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Helen had a long and distinguished career in classical music. At the age of 16 she played the Schumann Concerto with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. She toured western Canada as an accompanist for John Goss in 1940. She played as a soloist on CBC radio. She taught piano, she conducted, she examined, she adjudicated, and she was involved in many groundbreaking undertakings in various professional associations. As a member of the BC Arts Council in the early 1960s, she planted the seed that later became The Knowledge Network. She was president of the Canadian Federation Of Music Teachers' Associations and as recognition of her service and contribution, was made a lifetime Honorary President … the only other honorary president is the ceremonial position bestowed on whoever is the current Governor-General of Canada. As president of CMFTA she started Canada Music Week.
I knew her as a neighbour and as a musical icon. She was always curious and always interesting. When my wife Irene first moved to Rossland, Helen came across her in the grocery store, and recognizing her as new to town, was the first person to make her feel welcome. She then hired Irene to make some alterations to some clothes and hem some curtains … this planted the seed that prompted Irene to then start her own business as a seamstress. In 2008 when I was working on the 2010 Olympic ski jump I spent 4 months on a winch cat at the top of the ski jump with an excavator at the other end of 500 feet of winch line. The operator’s wife was a piano teacher, and when he told her he was working with a fellow from Rossland, she said to ask me if I knew Helen Dahlstrom … she remembered her fondly from her days with the Canadian Federation Of Music Teachers' Associations. I said yes I did know her, she was a neighbour, and when I got home at the end of that season I called Helen to say “Hi !” from the fellow’s wife, and that phone call resulted in these sessions.
And so I was fortunate to spend three hours with Helen over two sessions in August and October of 2008, at her home in Rossland. We talked about teaching, conducting, the brain, harmony and counterpoint, examining, adjudicating, musicianship, choirs, and more. She was 91 at the time.