Jane Hayes, senior piano adjudicator, meets with students at the opening session of the Shuswap Music Festival. Hayes is an active recording artist and her concerts have taken her across Canada, the USA, Europe and Mexico. The festival runs from April 16 to the concluding Gala Concert on Friday, April 27, 7 p.m. at Nexus, First United Church. (Photo contributed)

Pursuing musical excellence

Annual Shuswap Music Festival on now through April 27, public welcome

Salmon Arm, a community invested in the arts, resonates with music during the Annual Shuswap Music Festival.

Amateur musicians and choral artists of all ages perform and share their talent with the community during the two-week competition held April 16 to 27. Solo artists in piano, strings and voice, and members of choirs and bands have the unique opportunity to learn from each other but, more importantly, the opportunity to receive personal instruction and encouragement from professional musicians who adjudicate each performance.

These professional musicians, acclaimed nationally and internationally, provide mini-master classes that enrich each student’s understanding of music and help to improve performance skills. The adjudicators for the 18th Annual Shuswap Music Festival are: Karl Schwonik, band; Jane Hayes, sr. piano; Joe Berarducci, jr. piano; Andrea Case, strings; and Alexandra Babbel, vocal and choirs. Biographies of their careers are available on the festival website, www.ShuswapFestival.com.

The festival is also a competition. Top candidates, as determined by the adjudicators, are recommended to advance to provincial and national competitions. Awards and scholarships in each category for each genre, from classical to jazz, and at each music grade level, are presented at the festival’s Gala Concert. The BC Registered Music Teachers’ Association/Shuswap Branch provides awards for piano and strings to encourage young musicians.

This is the first year for presentation of the Klein Family Award. Established by Gabi Klein in honour of her family’s love of music, the $1,000 award supports promising senior-level students pursuing advanced studies in piano or strings.

The Blair Borden Memorial Award, presented annually at the festival, is from the Shuswap District Arts Council Endowment Fund. Borden donated to the fund with wishes that an award be given to senior-level students pursuing further education in music. Borden was herself a “life-long learner of music.”

The Mary Fowler Memorial Scholarship is awarded for ‘excellence in classical voice.’ Fowler sang with the Shuswap Singers for more than 30 years and choral music was her first love. After her death, her family established a family endowment fund with the Shuswap Community Foundation. The fund supports a scholarship for a student, preferably between the ages of 14 and 19, competing at the Grade 7 Royal Conservatory of Music level or higher. A secondary option is to award a younger, less-advanced performer in classical voice and/or musical theatre.

It is with a mixture of sadness and appreciation that the board of the Shuswap Music Festival Society and Lorne Lazzarotto will present the “Georgina Lazzarotto Memorial Award.” Georgina Lazzarotto, who had been a member of the board, died unexpectedly this March. In addition to her career as a nurse, she was a vocal artist and teacher, a choir director and a strong proponent of music festivals. The award will go to a promising intermediate vocal student.

Over the 18 years the festival has been held, many young musicians have participated annually and have successfully developed their musical careers. Among them is Stephanie Nakagowa, who has her Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice and Opera from UBC. A soprano, she has performed in opera houses in Europe and the U.S., and occasionally treats her hometown audience with a concert. A festival participant in more recent years, pianist Jaeden Izik-Dzurko has entered his first year of study at the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York City. The community watches his career with excited anticipation.

A young musician, Aria Izik-Dzurko, captures in her own words the purpose of music festivals. Winner of two senior piano scholarships at the 2016 festival, she wrote: “I have come to appreciate music festivals for a number of reasons. First, they provide me with a meaningful goal that motivates me to work harder than I otherwise would. Second, they give me the opportunity to learn from high-level musicians from outside our area and grow from the unique perspective they bring to my playing. Last, it is always inspiring to see what other musicians and myself are able to accomplish when we truly apply ourselves! Thank you for encouraging me to keep pursuing music… I hope to contribute to the vibrant cultural life in our area as I continue on my musical journey.”

It’s the generosity of the community that sustains the festival and enriches the culture of music in the Shuswap. Key sponsors include the three Rotary Clubs of Salmon Arm, the Shuswap Community Foundation and the Salmar Community Association.

The board of the Shuswap Music Festival Society appreciates all those who contribute to the success of the event.

You’re invited to come to the adjudicated sessions in piano, strings, voice, band and choir from April 16 to 24 at various venues. Popular evening sessions include piano ensembles at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18 and choirs at 6 p.m Tuesday, April 24, at Nexus.

Admission to the Gala Concert and award presentations at 7 p.m. Friday, April 27 at Nexus, First United Church is $10 per person or $20 per family. Visit online at www.ShuswapFestival.com.

– Susan Wolff, board of directors, Shuswap Music Festival Society.

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