June 23rd, 2018

A taste of the big leagues

By Mo Cranker on August 6, 2017.

Former Hatter and McCoy graduate Fiona Chisholm poses for a photo with members for the Chicago symphony orchestra during one of her two performances with the group. -- SUBMITTED PHOTO


A former Hatter and McCoy graduate has gotten a taste of one of the biggest stages in North America.

Fiona Chisholm, who graduated from McCoy in 2008, has now had two chances to play the French horn in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the top professional orchestras in the world.

“It was fantastic, priceless and unforgettable,” she said after finishing up a rehearsal in Chicago. “I study with a couple of the members of the orchestra, so I was lucky enough to get asked to fill in twice now when the orchestra has needed a French horn player.”

Being one of the top symphony orchestras in the world, Chisholm admits she has some nerves when stepping onto the stage with the group of 60-80 others.

“Getting up on that stage was pretty terrifying honestly, but when you’re in the moment you just rise to the occasion and play your piece — it’s a really great feeling,” she said. “These performances are something I’m not going to forget any time soon. They’ve been great learning experiences for me.”

Originally from Scotland, Chisholm and her family moved to Medicine Hat in 2001, and shortly after that, she started playing in school bands. She then went on to study her undergrad at the University of Lethbridge, then her masters at DePaul University in Chicago. She is now in the process of completing a post-graduate certificate while continuing to look for any chances to perform when she can.

“Whenever I get asked to fill in I get to play with the band I’m going to take it,” she said.

Living full time in Chicago, Chisholm says she is only able to visit Medicine Hat during the holidays, but that she does miss parts of it.

“I think there is a beauty to the prairies,” she said. “I’m in Chicago now and I really like it here, but when I do get to go back to Medicine Hat it’s always a good experience.”

As for what’s next, Chisholm says her future is still very much undecided.

“It’s still up in the air right now,” she said. “I’m done with school, I know that I’ve been in school long enough. But what I do next, I’m not too sure about.”

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