“The very first piece of classical music I heard was Saint-Saëns’ third violin concerto. I was 13, listening to a pocket-sized radio with earphones. I was born and raised in Hong Kong, and though my family wasn’t particularly musical, from that point, I was hooked on music ever since. “
Coming from a non-musical family, young Mandle had to be creative in his musical exploration:
“At school, harmonica band program was offered - I joined in grade 8. Our ‘score’ was written in numbers: C was 1, and then it went up, to B being 7... Then when I was about 15, I got to like Chopin, so I taught myself a few of his waltzes- we weren’t wealthy, but we did have an old upright piano.”
Upon his arrival in Canada in 1968, Mandle stuck to a sensible major, computer science - but he managed to pick up some music courses along the way; eventually he took up conducting with Arthur Polson. On the graduation concert that year, Mandle conducted Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. Later, he was invited to perform the Arthur Benjamin's Harmonica Concerto with the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra, with Eric Wilde conducting.
Unfortunately, that was the last musical activity for Mandle - for a few decades.
Moving to Toronto in 1975, Mandle worked for large corporations in software and networking; in 1987, Mandle struck out on his own, which brought him great business success. However, his yearning for music only grew stronger.
“…I did buy a couple of hundred CD’s - including Mahler 1 and 5, and attended performances of visiting orchestras. Then one day in 2015, I woke up thinking that if I still dream of conducting, I better get researching.”
It's never too late to dream a new dream. The desire to return to the podium meant learning a whole new world- the world of professional musicians and rehearsals, while balancing his business and personal life. Studying relentlessly at home with score and recordings, Mandle comes to each rehearsal anxious and uncertain - and each rehearsal he leaves with the greatest joy he’s ever felt. Mandle's goal is making his dream a reality, creating an opening in the world of symphony music where he could express his enthusiasm and passion for music.