Born in Hong Kong, I was a serious child, with the ambition of becoming a “grown-up” as soon as possible. I attended Maryknoll Convent School where my fondest memories were their amazing campus and emphasis on holistic education. My mother, a piano teacher, ensured that I studied with the most reputable piano teachers at the time. Apparently I grew up in a hurry, and embarked on a piano teaching career at age ten. In 1967, at age sixteen, I was admitted into McGill University, and subsequently received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Piano Performance. At age twenty, I held a teaching position at McGill University, and became the youngest examiner at the McGill Conservatory, all the while, actively performing as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician.
After we got married in 1973, my husband Felix Tso and I relocated to Vancouver, where I continued piano studies at University of British Columbia, and doctoral studies in education at Simon Fraser University. Thereafter, my career focus was in teaching, conducting master classes, and advising on recital boards. Having students consistently excel in national and international competitions, I gained recognition for my gift in nurturing talents, thus became one of the busiest teachers, examiners and adjudicators in Canada for several decades.
After raising two children, and mentoring countless musicians, I decided to retire at age fifty (forty years after my first teaching job). As a paradigm change, I took up downhill skiing at a “ripe” age, and in my relentlessly disciplined way, endured years of athletic training to become a ski instructor. When my husband retired from his business in 2002, we made our home in Whistler, where I now ski almost everyday in the winter, volunteer as a ski guide, and in the summer, take daily nature hikes. Felix also revived his interest in singing, and has been taking voice lessons at UBC. Together we produced two recordings (Felix-tenor; Ellen-piano) with selections from the opera and lieder repertoire. We entertain profusely in our mountain home, with Felix as the consummate chef. For a few months a year, we would travel the world in pursuit of our favourite music, food and scenery, in the company of our favourite people. Among the music events we attended recently were the Chopin International Piano Competition (2010) in Warsaw, the Van Cliburn Piano Competition (2013) in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition (2013) in Wales.
Although music was my lifelong passion and profession, writing was my first infatuation. Perhaps connection with Interlude is my destiny.
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