PEI

Queen's County Music Festival welcomes 89-year-old to competition

P.E.I.'s Queens County Music Festival is recognized as a venue for hundreds of student performers to show off what they've learned, but this year a piano veteran is joining the competition.

89-year-Helen MacRae will play a duet with her niece

Helen MacRae will play a duet with her niece Susan Stewart at this year's Queen's County Music Festival (Laura Meader/CBC)

P.E.I.'s Queens County Music Festival is recognized as a venue for hundreds of student performers to show off what they've learned, but this year a piano veteran is joining the competition.

Eighty-nine-year-old Helen MacRae told CBC News she couldn't say no when her niece asked her to play a duet at the competition. She has played at music festivals before, but "not lately."

"I think it's rather unusual at this point in time," said MacRae, who has been playing piano since she was eight.

"I feel like a dinosaur but, you know, we're having a good time and it's sounding reasonably good."

'I just like the connection'

Susan Stewart has been listening to her aunt play all her life. (Laura Meader/CBC)

MacRae usually sticks to performing in seniors homes or for religious services, and playing at home. Her niece, Susan Stewart, has been listening to her play all her life. When Stewart learned to play, they played together.

"I like playing with Helen because she's very musical, and I just like the connection of playing with my aunt," she said.

The two will play a duet at the festival, J.S. Bach's Sheep May Safely Graze. Stewart said they are the only ones in the family class, so she is expecting a first place finish.

MacRae credits her love of music for her long and healthy life. Even as she approaches her 90th birthday she says she has lots of energy to do the things she wants to do. The music keeps her motivated.

"I love the music. I love the feeling that I get when I play," she said.

Playing music is all she ever wanted to do, she said, and she is happy, after some decades, to return to the music festival to do it.

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with files from Laura Meader

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