Saturday, December 29, 2012

Skating at The Forks

Yesterday I had an amazing morning at The Forks. As a kid I used to love going skating on the river trail downtown, so when I read in the Winnipeg Free Press that the ice was frozen and ready to skate on, I decided to take a trip to the market.

I began the day with a hearty breakfast from Danny's, walked around for a little while to look at the shops, and then eventually made my way outside. The air was cold, but I was more concerned about falling on my butt than about my ears turning red or my nose dripping.

After a while I started gaining confidence in my skating ability and soon I was doing laps around the ice. I think I probably spent 45 minutes outside just gliding around, going backwards, trying to do the bunny hop. It was a lot of fun!

I feel like I had such a great time there yesterday, I might just have to fit in another visit to The Forks before classes start again. Currently only a portion of the river trail is open, so it'd be nice to go back there again this winter when the whole thing is open.

But enough about skating! I was looking at The Forks' website and it looks like there are a lot of other fun things being planned for this winter. To check out what's coming, click here.

Happy holidays everyone, and good luck in the new year!

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Friday, December 21, 2012

A Review of the Winnipeg Symphony (Mahler No. 7 in E minor)

Ballerinas could learn a few things from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's (WSO) conductor.

As Alexander Mickelthwate, the music director at the WSO, conducted the 79 musicians sitting on the stage, he showed such grace and fluid movement from his shoulders to the tips of his fingers, he easily could have brought a tear to the eye of any ballet instructor. 

On Friday, November 16, the WSO performed Mahler No. 7 in E minor to an almost full house of 1,030 at the Centennial Concert hall. Mahler No. 7 in E minor contains five movements, each portraying a different emotion, as Mickelthwate explained to the audience during a brief introduction before the music began. 

The first movement is dark and depressing, beginning with a slow melody, and ending with a crying crescendo. This portion of the piece sets the tone for the rest and informs the audience that they are about to embark on an emotional journey. 

The second movement is more energetic, beginning with a quick tempo and highlighting the horns and trumpets.

The third movement transports the audience to a place even darker than the first, and “brings forth the demons,” said Mickelthwate. Half way through the movement, clanking sounds could be heard from behind the audience, and everyone turned in their seats to see where the noise was coming from.

The fourth movement was my personal favourite and accentuated the percussion instruments, while quieting many of the strings. The fourth movement also featured a brief, albeit spellbinding, accent of a lone guitar which, after the absence of the other strings for several minutes, reminded the audience of the effect of a single instrument from the string family.

The final movement sounded much like the second with its up-beat mood and heavy use of strings. When the performance came to a close, the crescendo was brilliant. It used every instrument on the stage, and the suspicious ones behind the audience, and brought the volume in the house so high that it was difficult to discern the drums from the trumpets.  

The conclusion was fitting for a performance that fulfilled its promise of eliciting an emotional response.

When the music ended, much of the audience rose for a standing ovation, and then over the next five minutes each performer responded by giving a wave and a bow.

The performance, which ran for 80 minutes, lacked an intermission and while the original score doesn't call for one, it's likely a small break would allow the audience some respite from the weighty material and refresh themselves to better enjoy the second half. Without an interlude, after an hour of sitting audience members began shifting in their seats.

While Mahler’s piece is emotionally exhausting, one shouldn’t worry about dozing off during the performance. You only need to keep your eyes on Mickelthwate’s performance to have your eyes, along with your ears, entertained. The WSO offered two performances of the piece, one each on the evening of November 16 and 17.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to Ace a Phone Interview

Can you hear me smiling?

When researching how to prepare for my telephone interview, the number one tip I read was “be sure to smile”. Apparently, the interviewer will be able to hear if you are smiling or not during the conversation.

I wasn’t too surprised because the same theory applies in our radio class, but it was strange to read tips from Human Resource managers describing how they can hear on the telephone if someone is smiling.

I also read that one should stand during a telephone interview as it makes the interviewee more alert and focused. I guess that our natural relaxation gene kicks in the moment we sit down.

Another common suggestion is to have a list of key accomplishments printed and close by the phone. The list will act as a reminder if you blank during a question. If that happens, just look at your list and find an example rather than filling the empty air with “um, oh let me see, I'm sure there was a time I did that ...”.

Some other tips include:
  • Have a pen and paper handy and when the interviewer calls, write down their name so that you can repeat it during the interview.
  • Be sure to thank the interviewer by name at the end of the phone call.
  • Jot down notes during the phone call of any important information that you may want to remember afterwards. You don’t have the opportunity of that casual walk back to the reception counter where you can ask to be reminded of the position start date.
  • Have a printed copy of your application letter and resume handy. The interviewer may be looking at it and refer to it during the interview and you may want to as well.
  • Prepare some answers to common questions just like you would for a face-to-face interview. Why do you want this position? What qualifications do you have that relate to this position? Can you provide an example of when you have done this type of work task before? Have you ever had a conflict with a co-worker or customer and how did you resolve it?
  • Make sure that you are in a quiet space for the interview. Clear everyone else out of the house or at least out of the room you will be using.
  • Listen very carefully to the questions and be sure to answer the question you were asked – don’t wander too far off course in your answer.
  • Don’t rush your answers, it is alright to take a moment or two to prepare your response to a question.
  • Speak slowly and clearly, have a glass of water handy for a quick sip if your throat gets dry.
  • As with any interview, phone or face-to-face, be sure to have a question or two ready to ask the interviewer. When do you expect to be making your decision? Would you like to contact my references? How would you describe your organization’s culture? What do you like best / enjoy the most about working for the [name] company?
  • As mentioned above, stand up and smile, smile, smile!

My telephone interview to be one of Disney’s college interns this summer took place Monday afternoon and it went very smoothly thanks to those tips I found online.

The interview lasted about 10-15 minutes and I was asked 6 questions. The questions were pretty standard. Why Disney? Would these dates fit into your schedule? How would you deal with working long shifts and in Florida’s heat? What position do you see yourself doing if you are chosen to be one of our interns? How do you feel about living with a roommate? What can you offer Disney?

In about two weeks they will let me know if I have made it to the face-to-face round of interviews. Woo!
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