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In our April 26 issue  Myron Love reported on the success several young students in our community had at this year’s Winnipeg Music Festival. One of those students was 15-year-old Alyssa Cohen, who plays classical guitar.

Here is what Myron wrote about Alyssa in that issue: “Alyssa Cohen is one of the members of our Jewish community who continues to shine at the festival year after year. The Garden City Collegiate Grade 9 student’s instrument is the classical guitar. The daughter of Robert and Sandy Cohen has been playing the guitar since she was six. She reports that she has won several gold medals over the years at the Winnipeg Music Festival in her categories. She has also performed numerous times at her school, also made appearances at the Planetarium, Eckhardt Grammaté Hall at the University of Winnipeg and at Congregation Etz Chayim (for a Women’s League program).
“In the festival last year, she finished first in Classical Guitar Solo, Romantic Composers and 20/21st Century Composers, Grade 6 Levels. She was also runner-up for the Institute of Chartered Piano Tuners of Manitoba Trophy (which, she notes, is quite an accomplishment for a classical guitar player) and won a Winnipeg Classical Guitar Society scholarship.
“This year, the young classical guitarist also finished first in Classical Guitar Solo, Romantic Composers and 20/21st Century Composers at the Grade 7 Level. And she once again received a Winnipeg Classical Guitar Society scholarship. Her next stop is the upcoming provincial competition.”
That competition, known as the Associated Manitoba Arts Festival, was recently held in Winnipeg from May 26-28. It involved some of the most musically talented students from schools all over Manitoba, not just Winnipeg.
As a follow-up to Myron’s report, we are pleased to report that Alyssa finished first in that provincial competition as well in the category “Intermediate Classical Guitar”.
Interestingly, as a result of reading about Alyssa in our paper, Percy Golubchuk who, along with his sister Miriam Geller, has been organizing an annual dinner at the Talmud Torah-Beth Jacob Synagogue, contacted Alyssa asking her whether she would perform at this year’s dinner. Alyssa graciously accepted; she told me that it was her first-ever paid “gig”.
The over 70 attendees at that dinner, enjoyed listening to Alyssa performing following the meal, as she displayed her musical vituosity. Considering the many distractions that were going on while Alyssa was playing - including someone clearing tables around her and someone else “horking” in the background, she showed remarkable composure. (You can watch a video of Alyssa  playing “Erev shel Shoshanim” and “Hava Nagila” on our website,
I should mention that the meal at this year’s dinner was prepared by the always excellent Chabad Winnipeg chef, Alla Golinkin. The Chabad kitchens provide  a full choice of kosher meat or pareve meals. Alla’s food is consistently delicious - and you don’t have to be kosher to appreciate how good it is. You can find out more about Chabad’s catering service on the Chabad Winnipeg website.

One final note: As I remarked to Alyssa’s mother Sandy, Alyssa owes a debt of gratitude to my wife. Some of the money collected for the dinner had been put into a locked box for which. apparently, there was no key. Meachelle, who is adept at prying bills out of my wallet, was able to slip her artful fingers into an opening in the box and pull out enough money to make Alyssa’s performance worthwhile for her.

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