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How this lover of the arts incorporated real trees into her music room

Seven years ago, Marilyn Field, the founder of DAREarts, a charity that supports at-risk youth through arts exposure, moved from Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood to a spacious new home in Hockley Valley, near Palgrave, Ont., built by her husband, John Pennie, who chairs a wind-energy company and has a talent for woodwork.

Chateau Windrush, as the house is called, has ceilings that soar 35 feet above a top-floor music room, Field's favourite spot in the house. She uses the space to host benefit concerts for her charity, which, on April 25, will host its first public event at Toronto's newly renovated Arcadian Court. The former piano teacher describes her music room as "an intimate space. We have had many moving performances here, from Véronique Mathieu, Jean Stilwell and Michael Burgess to Leahy, along with some Chinese acrobats, to name a few."

The piano

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"The Yamaha grand piano was a long-ago major purchase when I was a young school teacher. It is a warm reminder of my previous life in the Beach, where I taught kids piano at night after school. The piano is also my connection to the preciousness of life. Music was my only connection to my mom, who died when I was 2 and then, recently, to my dad, who died with a song in his heart. It also reminds me of the hope we can give kids through their own creativity."

The ottoman

"It's on casters, which comes in handy when my granddaughter comes over with her preteen friends to create dance routines while they slide along on the sprung maple floor."

The painting

"The flaming red oil-on-canvas portrait is by Quebec artist Virginie Bocaert. We got it at the Thompson Landry Gallery, one of my favourite places in Toronto's Distillery District. I love it because in it I see delicacy and energy dancing together."

The trees

"These are young silver birch trees rescued by interior designer Sinclair Russell from a land clearing. He gave them to me and I think they give the room a festive flair, particularly at night, when their little white lights are turned on."

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The ship

"This a custom model of Nelson's flagship, the Victory, made for us by Captain Lou Boudreau of Nova Scotia. It comes with a copper-plated hull."

The table

"My husband made it. It's a red-oak coffee table that was made to fit the extra-long couches."

The bowl

"This maple bowl is by a local Headwaters wood sculptor, Chris Goodhand. I love the shape."

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Editor's note: DAREarts' first public charity will be held April 25. An incorrect date appeared in an earlier version of this article.

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About the Author

Deirdre Kelly is a features writer for The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the best-selling Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection (Greystone Books). More

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