Syer, Laurie (Lindsay)

The happy days of her childhood made a tremendous impression on Laurie Syer. She remembers vividly the long days of summer, spent on the farm of Jack Davidson, her grandfather, and her close association with her cousin Alexa, who, like Laurie, came to Bergen in summertime to be with her grandmother, "Aunt Jean" Mjolsness.

Laurie was the second of six girls born to Betty and Thomas Duncan of Calgary. The summers at Bergen are what stand out most clearly in Laurie's memory of childhood. She remembers the lessons in grooming horses and riding bareback. There were sheep on the farm too, and Laurie loved being allowed to bottle-feed the lambs.

In Grade 10 she studied choral music under Glenn Potter. When he discovered her commitment to music, and her desire to be a violinist, he suggested that she play for Lise Elson, who was a professor at the University of Calgary. Laurie began studying with Dr. Elson shortly before her 16th birthday. A late starter where the instrument was concerned, Laurie began practising the violin five hours a day.

After graduation from high school, Laurie enrolled at the University of Calgary's Bachelor of Music program. In her third year she was in need of an accompanist, and boldly, decided to ask Jamie Syer, one year her senior, to fill the role. Much to her surprise and elation, he agreed, and in time the association became one of friendship. When Laurie graduated, she applied to the Hartt School of Music at Hartford, Connecticut, to work toward her Master of Music degree. After her graduation, she married Jamie.

Laurie played with many orchestras - the New Haven, Watersburg, New Britain and Bridgeport Symphonies. The Syers spent a brief time in Calgary, before returning to Mount Allison. In Calgary, Laurie became a full-time member of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. The Syers also formed a chamber group, performing four or five concerts a year, and as well, Laurie became a founding member of the popular "Allegra" string quartet.

The couple lived in Laurie's grandmother's house. All her love of farming was flooding back, and after nine years with the orchestra in Calgary, Laurie resigned, and she and Jamie bought land at Bergen. It was her Uncle Jim's land - the same land where she spent her childhood holidays.

In 1995 the Syers initiated what has become a major project, which is appropriately named "Strings and Keys". This event enabled youth to meet other music students, play instruments with them, have fun, and allowed them to be passionate about music. Laurie continues to play occasionally with the Calgary Philharmonic.

Category: Alberta