Sunday 31 May 2015

Pat Ernst Is Burning Up the Bow

The stories about grads on this blog often relate to flashy accomplishments like prizes, awards, tours, grants, and the like. Our grads do some really amazing, high-profile things, but just as important for me are the daily successes that alumni have in playing gigs and making a living through their art day to day. When he showed up at one of my gigs recently and recounted some of the things he was doing, I was amazed at the number and diversity of his musical activities. Pat is one of the most versatile violinists in the city and performs in many styles including celtic, jazz, flamenco, rock, mariachi, and just about anything else he may be asked to do.

Pat told me that the musical training he received at Cap has been critical in his success as a player. In particular, he cited the benefits of lessons with Bill Coon, learning to play tunes in twelve keys, and the challenge of large ensemble classes.

Pat has regular gigs in Whistler and Las Vegas with the Irish music band, The Whiskeydicks and performs with the Pat Ernst Trio, Los Mariachis Dorados, and Pearl Jig at venues such as the Tangent Cafe, Libra Room, and Kino Cafe. He also teaches violin lessons at Capilano's Community Music School. Finding success as a performing musician is a really significant accomplishment these days. I am really proud to see Pat out there playing so much and having a lot of fun doing it.

Here is a quick look at just some of the musical activities Pat has on the go. Why not go out an hear him play soon?

May 29th - Mariachi Festival Canada, District Theatre in Port Alberni
May 30th - Mariachi festival Canada Finale, Vogue Theatre in Vancouver
May 30-31 - Art in The Garden with The Pat Ernst Trio 4188 range crescent North Vancouver
June 1 - Capilano U Convocation ceremonies with The Pat Ernst Trio
June 3 - Kino Cafe with Toque Flamenco
June 4 - Ceili's Irish Pub with the Whiskeydicks, Richmond
June 5 - Whistler Brewing Co with The Whiskeydicks.
June 6 - Community Day in Ambleside with The Whiskeydicks at Ambleside Park 
June 10 - Kino Cafe with Toque Flamenco
June 12- Art in the Park in Lepage Park with The Whiskeydicks in Whitehorse YT.
June 12 - The Jarvis Saloon with The Whiskeydicks in Whitehorse YT
June 13 - 10th annual Sunstroke Music Fest in Whitehorse YT

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Wylie Ferguson selected for Highscore Festival in Italy

photo by Gillian Weber-Leedham
Wylie Ferguson is a composer from Squamish, BC, currently in the final year of the BMus in Jazz Studies at Capilano University.  He studies composition with Bradshaw Pack. Wylie is also a guitarist and has been involved in many local death metal and grindcore bands, the avant jazz-metal band, Big Evil, and has composed for various jazz and chamber groups. His music has been performed by the Erato Ensemble and has been featured at the Sonic Boom Festival and Vancouver Pro Music Electroacoustic Festival.  Listen to some of Wylie's music here

Wylie has been selected to take part in a composers workshop at the Franco Vittadini Higher Institute of Music Studies in Pavia, Italy from August 3rd-25th.  The workshop is part of the Highscore Festival, which involves private composition study, public performances, and daily lectures and workshops. Wylie is currently writing a string quartet that will be performed during the festival by Quartetto Indaco. The guest of honor at the Highscore Festival this year is Helmut Lachenmann and the faculty includes Amy Beth Kirsten, Mario Garuti, Christopher Theofanidis, Dmitri Tymoczko, and Marina Giovannini. One of the venues for the concerts is the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, a late medieval church which is the burial place of St. Augustine and Boethius, among others.

We are really happy for Wylie and wish him all the best in this adventure. Buona fortuna!

Friday 22 May 2015

Huge Cap Jazz Presence at 2015 Vancouver Jazz Festival

The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is one of the largest and most important events of its kind on the planet.  I really look forward to hearing music and performing each year. In addition to bringing in top jazz artists from around the globe, the festival always does a great job of showcasing musicians and bands from the Vancouver scene and Cap graduates and faculty are always a central part of that scene.  I spent some time this morning highlighting cap students, alumni, and faculty members in my festival program.

Some rough and ready stats:

58 events at the Festival will features Cap alumni, students or faculty.
38 Cap alums or current students will perform
15 faculty members will perform

Here is a list  (apologies if I missed anyone - the program listing don't always have all personnel for bands.)

Cap Alumni (38)
Arai, Bernie
Arntzen, Evan
Bentley, Jon
Blake, David
Conlinn, Juhli
Cox, Ian
Cronin, Sean
Davidovici, Eli
Dhillon, Neelamjit
Gaucher, Dan
Grdina, Gordon
Gubbels, Brent
Hodge, Jennifer
Luykx, Sandra Mae
Maskell, Colin
Meger, James
Minckler, Wynston
Minemoto, Sharon
Naso, Kristian
Northgraves, Bonnie
Pemberton, Dawn
Rushka, Paul
Saunier, Elea
Schmidt, Cole
Scott, Shannon
Sholberg, Russell
Sikula, David
Skonberg, Bria
Taylor, Dave
Thomas, Adam
Thue, Shannon
Toren, Cat
Tucker, Scott
Wagler, Michael
Weeds, Cory
Youngash, Gavin
Younger, Jeff

Faculty (15)
Allen, Mike
Burrows, Jared
Esson, Dennis
Hammet-Vaughn, Kate
Kaldestad, Steve
Korsrud, John
Lachance, Andre
Maddock, Steve
Makela, Chad
Mollerup, Laurence
Radtke, Darren
Robbins, Dave
Samworth, Ron
Turner, Brad

Vanderschyff, Dylan

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Cap alumni, students and faculty feature prominently in Hard Rubber Orchestra 25th anniversary show

HRO photo by Diane Smithers
This year marks the 25th anniversay of the founding of the Hard Rubber Orchestra by composer and trumpeter, John Korsrud.  We are fortunate to have John as a faculty member teaching composition in the Jazz Studies program. The HRO is one of Canada's most important jazz orchestras (website here), once very aptly described as 'the Godzilla of the Vancouver jazz scene', with an impressive history of commissioning new works from Canadian and international composers and an omnivorous appetite for digesting other forms of contemporary music and blending them with the jazz tradition.  The band's most recent CD, Crush, is a showcase for both Korsrud's considerable compositional prowess and musical leadership as well as the capacity for the band of first-call Vancouver players to perform incredibly dense, intense, challenging, creative, thrilling, and energetic music.

Dave Robbins hitting hard.  Photo by Diane Smithers.
Cap Jazz faculty members have always featured prominently in the band: Ron Samworth (guitar), Dennis Esson (trombone), Dave Robbins (drums), Andre Lachance (bass), Chad Makela (saxes), Brad Turner (trumpet), Steve Kaldestad (saxes), and others have performed regularly with HRO in recent years.

HRO's most recent concert was May 9, 2015 at the Milton Wong Theatre at SFU Woodwards.  The concert featured trumpet soloist, Ingrid Jensen, music by her sister, Christine, along with new works from Korsrud, Peggy Lee, and recent Cap Jazz grad, Eric Wettstein.  Alex Varty's Georgia Straight review of the show had this to say:

Capping the first set was the introduction of the local jazz scene’s next star: singer-guitarist Eric Wettstein, whose “Mechanical Dreams” was both a thoughtful meditation on self-censorship and a jagged showcase for its composer’s extroverted guitar.  As a vocalist, the 26-year-old Wettstein is still finding his feet; here, at least, it was easy to distinguish the suture lines where his jazz and rock leanings meet. But this was such a confident performance that improvement is assured; watch out for this guy!

John introducing Eric.  Diane Smithers photo
Not mentioned in the review is the incredible compositional skill that Eric brought to the piece and the roaring energy he helped create in band.  Eric has been in funded mentorship program with John Korsrud and the HRO for the past year and the fruits of this work were very impressive.  I was thrilled with all aspects of the performance and extremely proud of Eric.  He is combining all the things we teach at Cap in compostion, improvisation, theory, and an understanding of the jazz tradition with all the things that are unique to his experience and that can't be taught - youthful rock and roll energy, fearless creativity, eclectic tastes and sensibilities, and a vision for where jazz might go in the next 25 years.

In addition to Eric's participation, another Cap Jazz student, Luis Melgar (trombone) has also been called on to join the ranks of Vancouver's top professionals and has played on several recent Hard Rubber concerts. His presence in the band's trombone section wasn't heralded by much fanfare, but it was significant for me and for all of us associated with Cap Jazz to see Luis in the center of the trombone section, calmly nailing some of the most challenging jazz orchestra parts on the planet.  They are both great examples of what we are trying to achieve in the Capilano Jazz Studies department and of what can be accomplished with hard work and passion. Way to go guys!