Brothers Simon and Malcolm Hauber are bringing beautiful music to Bethany Mennonite Church this Sunday morning.
Congregation member Dave Dick says he heard the violinists play at the church last year and couldn’t wait to have them back to complement the service.
“They are spectacular,” says Dick. “To see and hear these young boys play is really something. You can tell they put a huge amount of practice into what they do. They are like the Olympic athletes of music.”
That’s more of an apt description than Dick probably even knows, as 17-year-old Simon and Malcolm, 14, have been booked to play music on a number of occasions at Niagara Place, the new central gathering spot during the Canada Summer Games.
Malcolm recently performed with his École Secondaire Catholique Saint-Jean-de-Brebeuf school band at the Francophone Hub, and they will be teaming up to perform a mix of French Canadian and Celtic music, with Simon on fiddle and Malcolm on keyboards, over the two-week-long sporting event.
The brothers have been studying violin since their early years. Simon took up the instrument when he was just four years old, and Malcolm began at age seven.
“I saw Simon playing and I got a bit jealous,” Malcolm says. “So I wanted to do it myself.”
Both credit Niagara Symphony Orchestra violinist Mary Beth Doherty for their proficiency on the instrument. As well, attendance at the symphony’s Summer Music Camps and their membership in the Niagara Youth Orchestra has allowed them to hone their skills and further develop their ability to read music.
In conversation, Malcolm and Simon often finish each other’s sentences. Their shared enthusiasm and joy for both classical and traditional folk music comes across as natural.
Simon, who will graduate from Brebeuf in June, 2023, plans to study violin at either McGill University or the University of Toronto, in hopes of eventually earning a spot in a major orchestra and possibly hanging out his shingle as a violin teacher himself one day. He also leaves open the possibility of conducting in the future.
Simon also plays piano, and is equally adept at both classical violin and fiddling. He says he loves and enjoys the balance the two differing disciplines bring.
“It’s a very nice change to go from classical to fiddling,” he says. “Fiddling is very much by ear for me. The approach to learning the music is fundamentally different. Classical comes from the page, and with fiddle music, you learn it with whoever is playing it with you. You’re less bound by the music.”
Simon loves to collaborate, and says some of the most important musical experiences he’s had thus far have come from making connections at the Interprovincial Music Camp in Parry Sound. Also, this summer he spent a month at the Camp Musical des Laurentides near Saint-Sauveur, Quebec.
“I highly suggest to anyone who’s thinking of going into music as a career to branch out and meet people,” says Simon. “They (the camps) are full of other musicians. It’s a great place to grow and learn.”
The brothers are both fluent in French and English. In fact, Malcolm says he recently wrote that he was “professionally fluent” in French on a part-time job application to a St. Catharines fast food franchise.
Though Malcolm has also branched out to learn piano, bass guitar and even the drums, at his age he’s not sure where it will all take him.
“I think music will always be a part of my life,” he says. “I’m only going into Grade 10, so I have a lot of time to figure these things out.”
Their mother, Michelene, says Malcolm also enjoys singing, and will often be asked to sit in with bands on various instruments. She’s clearly proud of the musical accomplishment of her two youngest (of four) boys.
The Haubers will be playing a prelude at Sunday’s service at Bethany, accompanying the choir for hymns, and providing some quiet, meditative classical music during reflective moments.
Says Dick, a former member himself of the Niagara Youth Orchestra, “I like to see young musicians encouraged to play before an audience. I want the public to hear them. Everyone is welcome at the Sunday morning (10 a.m.) service.”