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Profile 3 – Emily McPherson

By Christine Hamelin
with photography by Kat Kopiak Coffey

Emily McPherson, an accomplished musician, teacher and choir director, generously shares her musical gifts, her warmth, her dedication and her positive attitude with others. She has found joy in community music. Throughout her career, which has brought both challenges and opportunities, she has learned that music is not a competition or merely a performance but a shared celebration.

A pretty woman with blond hair and an open, peaceful face, Emily grew up in Napanee with her three siblings. Their father, Bruce McPherson Jr., ran the Gibbard Furniture Factory and Store with his father and brothers; and their mother, Penny (Smith), was a teacher. “Both my parents were wonderfully musical. Mom was always singing, and Dad would play the guitar, and they loved playing together for fun,” she recalls. It wasn’t long before her own musical path began to take shape. When Emily was seven, following her sister’s lead, she started taking piano lessons from Linda McConnell, the pianist from their church. She also started singing in the church choir.

When Emily was nine, Linda moved away. “My mother called Martha Hill Duncan in Kingston to see if she had a place for me; Mom had seen her adjudicate at a Kiwanis Music Festival I played at.” Martha agreed to take her on, as well as four of her best friends, who had also studied with Linda. Emily learned from Martha until she left for university. . . .