OrKidstra stories: Meet David Joseph and Kafele Bernard-Edwin

Kafele Bernard-Edwin played the violin during his time with OrKidstra. He still comes back to the Bronson Centre because of the sense of community it gives him. Photo: Peter Robb

David Joseph is an 18 year old Grade 12 student at Lisgar High School.

He’s been in OrKidstra for about five years, or since Grade 7. He says he’s going to Canada Christian College in Toronto next fall where he will study music.

David’s a personable young man who’s not afraid to rap a message in a program or to belt out some classical via his French horn. On the day we talked David was getting some instruction in horn technique from the NAC Orchestra’s principal horn player Lawrence Vine.

He got into OrKidstra through his sisters. He has four of them along with a brother. His parents came to Canada from Haiti. Interestingly enough, David’s mother works at St. Vincent Hospital which is right across Bronson Avenue from the Bronson Centre which is OrKidstra’s Centretown home.

“When I wasn’t in the program I attended one of the concerts that my sisters were part of and I thought it was cool. There were all these kids having fun. And I thought I’d like to see how it felt to be part of that program.

“My sister had already told Miss Tina (Fedeski) about me. I was already playing French horn in elementary school (at York Street Public School).” The ever-prepared Tina Fedeski already had made a place for him.

So what is he learning here?

David Joseph practices his French horn with help from NACO’s Lawrence Vine. Photo: Peter Robb

“I’m learning to be responsible and to show respect. And I’m learning to get along with a lot of people through this program. It’s really easy to make friends here,” says David, who admits to being a bit shy before joining up wth OrKidstra.

Kafele Bernard-Edwin plays the violin. His name means ‘Worth Dying For’.

“I started seven years ago. I didn’t plan on playing the violin but my teacher at St. Patrick’s intermediate suggested it and I got into it.

That same teacher also worked with OrKidstra and she suggested Kafele give that a try too.

These days he’s studying neuroscience and biology at Carleton but he keeps coming back to the Bronson Centre.

“It really felt like a family to me. When I was a lot younger I was introverted. It definitely helped that. I want to come back, there is a lot of love here and you want to come back. People literally support each other musically and outside of music too.

“I came back because I wanted to. I wanted to continue. But there is mentoring aspect to it.

Both of Kafele’s parents come from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. He has four brothers, all of whom were born in Canada. His two younger brothers were involved for awhile but they left the program. He stayed because:

“Music is one part of the reason I stayed. But it really is the people. If I didn’t like anyone here, I wouldn’t have stayed.

He says he is studying neuroscience because “I just always found the brain to be the most interesting of all things. It’s the most complicated organ.”

But music still holds an attraction. He still practice regularly and he plays with “some friends who also graduated from the program. We get together and play for fun.” He’s even looking forward to doing some busking this summer.

“You are can express yourself through music. It’s interesting when you are playing sometimes you have an image or a feeling that you are putting into your music. And through that medium you are giving that image to other people. I love that.”

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.