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Why this is a Juno Award-winning musician’s favourite room

The living room of Joaquin Valdepenas, a clarinetist in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Philip Cheung/The Globe and Mail

World-renowned clarinetist Joaquin Valdepenas joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra after studying music at Yale, initially settling in the Bedford Park area in North Toronto. He moved a decade ago after his wife, TSO violinist Mi Hyon Kim, spied a house for sale just north of where they were living and they deemed it a better home in which to raise their two sons, both of whom have followed in their parents' footsteps to become musicians. The four-bedroom house was newly built, requiring little more than landscaping. Still, Valdepenas, who paints as a hobby, decided to brighten up the family room by adding some of his artwork along with pieces by fellow musicians. "It's a room for all our important get-togethers," says the Juno-Award-winning musician, whose next concert, with the Amici Chamber Ensemble, takes place at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. "It's where we have discussions, watch movies, set up the Christmas tree. It is the centre of the house."

The tree

"I purchased this when I first moved to Toronto, so it's 30-plus years old. That tree is the healthiest thing. The kids have grown up with it. It's part of the family. I don't know what I'll do with it if we ever downsize."

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The couch

"We ordered this couch before we moved into the house. It was supposed to be white – which it isn't. It's more cream-coloured, but we decided to keep it anyway."

The tree painting

"This is one of mine, and it looks like birch trees, but it is not. These are aspens, and I painted them because each summer I live in Aspen, Colo., where I am on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School. Aspens are very unique trees. They produce eyes where they lose their limbs. I find that intriguing."

The elephants

"These were given to us by a dear friend in the orchestra, on one of her visits to our home."

The coffee table

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"We found this in one of the furniture stores on King Street West and it is made of glass, so that whatever you put underneath – the books or magazines you are reading – you can see. I like that it is casual and open."

The rug

"We bought this at an auction many years ago. It is one of many rugs we have in the house. I like the colour red."

The chairs

"We got these because they are so incredibly comfortable, even though they look bulky. You can lie on them, sit on them sideways. They slide around so you can put them where you want."

The abstract painting

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"This is by the Israeli musician Rivka Golani, a viola player who at one time lived in Toronto. She performed with the TSO as well as the Montreal Symphony, among other international orchestras. I paint as a hobby, but she is a more prolific painter and I wanted to have one of her pieces for myself. This one is called Wild Awakening."

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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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