Brossard Plus Journal Interviews Minna Re Shin

Profile: Minna Re Shin by David Kurtz

“In the words of famous pastry chef Jacques Torres, ‘Life is short. Eat dessert first!'” That statement, made with a characteristic twinkle in her eye, pretty well sums up how Minna Re Shin approaches life.

On her Twitter social networking page, Shin describes herself as a performing artist, music theorist, arts blogger and “foodie” who appreciates the finer things in life. In person the petite concert pianist and ardent lover of the arts simply radiates with a natural joie de vivre.

“If I were not talented in music, then I would probably pursue dance. Around the time I started to study piano, I also began taking ballet lessons at the Académie des grands ballets canadiens.” Because both disciplines are extremely demanding, she had to decide on one or the other. “I ended up choosing piano.”

Shin began studying piano at the age of six and, within four short years, made her solo debut at the age of 10 with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Mario Duschenes, the well-known German-born Canadian flautist and conductor. That same year she made her radio premiere when she performed work that was broadcast over the Radio-Canada network. Shin never looked back.

This dynamic musician has earned high praise as a recitalist, chamber pianist and soloist in concerts with major orchestras, such as the Montréal Chamber Orchestra, the chamber orchestra I Musici de Montréal and the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières. She has appeared as a guest artist on television programs, and her performances have been widely aired on the radio across Canada.

Despite already being an accomplished and renowned performing artist, Shin decided to pursue the academic side of music. “It never hurts to continue to learn. I always had a knack for music theory and analysis, and when I received my first PhD, I was still really young. So I decided to further my education and knowledge in another music discipline,” she says modestly.

In addition to her Master and Bachelor degrees in solo performance, Shin holds a PhD in Music in piano performance specializing in 20th-century repertoire from the Université de Montréal and another doctorate in music theory with emphasis on 19th-century music from McGill University.

Shin has received high accolades performing at international recitals and music festivals on every continent except South America. “It’s a small world but, at the same time, it’s a big world. So it’s really impossible to visit every part of it in your lifetime.”

Are there still some global destinations she would like to visit? “I love to travel and would like to visit Turkey,” Shin replies without missing a heartbeat. “It has such a rich history and cultural heritage because of its strategic location at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Also, on my list of must-see places are Hong Kong, considered a shopper’s paradise, and Argentina and Peru—ethically and culturally diverse countries that I find extremely intriguing.”

A recipient of numerous awards, fellowships and grants, Shin has won numerous prizes in national and international competitions, all to rave reviews. But when asked about her proudest achievement, she wastes no time at all sifting through her many accomplishments: “Being recognized for my contribution to the performing arts and acknowledged as one of the best ambassadors of Ville de Brossard!”

This past February, at the 25th official presentation of the Brossard Order of Merit, Shin received a special prize from the municipal council. The award honours Brossard residents who have demonstrated exceptional commitment towards their community.

“I pretty much have always lived in Brossard and love it here,” reflects Shin. “The municipality, with its lovely residential and park areas, is ethnically diverse and quite autonomous. You can find almost everything right here: restaurants—including various food stores, artisan bakeries, pastry, chocolate, and gourmet shops—and shopping malls such as the Quartier Dix30, considered Canada’s first lifestyle centre, ” she enthuses. “Plus Brossard is under constant municipal and urban development—social, cultural, and environmental—and that makes this town a practical and delightful place to live!”

So what does a two-time Doctor of Music with a brilliant performing career and a travel bug like to watch and read? “Well, there are so many great films that have been produced. Let’s see, here are several favourites… Scent of a Woman (the tango dance and the Ferrari driving scenes are memorable), Radu Mihaileanu’s Live and Become and Good Will Hunting (fine script by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck).” In the same breath, Shin recites some of her top book picks. “I’d have to say Like Water for Chocolate by Mexican writer Laura Esquivel and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author.”

Shin quickly grabs her own pen and pad as the interview winds down, running off to tackle yet another of her great passions: savoring excellent dishes from all corners of the globe. “I love writing reviews of all my favourite restaurants. My next blog article will be about French bistro-restaurant Laloux in the Plateau Mont-Royal area.”

The 64-thousand-dollar question on this author’s mind is: will she start with dessert?

Brossard Plus Journal, March 17, 2010

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