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. Volume VIII Number 14 . . . . March 15, 2002
Pearl Palmason, one of the first women in Canada to pursue a career as an orchestral player, was born in Winnipeg in 1915 to parents who had emigrated from Iceland. At the age of nine, she was, as she puts it "...hooked on the violin." From that early age, Pearl knew that she wanted to be a violinist and that a love of the fiddle was the overriding passion in her life. Pearl -- A Passion for the Fiddle is a 23 minute documentary celebrating Pearl's accomplishments. The film is taken up primarily with personal reminiscences and is divided into the important stages of Pearl's musical life. Photos of Pearl as a vibrant and beautiful musician, generally with her beloved fiddle tucked under her chin, are interspersed with her 85-year-old self mulling over those far-off days.
Beginning with years spent at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, the film moves through her time studying under Carl Flesch in London, her thoughts on playing, her experience as a soloist and her career with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Pearl was a well- preserved sharp-minded 85-year-old woman when this film was made. She talks about her life with humour and honesty. Speaking of her success as a soloist in New York City and her experiences as an orchestral player, she exudes the intensity of feeling which she claims is so necessary to be a violinist. She is proud of her successful effort to open the way for women to play on national television orchestras. Remembering those times, she says with a chuckle, "For a women in those days [to be an orchestra player] you had to be great!"
Unfortunately, there is a home-made quality to the video that undermines its lofty themes. More rigorous editing would have smoothed the flow of the film and avoided irritating instances where it is difficult for the viewer to determine the identity of the "he" being discussed. The ending of the film is puzzling. Instead of a shot of Pearl and her fiddle, the viewer sees a painting of a young nude woman reclining on a sofa. The identity and meaning of this last image is murky at best.
It is unlikely that this video would be of interest or use to teachers of music or history in a secondary school setting and, therefore, does not seem a justifiable purchase for a school or divisional media collection.
Recommended with reservations.
Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian living in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.