Connor Mahon will tickle the ivories in March 10 benefit concert

PONSONBY – Connor Mahon was four-and-a-half when he showed an interest in the piano and his parents went to great lengths to find a teacher who would take a student under six, which is typically when children start piano.

“We kind of acted quickly to capture that interest and found a teacher who would work with him that young,” Connor’s mother Alexis Hoy said in an interview.

“So we were lucky enough to find somebody who saw what we saw, I guess, and he just took off from there.”

Connor is now 12 and he’s a dedicated pianist and music learner.

He’s home-schooled during the week, which allows him to attend the Royal Conservatory’s Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists in Toronto on weekends.

He also gets piano training from three local teachers and on the side he studies cello, just for kicks.

And he’s holding his second concert to benefit the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington and its Free to Grow program, which provides funding to low-income families for children to take extra-curricular activities, including music, sports and even driving lessons.

The concert is at St. George’s Anglican Church in Guelph on March 10 at 3pm.

“The school in Toronto is a very wonderful environment for Connor and to meet people like Salma and Ryan (who are also performing with Connor) that he can play with,” said Connor’s father Thomas Mahon.

“But I think in going there, we’ve recognized how it’s not available to everybody.”

He added, “It’s very far, it’s expensive. It’s a very difficult thing to fit in and that’s how we kind of circled back to this charity, the Children’s Foundation Free to Grow program.

“It’s specifically about trying to help enable people who don’t have the same opportunities to still get to study music or do the things they love.”

Connor plans on attending the Toronto school until he finishes high school, “and then we’ll see” where his interests and his talent lead him. 

What he loves about music is its depth and broad reach.

“There are so many things that you can do with music,” he said. 

“You can write it and you can play it, or other people can play it. And there are so many different ways to play it.

“It’s not one dimensional at all. You can turn it into so many different things and it’s very it’s cool to do all that.”

Talent oozed from Connor’s fingers as he played the baby grand Steinway in his living room during an interview.

The piece Fantasy, which he wrote last year, allowed him to challenge his musical chops, all of which will be evident during the concert.

Hoy said with the music program he’s in, Connor takes part in a lot competitions and not as many public performances.

“I think that’s something that gets lost at this level – remembering the joy and the difference that your music can bring, especially to a smaller community,” she added.  

“And so recognizing that, it became very important that we work (a concert) into his year and make that opportunity for him.” 

The concert program will include works by Chopin, Prokofiev and Gershwin among others. Connor will also perform some of his own award-winning compositions.

For part of the program, Connor will be joined on stage by 13-year-old violinist Salma Khakimov, and 12-year-old cellist Ryan Yin, who both attend school in Toronto with Connor.

Together they form the top-ranked Sacora Trio, for which Connor is the pianist.

“We love seeing children and youth in our community come together like this,” stated Free to Grow program director Megan Harron.

“Our Free to Grow Program helps nurture the physical, social, emotional, and mental well-being of children and youth by providing them funding to participate in activities, like music and the arts, recreation, and life skills activities.

“Seeing young folks like Connor using their skills and passion to raise awareness and funds to help other children and youth inspires us to do what we do.”

She added, “Together, alongside kids like Connor, we are empowering young people to thrive.”

Tickets for the concert are $15 to $25, and available through or They are also available at the door.