew away the audience.

The unusually gifted child so aroused the audience with her brilliant performance that she was applauded for eight minutes at the work’s conclusion,” wrote one reviewer.

The concert was not only the first outside of Canada for Conde — it was the first time she’d played with an orchestra.

Supplied photo Valdine Conde, a music child prodigy who grew up on St. Mary’s Road, played for audiences in New York City at just nine years old.

The New York Herald Tribune also praised her technique.

“The attractive blond youngster disclosed a highly developed, secure technique and a crisp touch,” the review stated.

So who is Valdine Conde, and why was she playing piano in New York, instead of playing with her friends near her home on St. Mary’s Road near Kingston Row?

Conde’s musical genius began to show through just before her third birthday. By the age of three, she astonished everyone with her ability to read music and even play difficult pieces. At age five she played before a sellout crown at the Winnipeg Civic Auditorium, now known as the Provincial Archives Building.

     
Conde went on to astonish audiences around the world but, unfortunately, little is known about the pianist following the Second World War.

Unlike an earlier St. Vital musical child prodigy, Lorne Monroe, Conde dropped out of sight while Monroe, who left his Sunset Boulevard home at age 12 to study the cello in London, U.K., went on to be the principal cellist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Due to uncertainty surrounding the proposed reconstruction of the 110-year old floors in the fire hall, the St. Vital Museum’s annual pancake breakfast has been postponed until further notice. It is usually held on the last weekend of May, in conjunction with Doors Open Winnipeg, which this year will run on May 30-31.

Regardless of construction, the museum will participate in Doors Open to show off the magnificent building and, of course, the 1939 Fargo Fire Truck.

By that time, the museum’s new display room should also be filled with display cases, counters and cabinets purchased from the Winnipeg Police Museum.

The museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Group tours are available by e-mailing tours@svhs.ca.

Bob Holliday is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email him at docholliday90@me.com

Bob Holliday

Bob Holliday
St. Vital community correspondent

Bob Holliday was a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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